Student Life

Liberty University: A champion of health in the community

By Drew Menard, September 20, 2013

Liberty University is establishing itself as a health and wellness leader in the community as it works with local institutions to encourage healthy living.

For the second year in a row, Liberty is encouraging students, faculty, and staff to take an active role in Live Healthy Lynchburg, a campaign sponsored by the city committed to promoting overall wellness.

On June 14, Liberty hosted a Live Healthy Lynchburg meeting on campus, welcoming other colleges around the area to share ideas and compare programs and resources. Visitors sampled a variety of healthy dining options offered at Reber-Thomas Dining Hall.

“What this partnership between Liberty, Lynchburg, and other local institutions hopes to achieve is a more health-conscious culture in the community — similar to what we are seeing take place at Liberty,” said Lee Beaumont, Liberty’s vice president for Auxiliary Services. “We hope this will lead to a better quality of life in the community as people become better educated and motivated to live healthier lives.”

Many members of Liberty’s administration have led the way, including President Jerry Falwell, Jr., who has lost 65 pounds over the last year and a half thanks to a complete lifestyle change that includes healthier food and regular exercise. He and his wife, Becki, work out together two hours a week.

Liberty employees have excelled in the campaign’s health challenges this year, including the Strive for Five Challenge that encouraged people to work out for at least 30 minutes five days a week from April to June. Liberty logged more hours than any other organization in its category, with more than 2,200 hours tallied.

More than 250 staff members have already logged up to 16,000 miles in the Lynchburg 100 Mile Challenge, which ends Sept. 27. Last year, Liberty faculty and staff logged more miles than all but two local organizations, and Mark Hopely, an admissions evaluator with Liberty University Online, tallied more miles than any other individual in the challenge.

Again this year, Liberty also encouraged its faculty and staff to participate in the Genworth Virginia 10 Miler and 4 Miler races on Sept. 28 and paid the entry fee for all who signed up. More than 200 Liberty employees will participate in the races. Last year, Liberty was dominant in the corporate challenge portion, finishing first in four of the six categories in both races.

In terms of promoting physical health and wellness, Liberty stands out in the region. Several healthy dining options are available at Reber-Thomas Dining Hall and other campus dining locations. In fact, Liberty’s dining program has received several high rankings and awards in the past year. Sodexo, Liberty’s dining services provider, encourages healthy choices by providing special stations at the dining hall, cooking classes, and Fit Flames workshops. It has also partnered with the MyFitnessPal mobile app to manage diet and exercise and offers individual consultations with an on-site registered dietitian.

Students, faculty, and staff have a plethora of options to help them stay active, including the LaHaye Student Union, which features a pool, basketball courts, expansive weight room and cardio area, rock climbing wall, and several rooms for group fitness classes. This fall, Liberty expanded the hours for its early bird gym membership, which allows faculty to use the facility at no charge. Other free opportunities include daily walking groups, a weight management program, a wellness series focusing on a variety of topics, and a health fair on Sept. 23.

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