Health and Wellness at SMU: How Are We Doing?

In education, grade reports are routine and when managed appropriately they can provide us with important feedback about our performance and achievement in a specific subject. In wellness, our individual annual physical or on-site screening results serve as our wellness “report card,” giving us insight into our overall wellness and what areas might need some attention. At the end of each year, Human Resources receives an aggregate report on everyone who participated in the screenings this past year. No individual data is ever shared, we simply get a group snapshot of our trends and wellness indicators. This type of group feedback helps us understand the bigger picture when it comes to wellness at SMU. By sharing it with you, we hope you’ll become more engaged in making SMU a healthier place to work!

Group Reporting
Concentra, the company that provided our on-site screenings last year, produced  an executive summary report based on the 630 people who completed biometric screenings and health risk assessments in the fall of 2010 and spring of 2011.

As you can see from the chart, a number of wellness factors need our attention as individuals and collectively. The good news is that most of these factors can be positively addressed with lifestyle changes to our eating and exercise behaviors. More good news? SMU has a number of excellent resources to support you in making these lifestyle changes. But before we move on to talking about goals and resources, let’s take a look at some trends.

Data Trends
Concentra also provided a progress report of 233 individuals who completed screenings in both 2009/2010 and 2010/2011. The number of people who were screened across both years dropped from 492 the previous year, resulting in a much smaller sample size for this year’s progress report.



Based on this sample population, significant improvement was seen in High-Density Lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol, (8%). HDL is often referred to as “good cholesterol” and is described by the Mayo Clinic as “cholesterol scavengers, picking up excess cholesterol in your blood and taking it back to your liver where it is broken down. The higher your HDL level, the less ‘bad’ cholesterol you’ll have in your blood.”

An undesirable increase in triglycerides levels (12%) was also reported. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood which can lead to coronary artery disease if levels become too high. When you eat, your body converts any unused calories into triglycerides and stores them in your fat cells for later use . If you regularly eat more calories than you burn, and specifically calories from carbohydrates and fats, you may develop a high triglyceride level.

As shown in the chart, modest gains were made in the numbers of people reporting good nutrition status, good cholesterol status, good blood pressure, and adequate sleep. Overall wellness, an aggregate measure across several categories, increased slightly. 128 people achieved “Good” to “Excellent” on the wellness factors and clinical tests measured. Most other group measures were relatively stable with a 2.5% or less difference between the two years.

Wellness Goals
So now we have the feedback, what’s next? We should consider creating goals to address the areas that concern us the most. Wellpower will focus its attention in the coming year on heart health, cancer prevention, and promoting the need for a variety of annual preventive care screenings. We’re busy planning challenges, educational events, screenings, and more to support SMU’s overall wellness.

What about you? SMU as a whole can’t get healthier, if we, as individuals, don’t do our part. As mentioned earlier, SMU has some great resources to help you get started with a fitness and/or nutritional goal.

Here are just few ideas:

Have a question or suggestion? Email us at

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About Lorea Seidel

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