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Make your workdays happier and healthier

Human Performance and Leisure courses get faculty and staff away from their desks for much-needed mind and body breaks.

By Lindsey Coulter

August 29, 2018

Rowdy the Roadrunner doing yogaAny time is a good time to commit to being happier, healthier and more productive. The Human Performance and Leisure program makes it easy, offering nearly 50 sections of courses such as tai chi, ballet, weight training and tennis — and every course is open to Metropolitan State University of Denver faculty and staff.

Headed by Professor Susan Bertelsen, Ph.D., the HPL program wants to help MSU Denver employees make time for movement to increase mental energy and help manage stress in their personal and professional lives.

“Research is encouraging teachers to get their students up for brain breaks and to do active learning exercises within their lectures, so faculty in particular can take some of these lessons back into their own courses,” she said. “For staff, it might be harder to manage time-wise, so one of our goals is to have department chairs allow staff time during the day to enroll in an activity class.”

MSU Denver isn’t unique in offering health and wellness classes, which have also been shown to aid in student retention and performance, but it is unique in that students earn two credit hours. Each class has an academic component that adds an important mental dynamic to the movement.

“All of our official syllabi have academically focused learning objectives, a course outline, and assignments and quizzes just like any other class,” Bertelsen said. “It’s the whole-body experience of working your brain and your body.”

Affiliate faculty member Svetlana Lambrozo, who has taught yoga at MSU Denver for 12 years, says many students appreciate the combination of physical activity and lecture. 

“They enjoyed learning the reasons why we do the yoga postures, breathing and relaxation,” she said. “We benefit more when we know the reasons and benefits for what we are doing. The academic classes … allow me to teach yoga as a science that offers the whole package for body, mind, brain and emotions.”

Lambrozo says classes such as yoga can be a game-changer for more sedentary faculty and staff.

“Some of my students have full-time desk jobs; they complain about back, neck, shoulder issues, fatigue, lack of vitality and more,” she said. “They were surprised that we did more than break sweat. They learned how to stretch the body on a yoga mat or at a desk, as well as how to clear the mind.”

Lambrozo is just one of many MSU Denver affiliate faculty members in the HPL program, and Bertelsen sees value in bringing their unique perspectives and experiences to the campus.

“We have great trust in (our affiliate faculty), and they love our students,” she said. “They all come with such great backgrounds, not just in their expertise area but their walks of life. I think that is what our students like about them.”

Visit the HPL website to learn more and to view available courses.

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