The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


USM offers free health, wellness program


As a part of the “Health is Golden” campaign to cultivate a culture of health and fitness at The University of Southern Mississippi, the Healthy 100 program is in effect for students, faculty and staff to participate in.

The $250,000 grant from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation continues to provide for the campaign meant to encourage and support a culture of wellness on campus and around the Hattiesburg community.

Healthy 100 is a six-week health and fitness program designed for individuals with health- associated risk factors. Interested participants must have one of the five following risk factors: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high BMI, a sedentary lifestyle or a family history of cardiovascular disease. The program gives up to 100 individuals the opportunity to improve their health.

The program includes eight group-training sessions with a personal trainer, free nutritional education from a dietitian and a free two-month membership to the Payne Center.

Graduate Assistant of Fitness Samantha Di Maggio encourages the Southern Miss community to get involved with the program.

“I would encourage people at USM to join Healthy 100 because it offers accountability and assistance in getting fit to better your health,” she said. “How much you put in the program is exactly what you will get out of the program. The biggest benefit we hope for people to get is to improve through health and the risk factors they have for cardiovascular disease to reduce their risk.”

The Southern Miss community is being improved through programs like the Healthy 100, according to Di Maggio.

“Cardiovascular disease and obesity is a huge problem in Mississippi and in the United States,” she said.” It is so important to establish that connection that our fitness and our diet is directly related to our health, and Healthy 100 can make a huge different for this community.”

For those who struggle to find motivation in getting fit and staying fit, Di Maggio ensures the hard part will not last.

“The hardest part about starting a fitness journey is starting,” she said. “This program is a great way for those who have been wanting to get fit, to jump start their fitness journey now. No more excuses.”

Director of Recreational Sports Mark Crager said the program is in place to further the culture of wellness in the community.

“The Healthy 100 part is working with the faculty, staff and students who are at some type of risk – the five different risk factors,” Crager said. “We’re really focusing on people who are not already working out, those with a sendentary lifestyle and high risks of health problems.

Health is Golden’s overarching goal is to change the culture of Mississippi.

“We have a high obesity rate, so we want anyone who sees what happens at Southern Miss to see Health is Golden,” Crager said.

According to Crager, 2016 is the third year of the grant providing its funds to the university.

“We’ve had a health promotion department on campus for about six years or so and it’s morphed now into the Department of Health Education,” he said.” There definitely have been a lot of risk factors taken down, and in the Healthy 100 Program’s very first year, it was easy to get 100 people. The next year we went down to 78 because we had a lot of people who were in the program the year before that had made a lot of positive change.”

The program has made positive changes in participants’ lives in the past and Crager hopes to see the trend continue.

“We’ve seen a lot of progress towards that, and hopefully this year, it’ll be the same,” he said. “I still feel like there’s a lot of people out there that just don’t know about the program, so we still have a lot more than 100 people that need to be in the program.”

The program will offer new enrollment sessions every two months throughout the year. The first term and group training sessions will begin October 24.

An optional informational session will be held Tuesday at the Payne Center’s Oak Tree Conference Room. Those interested can visit the Payne Center between 3p.m.-6p.m. on October 17, 19 or 21 and sign up at the Healthy 100 registration table.

The program is free and accessible to the entire Southern Miss community.


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