A First Step Toward Success: Start Your Walking Program Now!

picture of pedestrian signEven if you’ve been a couch potato for a long time, starting a physical activity program really doesn’t have to be hard. And of course, there’s the benefit of helping reduce the risk for heart disease, the No. 1 killer of all Americans.  Some activities such as jogging, skiing, aerobic dancing, swimming, and cycling are great for your heart, but it may feel overwhelming to get started. Walking, however, is an easy, virtually free form of exercise you can fit into your daily schedule without too much effort.

The Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week. And while that may sound daunting as well, you can start slowly and gradually increase your activity until you’re doing about 30 minutes of activity most days of the week.

To get started, why don’t you join us on April 2 for National Start Walking Day? In recognition of this event, Wellpower will host a 1.5 – 2 mile walk at noon starting on the steps of Dallas Hall.

Wellpower Walk Information

Take the first step toward success
If you’ve been sedentary for a long time, are overweight, have a high risk of heart disease or another chronic health problem, talk to your doctor before you start a walking program.

To get started:

  • Try to walk at the same time of day so it becomes part of your lifestyle. You might walk every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from noon to 12:30 p.m.
  • Find a convenient time and place. Try to make walking a habit, but be flexible. If you miss an t give up. Work activity into your day another way.
  • Find a companion. You’re more likely to stick with it if you have a buddy.
  • Wear comfortable, properly fitting sneakers or flat shoes with laces and comfortable,
    loose-fitting clothing.
  • Look for chances to be more active during the day. Walk the mall before shopping, take
    15 minute breaks while watching TV or sitting for walking or some other activity.
  • Keep yourself accountable but cut yourself some slack if you stop for a while. Get started again gradually and work up to your old pace.
  • Already a walker and you want to pick up the pace? Tack another mile onto your regular route, try a more challenging path or add an extra day of the week.
  • Let technology help you. Get a pedometer and wear it daily. There are many new devices on the market that work with your smartphone or computer, in addition to standard pedometers. Simply being aware of your daily steps will help you set realistic goals.
  • Track and celebrate your successes.

Create a personal challenge:

If you participate in Wellpower, you may want to create a personal challenge around walking! You may complete two personal challenges in the spring reward period.

Personal Challenge Information


Visit StartWalkingNow.org to find American Heart Association-designated walking paths, personalized walking plans, an online community of walkers and more. Record the distance or length of time of your activity and how you feel after each session. Reward yourself at special milestones. Nothing motivates like success!

Healthy U HR

Walking program developed by American Council on Exercise® in collaboration with the AHA.

Questions? Email wellpower@smu.edu

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SMU 403(b) Retirement Plan: “10-Minute Tips” Presentation

Joe_ValiquetteInterested in learning more about the Southern Methodist University retirement plan?

Let Transamerica provide helpful retirement planning with their 10-Minute Tips presentation! Consider their 10-Minute Tips presentations for your staff meetings and make the 10-Minute investment in your staff’s retirement future!

SMU’s Transamerica Retirement Planning Consultant is available to offer brief informational presentations to help your employees understand the retirement plan and other retirement (savings/investing) topics.

Contact Joe Valiquette at 214-768-7504 or joe.valiquette@transamerica.com for attendance at your next staff meeting! And click here for more information!

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Dougherty’s Pharmacy is Back in the SMU Pharmacy Network!

pharmacyFollowing aggressive negotiations with Express Scripts, Dougherty’s Pharmacy has rejoined the SMU pharmacy network.  This was particularly important for SMU because Dougherty’s Pharmacy is one of a small number of pharmacies that can prepare and dispense compounded prescription medications.

Express Scripts is currently in negotiations with McMahan Pharmacy, another compounding pharmacy that left the SMU pharmacy network effective January 1, 2014.  We will send an update as soon as possible.

Express Scripts Customer Service:  866-662-0294

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Join Wellpower in Celebrating National Start Walking Day – April 2, 2014

Start Walking BannerSMU Wellpower is committed to helping you develop healthy habits and one of the easiest habits to build into your schedule is walking!

According to the Heart Association, research has shown that the benefits of walking and getting moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day may include:

  • Lowered risk of coronary heart disease
  • Improved blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Improved blood lipid profile
  • More stable body weight and a lower risk of obesity
  • Enhanced mental well being
  • Reduced risk of osteoporosis
  • Reduced risk of breast and colon cancer
  • Reduced risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes

So let’s get started! Bring your favorite sneakers and join us for a lively 1.5-2 mile walk around our beautiful campus. Invite your colleagues to come along and meet us on the steps of Dallas Hall at noon. Enjoy great conversation, our beautiful campus, and the opportunity to do something good for your overall wellness. If the weather is uncooperative, we will email everyone by 10 am to cancel and reschedule.

Participants should log this activity in the April “bonus points” section of Wellpower’s tracker.

Sign Up Now!

Look for a blog post each of the next 4 weeks with information about how to start walking more, how walking can help lower stress and more! Sign up for HR’s RSS feed to get our blog posts delivered to your inbox.

Want more information about walking? Check out the Heart Association’s website. It’s packed full of great information and tips on starting a walking program.

Heart Association – Why Start Walking?Healthy U HR

Questions? Email us at wellpower@smu.edu


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BCBSTX Deductible Discount Update for 2014

This past year, benefit-eligible employees had the opportunity to earn a 20% discount on the deductible for eligible SMU medical plans (the $2,500 and $5,000 high deductible plans are not eligible) offered through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX). If you completed an onsite screening or submitted a screening completed by your physician, you were eligible for this program in 2014.

Employees who earned the discount will be notified about their discount payment the week of February 3, 2014. If you don’t receive confirmation by Friday February 7, but think you should have qualified, contact us at wellpower@smu.edu.

May I still earn the discount for 2014? Unfortunately, the deadline for earning the discount for 2014 has passed.

How do I know the discount has been applied? That’s the tricky part! The discount really isn’t a “discount” in the traditional sense of the word. Earlier in January, SMU made a payment toward your deductible of either $200 or $400, depending on your plan. So your deductible actually stays the same, but you will have already satisfied 20% of it.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t trigger an “Explanation of Benefits” or EOB, so you don’t ever see it. The only way you can verify the payment directly is to call the BCBSTX customer support line at 1-877-768-2005 and ask how much of your deductible has been met. Ask the customer service representative to look for a payment of $200 (for the $1,000 deductible plan) or $400 (for the $2,000 deductible plan). The representative won’t know anything about the deductible discount program, so refer any additional questions to Wellpower. Also, remember that the discount cannot be applied to our high deductible ($2,500 and $5,000) plans. 

What if I had a procedure done, before the payment is applied? If applicable, BCBSTX will refund any excess payment toward your deductible. Contact us at benefitsu@smu.edu if you need help with that issue.

Will the Deductible Discount Program be offered for 2015?
The program will be discontinued after 2014. One of the reasons is that many of our employees now participate in high deductible plans, which are ineligible for the discount due to IRS regulations. For those who do receive the discount payment, many will not reach their deductible by the end of the year which means the discount will not actually help them.

In addition, SMU has been seeking other methods of encouraging staff and faculty to not only get an annual screening, but to take meaningful action if their screening numbers were outside of the healthy range. As a result, SMU HR is piloting the Healthy Outcomes program in 2014 to determine whether participants in it successfully improve their screening numbers if needed, or maintain their already good health. The Healthy Outcomes program offers a $300 cash incentive to those participants who successfully complete the program.

This fall, after the Healthy Outcomes program has been evaluated, employees will receive information about what program(s) will be offered in 2015.

Email wellpower@smu.edu with any questions.


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Living with arthritis and related conditions…

Walk DogAre you or a loved one living with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, gout or fibromyalgia? Visit the Arthritis Foundation for the latest news on medications and research, valuable information about pain relief, exercise routines, and much more.

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Wellpower: What’s Next?

AmazingchallengePosterheadersmallWellpower’s Fall Reward Period Ends January 31

Wellpower will wrap up it’s Fall Reward Period at the end of the month. Current participants should make sure they have all their January activities logged by January 25, 2014. The Wellpower Team will begin tallying up badges and sending out award emails in February.

Wellpower Begins Spring Reward Period February 1

Take the Amazing Challenge this spring and enjoy improving your overall health as we traverse the nation on our wellness journey! Each month we will visit an exciting new location and participants will be asked to try different activities to support their health in the areas of fitness, nutrition, and stress reduction. Join us for wellness seminars, live or online, throughout the spring to learn more about these 3 areas as well.

The Spring Reward Period will run for 5 months – from February through June, 2014. To be eligible to receive an award, participants must complete a biometric screening and then earn 2 or 3 additional badges to be awarded the Silver or Gold level. Participants who completed a screening in the fall of 2013 meet the screening requirement for the Spring Reward Period. To learn more, use the appropriate links below:

Note: Current participants who registered in the fall of 2013 do not need to register for the Spring Reward Period. Only new participants will need to complete the registration process.

Choice_Apple_doughnutWeigh-In/Weigh-Out Challenge

Participants interested in maintaining their weight or working toward a healthy weight may choose to take the Weigh-In/Weigh-Out Challenge. Participants must Weigh-In at the beginning of the reward period and then Weigh-Out near the end of the reward period. Those who successfully maintain their weight (within a +/- 2 pound range) or who make progress toward a healthy weight will earn a badge for this challenge. Click the link below for information about the challenge along with Weigh-In opportunities on campus.

Weigh-In/Weigh-Out Challenge Details


Wellpower Orientation

Wellpower will offer an orientation webinar on Monday, January 27 from 12-1pm.  Click the link below to sign up or to watch our pre-recorded orientation videos.

Wellpower Orientation

facebook-like-iconsmallFollow us on Facebook!

Questions? Email us at wellpower@smu.edu


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SMU’s Tuition Benefit Request Has a New Look…

We have created an easier to use form that also helps with academic program information.   Here are some of the new features:

  • tuitionRequest by Academic Year – no longer have to choose each term!
  • Dependents and Spouses name will automatically show on your request – no longer have to find their SMU ID numbers!
  • Academic calendars dates are now visible
  • One click to see past years tuition benefit requests


Once you have been accepted into an academic program, request your tuition benefits and choose the academic year.   HR will follow your account for the entire academic year, and award the benefit.  Remember the academic year starts with fall term and ends with summer summer one or two or combined.

The tuition benefits request page will also allow you to see if there are any holds on your account.  In addition, we will email with you each term about the status of your tuition benefits award.

Go to Access.SMU>Self Service>Benefits>Tuition Benefits

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CVS & Walgreen Pharmacies Are Out-of-Network Effective January 1, 2014!

As a reminder, effective January 1, 2014, CVS and Walgreens pharmacies will no longer be in the SMU Health & Wellness Plan pharmacy network administered by Express Scripts. If you currently use CVS or Walgreens to fill your prescription medications, it is time to select a new pharmacy for 2014!

Why is SMU Making This Change?
By removing the CVS and Walgreens pharmacies from the network, other pharmacies have agreed to lower discounted rates. As a result of this change, the University and SMU faculty and staff will save over $1M in prescription costs over the next 3 years.

Which Pharmacies Will Remain in the Network?
There are over 450 in-network retail pharmacies in DFW, including (but not limited to) chains like Costco, Kroger, Sam’s Club, Target, Tom Thumb, and Wal-Mart. In addition, many locally owned independent pharmacies throughout DFW are also included in the network.

How Will You Move Your Prescriptions to a Network Pharmacy?
If you recently used a CVS or Walgreens pharmacy to fill a prescription, you will receive a letter from Express Scripts by early next week, identifying three in-network pharmacies closest to the pharmacy you last used. If you prefer to search for a pharmacy on your own, click here for detailed instructions.

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November is Diabetes Awareness Month!

FallDiabetes… if you don’t live with it yourself, then it’s likely you have a family member or friend who does.  This November during National Diabetes Month, ask yourself if you’re at risk of type 2 diabetes and take steps to prevent it.  Diabetes affects 26 million Americans, with 19 million people diagnosed and 7 million undiagnosed.  Plus, an estimated 79 million American adults aged 20 years or older have prediabetes, which puts them at high risk for developing the disease.

Click here for more information about diabetes from the Centers for Disease Control.

Click here to access a workbook to assist with managing diabetes.

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