Story Magazine

First Quarter, 2005

More Seminarians Taking the "Initiative" to be Healthy

by Allison Schmitt, Master of Arts student

There's a lot of walking, weightlifting and exercising going on at Luther Seminary these days. You might call it "spring training" for life in the ministry.

But don't expect talent scouts to arrive on campus any time soon. The activity is actually part of the Healthy Leaders Initiative.

Funded by a Wheat Ridge Ministries grant, the initiative is intended to help students see the connection between lifestyle and health and encourage behavior that contributes to their well being.

Parish nurse Karen Treat's hope is that it will help Luther graduates model healthy lifestyles as well as healthy spiritual lives in their congregations.

"We're busy and we have to make sure we're seeing all areas of ourselves," she said, pointing to the "Wholeness Wheel" hanging on her door.

Similar to a pie graph, the multi-colored wheel lists five aspects of wellness--physical, emotional, social/interpersonal, vocational and intellectual--surrounded by a ring signifying spiritual well being. Keeping these areas in balance is the goal.

Treat is pleased with the response. About 130 people have signed up for the initiative. Use of the gym in the basement of Stub Hall, known as God's Gym, is on the rise. "People are moving more," she said. She is glad "just to know that people are feeling encouraged to change their lifestyle even a little bit."

Developing health habits needn't be a huge undertaking. Treat gives these tips for moving in the right direction: Walk around campus when you need a study break. Walk to another building to use the restroom. If exercise bores you, do it in front of the TV or with a friend. Take a lap around the store before shopping.

Similarly, student health and wellness coordinator Meta Herrick encourages people to make health a part of things they're already doing, "not a massive January overhaul," said the Master of Divinity junior. "Living a healthy lifestyle should be fun."

The daughter of a pharmacist and a health/physical education teacher, Herrick had the benefit of growing up in a wellness-oriented family. "We grew up making healthy choices," she said. Being part of the Healthy Leaders Initiative, she said, provides the encouragement people need to form good life-long habits.

One of Herrick's contributions to the program is recipes for healthy breakfasts, salads, snacks and more. You can find a link to the recipes on the Healthy Leaders Initiative web page, at www.luthersem.edu/ offers a daily health tip, an events schedule for the initiative and other health resources such as a link to the ELCA for Wellness Web site.