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W.H.E.E. for Life

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Employee Wellness

The Employee Wellness Team, ‘WHEE for Life’,  was launched in 2009 and works to help employees access the knowledge and tools necessary to make good decisions and choices about their health and wellness.  We encourage you to become familiar with the resources available to you as a NC state employee and to take advantage of the wellness opportunities available to you here in Cullowhee and our surrounding communities.

WCU Wellness Initiatives

In support of the NC State Health Plan’s wellness initiatives, we will continue with efforts related to these core focus areas:

  • Providing information and modeling opportunities related to healthy nutrition
  • Providing information and modeling opportunities to engage in daily physical activity
  • Providing information, resources, and support for tobacco cessation
  • Providing information, resources, and support for stress management
  • And information and resources to enhance our ability to be a wise consumer of health care resources 

our favorite summer challenge recipes

Eat More:

  • Nutrient dense foods and beverages within and among food groups (grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, meats and beans)
  • In general, eat more fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans,seeds and nuts
  • Choose fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains
    • at least 3 ounce equivalents of whole grain products per day
    • at least 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables per day for a 2,000 calorie diet
    • at least 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk equivalents per day
  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables each day

Eat Less:

  • Prepare food and beverages with little added sugars or caloric sweeteners
  • Eat less salt and sodium (< 1 tsp salt), sweets, added sugars, sugary beverages, fats and red meat
  • In general, limit saturated, trans fats and cholesterol
    • less than 10% of calories from saturated fat
    • less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol
    • total fat intake = 20-35% of daily calories
  • Limit lean meats to 6 oz./day
  • Consume alcohol in moderation - up to 1 drink/day for women and up to 2 drinks/day for men
  • Nutrient needs should be met through food consumption not supplements


Health Benefits & Guidelines

People of all types, shapes, sizes, ages and abilities can benefit from being physically active and fit.   Some physical activity is good, including day-to-day expending energy through movement, but intentional physical activity is better.   Choose activities that work for you and talk with your health care team about the amount and types that are right for your abilities or condition.  The American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for adult physical activity include 150 minutes of moderate to intense cardiorespiratory exercise per week in addition to strength training and flexibility.

  • Aerobic--150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise per week—include things like brisk walking, running, dancing, swimming, and playing basketball
  • Strengthening—2-4 sets of 6-10 repetitions at least twice a week for all muscle groups—to make your muscles stronger, like push-ups and lifting weights
  • Flexibility—for 20 minutes, hold each stretch 10-30 seconds until you reach a minute at least twice a week—to complete the recommendations of the guidelines, like yoga and general stretching.

WHEE for Life offers employees regular fitness classes and several seasonal opportunities to get physically active or to assess your physical wellness. These opportunities include Stand-Up Paddleboard Clinics, Trail Days, the Summer BINGO Challenge, the Cross-Training Challenge, and the WHEE AIM series.  

Helpful Resources:

Benefits of yoga
Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
4 week 5K training program

 Stress, in small doses, can help motivate you and help you perform better under pressure.  Chronic stress can be overwhelming and detrimental to your health.  How do you distinguish between 'good' and chronic stress?  What can you do to improve your ability to handle stress?

  • Get your rest - a good nights sleep will help you feel more productive and centered in the morning.
  • Eat well and exercise - regular exercise will lift your mood and eating a healthy, varied diet can prime your body to better cope with stress.
  • Connect with others - positive interactions with others can help calm and soothe your nervous system.  Spend time with those who make you feel good and build your support network.
  • Learn to relax - create time for activities such as deep breathing, yoga or meditation.  Relaxation techniques can bring you joy and serenity.

NC HealthSmart Health and Wellness - Resources available related to Stress

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the US and in North Carolina.  The benefits of quitting smoking are almost immediate, and can last a lifetime.

20 minutes: heart rate, blood pressure drop
12 hours: carbon monoxide in blood stream drops to normal
2 weeks–3 months: circulation, lung function improve; heart attack risk begins to drop
1–9 months: cough less, breathe easier
1 year: risk of coronary heart disease cut in half
2–5 years: risk of cancer of mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder cut in half; stroke risk is reduced to same as nonsmoker
10 years: half as likely to die from lung cancer; risk of kidney or pancreatic cancer decreases
15 years: risk of coronary heart disease same as non-smoker’s risk

WCU Policy 45 states that smoking and vaping are prohibited in university buildings and university owned vehicles. Additionally, smoking and vaping are prohibited within 50 feet of university buildings and may be prohibited in other outdoor space for health and safety reasons.

Quitting is a journey, if you are interested in learning more, there are many resources to take advantage of: provides information and answers to questions related to quitting. offers free cessation services to any North Carolina resident who needs help quitting tobacco use.  
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can help you discover the health benefits and challenges to tobacco cessation through the I’m Ready to Quit campaign.
Also the NC State Employee’s Health Plan offers many resources and benefits for free to help enrolled members on the journey to becoming tobacco free. 

 On Campus Wellness Resources

The Campus Recreation Center includes more than 9,800 square feet of fitness space featuring cardiovascular and weight equipment, two multi-purpose courts, a three-lane indoor jogging/walking track (each lap = 1/8 of a mile), two group exercise/multipurpose studios; a 48-foot climbing wall with belaying and bouldering, full locker room facilities and two assessment rooms. Co-located in the recreation center is WCU's outdoor program, Base Camp Cullowhee.

As a member of the Campus Recreation Center, employees receive the benefits of the center's programs and services including Family Swim, Climbing Wall access, equipment checkout, Group Xercise classes, Intramural Sports, and Personal Training.

Visit the CRC membership page for eligibility, policies, and procedures.

Managed by the Department of Campus Recreation & Wellness, this 12- hole disc golf course is available most hours of the day.  Free disc rental is available at the CRC equipment cage.

WCU faculty and staff are welcome to visit Health Services in situations where "urgent care assessments, treatments, and procedures are needed". Health Services, however, cannot serve as the employee's primary physician for acute and/or chronic medical conditions. In addition to urgent care, Health Services provides immunizations, limited laboratory tests, nutrition consultations, and referrals for outside specialty care.

WCU faculty and staff are urged to consult with their primary care provider for all non-emergency health care needs. Urgent care is defined as treatment for most acute, non-life-threatening medical problems, including allergies, coughs, cold, flu, controlled asthma, sinus infections, rashes, etc.

Employees who are injured on the job may receive care at Health Services. Workers' compensation visits will be charged directly to the department in which the employee works. Employees are responsible for following university and department policies and procedures for reporting workers' compensation injuries.

Fees are assessed for some services and are due at the time these services are rendered. Health Services does not file for health insurance, although a receipt will be provided so that the client/ patient may file an insurance claim. Health Services accepts cash, check, Visa, MasterCard, and debit cards.

Any employee who pays the $3 monthly access fee receives three free office visits each year (i.e. July 1 - June 30). Services such as laboratory tests, procedures, allergy shots, and medications are not covered in the office visit and will be charged to the employee.

Managed by Aramark, there are a variety of locations and dining choices on campus. Aramark understands the power and centrality of food in our daily lives and interactions, and recognizes that our food choices have a significant impact on our health, culture, environment, and local and global economies.  We are committed to fostering new connections from field to fork and changing the culture of food by nourishing our guests with menus that emphasize fresh whole foods that are raised, grown, harvested and produced locally and/or sustainably wherever possible, and prepared in ways that respect and maintain quality, freshness and pureness.

There are fields located at Camp Lab and Norton Hall as well as an outdoor track located by the Soccer and Tennis complex. These spaces are available for use unless reserved for an athletic or departmental event. 

Managed by Base Camp Cullowhee and located in the CRC, a variety of outdoor gear is available for short and longer term rental at reasonable rates.  

There is a picnic area located by the university's softball field. The picnic area is a great place for lunch or relaxing and can be reserved for events.

The Ramsey Regional Activity Center facility includes five racquetball courts and two gymnasiums and the Concourse is open for walking or jogging. Five laps around the outside of the concourse equals 1 mile. Facility access is subject to change depending on Ramsey Center events. Check thier website or contact x7677 for up to date building schedule of operations.

Western Carolina University has a long history of providing recycling services for campus. Our recycling program begin in the early 1970’s with the creation of our food waste collection program. All food scraps generated during meal preparation and left over consumer waste was collected and picked-up by a local hog farmer as a feed source for their operations. This program still exists today, with the same family-owned business, and has saved us a large amount of money by diverting our food waste from the landfill. Our recycling program has expanded over the years to include other waste stream items such as separated paper, metal, aluminum, and cardboard. In the past 5 years, our recycling volume has increased by 85% and our waste diversion rate for 2014-15 was 19%. 

In addition to university recycling efforts, our dining services provider, Aramark, has a strong commitment to sustainability and the responsible management of waste. Aramark is commited to minimizing their environmental footprint by fostering a culture that reduces, reuses, and recycles waste. To support a closed-loop waste management processes, Aramark's innovative practices include partnering with suppliers who share their vision, working to reduce source packaging, enabling recovery and reuse of discarded materials, and recycling waste to create raw materials for other purposes. 

Located inside the Reid Gymnasium building, the Reid Pool is available for free to all WCU employees with presentation of your Cat Card. Family swim is available for spouses and dependents (under the age of 17) of WCU employees for a nominal fee by visiting the Campus Recreation Center. Check out the website for hours.

Smoking is prohibited within 50 feet of buildings on Western Carolina University’s campus under a policy that took effect Tuesday, July 1, 2008. Smoking receptacles were removed from building entrances and placed beyond the 50 foot perimeter of buildings. Informational signs are prominently posted on campus. Students who do not follow the 50 foot smoking perimeter can be issued a “citizen” citation and face a potential violation of the Code of Conduct. Employees not following the 50 foot smoking perimeter may be subject to disciplinary action on performance review.

Managed by Athletics, the complex is available to campus when not reserved for athletic or departmental events.

The campus is a beautiful location to walk or jog. The CRC has mapped out walking routes of varying lengths on the main campus and manages WCU's multi-use trail system.  With over six miles of single-track trails, it's perfect for mountain bikers, hikers, and trail runners.

Hiking/Biking/Walking Trail Maps

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