January 13, 2003
Online Wellness Profile offers free health assessment
By Louise Donahue
If December is the month for celebrating, January is the month for many
people to take stockand get in shape. The Personal
Wellness Profile, a free online health risk assessment, is a good
Offered as part of the wide-ranging Online
Wellness Center web site, the profile offers individualized feedback
based on answers to a 40-question questionnaire.
"It's an awareness tool," said Ryan Andrews, director of
Center for the Office of Physical Education, Recreation, Sports,
and Wellness (OPERS). "A lot of people don't know where to start."
After answering questions on height, weight, age, and frame size, participants
are asked for additional information, from family medical history to
physical activity, eating habits, and stress. They then are told their
"health age" and given numerical ratings in seven health areas,
including coronary risk, nutrition, and fitness. Suggestions for better
health--such as achieving a healthy weight and improving nutrition--are
Andrews said feedback from participants has been positive. "People
say, 'I've learned something about myself.' " He noted that the
information submitted to the profile is password-protected, and not
accessible to UCSC. The profile, and the rest of the Online Wellness
Center web site, is run by Wellsource, an outside company which also
serves many corporate clients.
In addition to making the profile available to the overall campus community,
Andrews said the Wellness Center selected a small group of students,
faculty, and staff members who applied to be "guinea pigs"
for a more intensive health assessment. Wellness Center staffers will
have an initial meeting with this group to gather health information,
then meet with each member monthly to focus on different health-related
Participants in the pilot program will set both monthly and yearly
goals, and retake the wellness profile after one year. "When the
whole year is over, hopefully we'll see some improvement," Andrews
Participants in the program were chosen because they were considered
good candidates for improving their health, Andrews said. "We chose
those who were ready to change--people on the cusp" of becoming
more fit, he said.
The Wellness Center offers various services, including fitness testing
and personal trainers, for those wishing to improve their health. Information
is available on the OPERS web site.
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