Milliken Keeps a Campus Fit
If consumer spending is any measure of public sentiment about fitness, consider this: the National Sporting Goods Association reports that Americans spent about $5.2 billion on home exercise equipment in 2006. And yet the Center for Disease Control reports nearly 33 percent of U.S. adults are now obese—more than double the rate from the CDC’s 1976-80 survey.
Fitness and wellness might be at the fore of society’s thinking (and perhaps spending), but “people are busy, and taking care of themselves tends to go on the back burner,” said Mike Milliken, who graduated from UMF with a degree in community health education and now works as wellness coordinator at Bates College. “There’s nothing wrong with taking 30 minutes out of a busy day to exercise. We’re a more health-conscious society, and that has to extend to the workplace. People have to schedule their own wellness.”
To help schedule that wellness, Milliken opens the fitness center at 6 a.m. to provide personal exercise instruction for employees. From his office, he coordinates lunch-and-learn events on topics ranging from diabetes to osteoporosis, educates individuals on keeping daily nutrition logs, and updates the Web with campus walking maps and wellness wisdom. Later, he teaches a physical education course on conditioning for strength, cardiovascular capacity, flexibility and muscle endurance.
“I get to work with the whole spectrum of cultures on campus, from professors to students to custodians,” he said. “I love the diversity of each encounter.”
Knowing that some would prefer a more virtual encounter with wellness education, he developed instructional video podcasts to demonstrate simple body-weight exercises that can be done at home or in the residence halls.
“Some people approach wellness education by thinking, ‘I don’t need someone else telling me I’m overweight’ or ‘I already know how to take care of myself,’” said Milliken, an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer who guides the change process with a Motivational Interviewing-based counseling strategy. “Rather than simply telling people what’s good for them, the idea is to find out what they’re looking for, what their goals are. Providing information only when people ask for it and responding to their interests keeps them in the driver’s seat. That way, I don’t set them up for failure or an uncomfortable situation.”