Although regular physical activity is essential to short- and long-term health, most Harvard students and staff, like most Americans, do not get enough physical activity. In the Harvard University Health Services Health Assessment 2012, 26% of students reported that they do not exercise. Of this 26%, we saw higher self reported levels of depression/anxiety with an increase of instances that had a negative impact on academics and overall wellbeing measures.
F.L.E.X. (Fitness, Longevity, Energy, Xcitement) is committed to advancing the development of lifelong health and wellness habits and behaviors in the members of the Harvard community by encouraging and helping as many students and other Harvard community members as possible meet the American College of Sports Medicine’s recommendation for physical activity in whatever way they enjoy and feel comfortable doing. To reach this goal, F.L.E.X. is designed as a flexible program centered around increasing student movement in a variety of ways.
In the 2013-2014 academic year, we will be piloting F.L.E.X. in one undergraduate house. Programming will include 30-minute workshops and fitness classes along with one-on-one orientation to training equipment. Participating students will receive an accelerometer to track their activity level throughout the duration of the program. This device will allow us to keep track of students' number of steps, distance traveled, and overall activity level. This will enable us to award points to students based on their level of activity, which can then be redeemed for prizes and incentives.
F.L.E.X. is a collaboration between Harvard University Health Services, the Harvard University Center for Wellness, and Harvard University Athletics.