Big Spring State Hospital Employees Practice What They Preach

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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Valerie Avery
April 2, 2010 (432) 816-9257

BIG SPRING - Big Spring State Hospital employees are making a concentrated push to practice what they preach.

Today’s patients tend to gain weight more easily because of the addition of newer, more effective antipsychotic medications prescribed to manage mental illness. The weight gain coupled with research indicating the positive effects exercise has on a person’s mental health has moved Big Spring State Hospital employees to get patients out the door: either to the walking track, the exercise room or the basketball court.

Many patients also walk from their units to the Activity Therapies Department building where their fitness activities are located. Others work in the greenhouse, turning the soil to prepare for plantings of vegetables, flowers or ornamental grasses and shrubs and in the process building muscles and increasing aerobic capacity.

Employees have always been given access to much of the same exercise equipment made available to the patients, as long as it was not being used at the time by patients, said Amy Summers, Big Spring State Hospital Recreational Therapist. And many took advantage of its availability. But nothing has prepared her for the recent interest in exercise since the beginning of the year.

Big Spring State Hospital leadership made a huge push to actively promote, encourage and offer exercise programs to all of its 650 employees.

Classes in self-defense and yoga are now offered, along with making the Wii available during lively Friday sessions. Those activities are coupled with a highly competitive volleyball tournament with the winner facing a team from the San Angelo State Assisted Living Center. Nearly every day, more than a dozen people can be found in the gym playing volleyball.

Activities range anywhere from running, curling, disc golf to housework. Organizers suggest 150 hours of activity a week. “That’s five days at 30 minutes a day,” Summers said.

Many of the employees exercising on campus or while away from the office are competing in the Big Spring State Hospital Survivor Challenge. No one is voted off of the island, but the 52 employees who have signed up do engage in a friendly competition to see who has logged the most minutes of exercise each week, said Sandy Griffin, one of the organizers of the competition.

Big Spring State Hospital’s Survivor Challenge and push toward an active lifestyle coincides with GetFitTexas!, a program under the umbrella of the six-year-old Texas Roundup. Texas Roundup is a statewide initiative which encourages employees to exercise and eat healthy year-round. Enrollees track hours exercised and compete against each other for most minutes earned during the competition period which ends April 10. The program includes a free online activity tracking system.

In 2004, Governor Rick Perry launched the Texas Round-Up statewide fitness initiative and 10K race to motivate and encourage Texans to become more active and to incorporate healthy choices in their daily lives. Today, Texas Round-Up is an independent not-for-profit organization working to improve the health of Texas through education and promotion of physical activity and healthy living. Texas Round-Up provides Texans with tools, opportunities, and programs that encourage and allow for Texans of all ages and fitness levels to participate.

Big Spring State Hospital employees who record their hours through Texas Roundup compete with other state agencies for the state agency crown.

Texas Roundup can be found:   http://www.texasroundup.org/

At the completion of the program on April 10, the hospital will offer four hours of emergency leave for completing the program, Summers said.

The state contest officially ends April 10, but hours can be entered throughout the year.

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Last updated August 30, 2010