September 23, 2009

‘Saluki Steps’ plan promotes healthy lifestyle

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Follow the maroon and silver paws one Saluki Step at a time to find a healthier you.

That’s what Saluki Steps, an innovative healthy lifestyle plan unveiled today (Sept. 23) at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is all about. Students, faculty and staff are welcome to participate in the free program created to provide tools to enable the SIUC community to live healthier lifestyles, according to Michelle McLernon and Lynn Gill, program coordinators.

The program has two components. The Saluki Select healthy eating program helps you make better food choices while Saluki Striding is the exercise component, featuring a variety of marked walking paths.

A kick-off event is set for Friday, Sept. 25. Stop by the Student Center between 11:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and meet with a dietitian to explore how the Saluki Select program can work for you. You can also connect with a Saluki Strider and enjoy an escorted walk along any of the newly walking pathways. Just follow the maroon paw prints on sidewalks across campus. Group walks will begin every 15 minutes starting at noon and continuing through 1:30 p.m.

“We are finding health conditions once associated with aging are now occurring in younger populations. Genetics have not changed so that’s not the explanation for this occurrence. However, our activity levels and diets have significantly changed throughout the years, and not necessarily for the better. The Saluki Steps program hopes to provide tools to help people take steps toward making lifestyle choices that positively impact their immediate and long-term health,” said McLernon, coordinator of outreach programming for the Wellness Center within the SIUC Student Health Center.

Studies show that a quarter of all people are sedentary and being inactive is more life threatening than being overweight. However, taking three 10-minute walks a day provides similar benefits to one 30-minute walk, according to McLernon and Gill. In addition, they note that an unbalanced diet is associated with the top three causes of death and is one of the main causes of daytime fatigue. But, they are also quick to say you can still eat out and control your weight and health. And, you can very easily add activity to your daily schedule to improve your health and well-being.

“The Saluki Select healthy eating component assists those eating at the Student Center in identifying the best food choices. In cooperation with University Housing, this program will be implemented next month at the residence hall dining halls as well,” said Gill, coordinator of the Wellness Center nutrition program. “The Saluki Striding program is a non-competitive, safe and convenient opportunity for members of the SIUC community to fit physical activity into their daily routine. We’ve mapped out paths indoors and outdoors all over campus so it’s convenient for anyone who wants to participate.”

You can take your cues from the Saluki paw prints. The paws to the left of menu items at the Student Center identify the best options at each venue. The Saluki Silver paw marks the best choice. Maroon prints indicate the second best alternative among the dining options. Saluki stop signs indicate the least healthy choices. Students can also get meal plans, snack ideas, recipes and more by making an appointment to visit with the Wellness Center nutritionist.

Paw prints also mark the outdoor campus walking paths. Maps of both the indoor and outdoor paths are on the Student Health Center Web site.

Find out more about Saluki Steps at and clicking on the paw print on the Wellness Center link or by calling 618/536-4441.