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Health Fair at LaHaye introduces Live Healthy Liberty initiative

This semester, Liberty University launched Live Healthy Liberty, a collaborative campus-wide initiative to encourage activity and wellness for students, faculty, and staff. The initiative, spearheaded by Campus Recreation and Human Resources, is in response to a wellness study conducted last spring which revealed that 45 percent of Liberty students exercise once a week or less yet 91 percent are interested in wellness or health promotion activities.

“Live Healthy Liberty’s purpose is to create a culture of wellness at our university by bringing together all the resources available to the campus community,” said Jamie Swyers, the LaHaye Student Union’s associate director of fitness. “It is a holistic initiative that seeks to engage all dimensions of wellness — not only physical health, from healthy eating and exercise, but also … spiritual, emotional, and intellectual health.”

Patterned after Live Healthy Lynchburg, which coordinates the Strive for Five and 100 Mile Challenge throughout the community, Live Healthy Liberty incorporates a wide range of programs promoting health among its faculty, staff, and students.

On Wednesday, the LaHaye Student Union hosted the second annual Liberty University Health Fair with 17 health and wellness booths set up in the basketball court area. Nurses representing Centra provided free health screenings while Robin Quay, the registered dietitian for Sodexo, Liberty’s dining service provider, and counselors from Student Care offered information. Staff members from Student Activities, which has added events to its Liberty Mountain Trail Series, and Intramural Sports, were also on hand, as were personal trainers and group exercise instructors from the newly expanded LaHaye Health and Fitness Center.

LaHaye Student Union is still undergoing renovations on 19,000 square feet of space that will serve as the headquarters for Liberty’s expanded offerings of group exercise classes.

“Group exercise has been around for a long time, but we’ve never had a (staff and faculty only) class before, so I’m really excited that we’re implementing that this year,” said Sami Sweeney, a group exercise instructor at LaHaye. “A lot of faculty have asked for it, but this is the first time we’ve been able to put it in.

“We have strength and sculpt classes, cycle, Zumba, a pilates class, Flow, and a HIIT class, which is high intensity interval training,” Sweeney added. “It’s only a half-hour, so it’s a really fast-paced class. It’s all about getting the heart rate up in a really short period of time.”

Quay calculated body mass index and caloric needs for visitors and showed students how to use the MyFitnessPal app. It allows users to scan bar codes from the Reber-Thomas Dining Hall into their smartphones, to download calorie, protein, fat, and carbohydrate content, and maintain an online food diary. Quay, who invites students to consult with her on a one-on-one basis, will be the featured speaker on Sept. 3 as part of a Live Healthy Liberty lecture series at LaHaye.

Liberty University students sign up for Live Healthy Liberty at Wednesday's Health Fair.
Students sign up for programs at the Live Healthy Liberty table set up during Wednesday’s second annual Liberty University Health Fair held in LaHaye Student Union.

Sodexo, which was recognized by various publications over the summer for its healthy, gluten-free Simple Servings station, has expanded its menus in conjunction with Live Healthy Liberty.

“We have lots of healthy options across campus for our students to eat,” Quay said. “At the food court at Reber-Thomas, we pretty much make everything from scratch. Because it’s allergen-free, the Simple Servings station is very clean, very healthy, and very basic. We offer a lot of balance. We do have comfort food, but we want to make sure they have healthy food to eat as well.”

Reber-Thomas introduced a Mongolian Grill, which offers a choice of 10 vegetables, pork or chicken, and sauces — all prepared in front of students — this semester . The biggest addition is the Training Table, a separate wing of the dining hall geared toward the nutritional needs of high-performance athletes, offering top-quality, lean, high-protein options and complex carbohydrates as well as plenty of legumes, fruits, and vegetables.

“There’s healthy food at all of the stations,” Quay said. “The Vegan Grill has a hot entrée every day, along with vegan salads, homemade humus, and chips. There are tons of fruits and vegetables all over the dining hall (and) we try to offer whole grains with every meal. We have a regular crust pizza, flat-bread pizza, and a wheat crust pizza at the StoneFire Pizza station. Sparky’s Cantina has legumes and healthy toppings like guacamole, pico de gallo and salsa.”

For students, faculty, and staff who don’t have time for a sit-down meal, Sodexo provides prepackaged Simple Servings to Go sandwiches and salads that are allergen-free on the first floor of DeMoss Hall, as well as four varieties of Meals To Go — Gluten-free, Paleo, vegan, and under-500-calorie healthy meals. Those options are available at the renovated Tilley Student Center, Doc’s Gourmet To Go, and David’s Place, which also has gluten-free snacks available at Jamba Juice.

For those who have the time to grow their own fruits and vegetables, there is a Campus Garden available for student use three miles from campus on Liberty Mountain.

Liberty’s dining service will also be offering a six-week faith-based dietary class on “The Daniel Plan,” starting Sept. 2 in the Terrace Conference Room of the Jerry Falwell Library. Email LUDiningEvents@gmail.com for more information or to register.

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