August 6, 2001
Registrar's office marches toward better health
By Eric Rangus firstname.lastname@example.org
Round and round they go
When the choice is between sitting in
front of a computer in an ergonomic chair that feels more like an iron
maiden with each passing hour or venturing outside for a breath of (relatively)
fresh air and a brisk walk, the choice is simple.
When the sun is out, the afternoon view of the Quad from, say, the balcony
of the Carlos Museum will include employees of the registrars office
orbiting the grassy center of campuswalking, talking, laughing,
getting healthier by the step.
Its all part of an effort spearheaded by University Registrar C.
R. Nicolaysen, who is encouraging his people to improve their health by
exercising during the day and, as a consequence, better their work experiences.
Everybody wins, he said.
But Nicolaysen, a driven and focused manager who has been at Emory 27
years, admitted that he probably would not have paid much attention to
any kind of work/health program if the subject hadnt hit so close
to home a couple years ago.
In 1999, during a regular checkup, Nicolaysens doctor found an
anomaly near his heart. That led to quadruple-bypass surgery, which was
performed at Emory Hospital by Lawrence Spurling, director of preventive
cardiology at Emory Clinic.
Following the surgery, Nicolaysen was invited to join the Clinics
HeartWise Risk Reduction Program. The program incorporates exercise physiologists
and personal trainers who tailor a baseline exercise program for interested
After some initial skepticism, Nicolaysen signed up. [I thought]
it would be some rinky-dink type of exercise, well all stand
around and wave our arms-type of thing, he said, What
I was thinking turned out to be totally false. I hate to admit that.
The program includes not only exercise (even yoga), but information on
healthy living, stress reduction, proper eating habits and anger management.
Nicolaysen was so impressed with the program that he looked for ways to
apply its principles to his office.
So Nicolaysen asked his exercise physiologist, Christy Brock, what he
could do start a health program within the registrars office. His
goal was pretty simple: They should move. And not just back and forth
to the coffeemakerreal movement.
So late last year, Heart Center representatives visited the registrars
office and discussed topics such as good eating and fitness, then led
office employees onto the Quad for some light stretching and walking.
The sessions continued over the next few months, and soon afternoon exercise
became a staple of the offices daily routine.
They walk for a half-hour in two groups, one at 11:15 a.m. and the other
at 12:15 p.m., to ensure the office is always staffed. When weather allows,
the walkers circle the quarter-mile Quad perimeter three or four times.
When its raining or if theres oppressive heat, they trudge
up and down the stairs of the B. Jones Center. They stretch, do neck rolls,
sometimes even step aerobics on the curbs.
During the day and over breaks, discussion topics in the office range
from eating healthy to stress relief. The presence of guest speakers has
continued, too. In June, the subject was exercise and fitness. In July,
it was low-back pain and exercise. This month: Stress.
The amazing thing is we do 20 to 30 minutes a day, several times
a week, and we get results, said Maggie Turlington, one of the offices
walkers. You dont have to break your back or run five miles.
Turlington added that the program has paid off personally. Walking perks
her up, her clothes fit better, and her cholesterol and triglycerides
have dropped significantly.
Its certainly raised our consciousness about how little we can move during a day when we are working at our desks, said fellow walker Alexa Devetter. People walk around the office saying,
Are you walking today? Its a motivator.
Of the registrars 24 employees, about three-quarters walk in the
afternoon. Of those who dont participate, several have their own
exercise regimen (one person is a long-distance runner, for instance).
This is something the person in the worst condition can participate
in and doesnt get made fun of, Nicolaysen said. They
feel better for it; they have a little more self-esteem. The person whos
in the best shape can participate and doesnt lose a thing.
While the program was his idea, Nicolaysen rarely participates. As the
boss, he doesnt want to infringe on his employees time outside
the office, he said. Besides, he works out for two hours each morning
at the Blomeyer Center.
I feel 20 years younger, said the 63-year-old Nicolaysen,
who is fully recovered from his surgery. He never thought he was a candidate
for heart problems. A track athlete in college, he ran three to five miles
a day even up until his surgery.
Word is getting around. One of Nicolaysens colleagues from the
provosts office asked about the walkers. He said that the HeartWise
people can provide all kinds of information, but the desire to get healthy
has to come from within.
Its going to happen by itself, Nicolaysen said.
If it were up to me, he continued, Id say On
the Quad, and wed shut down [the University] for an hour at
noon and let people do this, because I think this is important.