Fit in Four program promotes healthy living at the UI

The new program from Student Health and Wellness focuses on exercise and nutrition.


Katie Goodale

Photo Illustration

Caleb McCullough, News Reporter

Student Health & Wellness offers a brand-new fitness program in October for students and faculty.

The program, called Fit in Four, focuses on exercise and fruit and vegetable intake to promote healthy living.

JoAnn Daehler-Miller, a Student Health dietician, directs the program. She has led several similar programs in the past, but this is the first time this specific program has been offered, she said.

Fit in Four is a four-week program focused on increasing physical activity in addition to fruit and vegetable intake. The program is designed to slowly build from week to week, Daehler-Miller said.

Participants will begin the first week with 20 minutes of physical exercise and two to three servings of fruits and vegetables at least five days during the week.

By the last week, participants are asked to spend 40 minutes exercising and eat four to five servings of vegetables, mixing in at least three colors.

Daehler-Miller stressed the importance of healthy eating habits for freshmen.

“For first-year students, it’s the first time they’re eating on their own,” she said. “This is a good chance to start establishing healthy habits.”

RELATED: DITV: Fit in Four hopes to boost student health

The program began on Monday, but registration is open until Thursday, Daehler-Miller said.

Participants are asked to use tracking sheets to record their exercise and fruit and vegetable intake, and they will be asked to submit reflections at the end of the four weeks. After submitting the reflections, all participants will receive a prize of a salad shaker, a cutting board, earbuds, or a water bottle, Daehler-Miller said.

There is no penalty for not meeting all the requirements of the program, and she said the program is designed to be fun and supportive.

“Just by making an effort, people will eat better and exercise better,” she said.

Erin Litton, a UI senior behavioral health consultant, is in charge of the faculty side of the program. All university faculty are eligible to participate, and they usually get around 1,000 faculty participants, Litton said.

“I think it’s an opportunity for our campus to focus on well-being together,” she said.

RELATED: UI faculty promoting healthier habits to reduce Iowa’s high obesity rate

Litton also highlighted the Healthiest State Walks on Wednesday, a series of walks around Iowa. They are part of the Healthiest State Initiative, a program that aims to make Iowa the healthiest of the 50 states. Litton said there were a number of walks on campus that could merge well with Fit in Four.

“A way to kick off Fit in Four might be to participate in the Healthiest State Walk,” she said.

Sandra Amouzou, a student taking the course, said she appreciates that the program focuses on both physical exercise and nutrition. She has participated in a similar program in the past that was focused on counting steps, which she said wasn’t as effective.

“By the end, I was more focused on increasing the number of steps versus being active,” she said.

She believes it would be beneficial if there were a component of the program devoted to mental health. Student Health operates a number of mental-health events and services, but it would be interesting if it were incorporated into programs such as Fit in Four, she said.

Still, Amouzou expects that the program will be beneficial.

“I’m hoping by the end of it, I can improve my fruit and vegetable intake,” she said.