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Updated 9:30 AM April 2, 2007
 

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Spotlight: Active U leader promotes positive change

Few people are able to exercise while they work. As the Michigan Healthy Community (MHC) Wellness Coordinator, Colleen Greene not only makes sure other employees reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle; she gives her own heart rate a boost at the same time.
(Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services)

"I love getting to work with people and seeing them make positive, healthy changes in their lives," she says.

Greene runs physical activity programs such as Active U, which wraps up its second season April 3, and Get in the Game; coordinates special fitness events like the upcoming Almost 5K Walk/Run; works as a personal trainer and leads relaxation and exercise classes (step aerobics is her favorite) that are open to all U-M Health System and University employees and to the general public. Almost every aspect of her job serves to improve employee wellbeing at the University.

"MFit offers personal training both at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube Fitness center and in the rec sports buildings on campus, and we offer exercise classes at several different sites around campus," Greene says. "Most people have some time to be active, it just takes a little bit of prioritizing. I understand the need for me to be to be healthy and active so I can take care of the people and responsibilities I want and need to."

Prior to working with MHC and the Employee Wellness Program, Greene was a men's basketball coach at U-M-Dearborn. The energetic alumna, who studied communications and education as an undergraduate, has a passion for working in fitness and incorporates it into all aspects of her life.

"I don't know where it comes from; I just know I love it," she says. "It's probably because I was into sports and fitness growing up. My parents said the only time I ever sat still was when I was actually watching sports on TV!"

Greene also understands that being healthy and active is necessary for the work she does. She usually doesn't get a full workout from teaching exercise classes alone, so she spends a lot of her time after work at the Ice Cube fitness center or at any of the recreational sports facilities on campus.

Greene frequently gets stopped and thanked for helping someone exercise more or lose weight. She stresses, however, that she is not responsible for anyone's decision to get fit. "I always tell them, 'No, you got you to exercise more or lose 20 pounds, we just helped you do it in a safe and hopefully fun way.'"

One of MHC's most popular programs is Active U. Greene is impressed by the participation level in this year's program, with more than 7,500 from all three U-M campuses enrolled, and the willingness of nearly all participants to donate to charity. She has received numerous e-mails from employees that have commended it as life changing. A staff member in UMHS radiology wrote Greene to say the program helped her see herself in a completely different way, and that she wakes up every day wanting to go to the gym because of Active U. Though many universities have employee wellness programs, Greene says Active U is unique to Michigan.

Overall, Greene cites MHC as a work in progress to change "the whole culture of the workplace, not just by incorporating physical activity, but through the Good Choice food program, the Enhanced Ergonomic Awareness program, and daily health tips." More information about all of Michigan Healthy Community's efforts can be found on its Web site at www.mhealthy.umich.edu.

"Remember, you can't help take care of others or your responsibilities if you aren't healthy, so make sure and take some time to get yourself healthy," Greene says.

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