‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌   ‌


INSPIRE TO MOVE - Building a Well-Rounded Movement Routine
NOURISHING YOU - Pumpkin Turkey Chili
HEALTHY HARMONY - World Mental Health Day is October 10
GOOD DECISIONS - Educating Yourself on Breast Cancer
EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT - System Office Wellness Committee Year in Review

Feedback - SOWellness@uillinois.edu
The System Office Wellness Committee strives to cite relevant information from reputable sources. Employees should always consult with their physician before making any kind of health decision or change.

INSPIRE TO MOVE - Building a Well-Rounded Movement Routine
Photo Credit: Jess Bailey of Unsplash 

By Colleen Crawford
With so much fitness and wellness information available at our fingertips, it can be overwhelming to decide which pieces should be included in your movement or exercise routine. What elements are most important? How often should I exercise? Do household chores count as exercise?

The top factor in shaping your movement routine is what you want out of your routine. You may have short- and long-term goals and they may shift over time. Consider using the SMART Goals Worksheet if you need help defining your goals. Revisit your goals regularly and use them to inform your routine.

Once you have specific goal(s) in mind, there are 5 essential elements that should be present in any plan:

Aerobic/Cardio Activity – This includes activities using large muscle groups/full body movements which increase breathing and heart rate. Regular aerobic activity can strengthen your heart and lungs, allowing them to more efficiently transport oxygen throughout your body. Current guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity spaced throughout the week. Your participation in the UI Stride Walktober challenge is a great way to get your aerobic activity in this fall!

Strength Training – Any exercise which places a load (dumbbells/weights or your bodyweight) on your muscles and bones counts as strength training and can help you maintain or increase the lean muscle tissue and bone tissue in your body. Since both muscle tissue and bone tissue naturally decline with age, including strength training in your weekly fitness routine can help slow that decline and aid in healthy aging. Being strong also makes completing all of your daily responsibilities easier! Try to include strength training in your routine at least twice per week.

Core/Stability Training – Your whole trunk, from your shoulders down to your hips, is your core. A strong core supports healthy posture, holds your internal organs in place, allows you to move your arms and legs effectively, and helps you keep your balance.  A great core routine will include both mobility and stability exercises, and work the sides and back in addition to the front.

Balance Training – Having good balance is a benefit at any age, but is especially important for older adults. Being able to maintain balance on slippery ice, when climbing stairs, or simply while moving throughout your day will reduce the likelihood of falls and injuries. A great bonus for balance training – it strengthens your core too!

Flexibility/Stretching – Stretching can help you maintain or improve the range of motion in all of your joints, allowing you to move with ease. Devoting some time to stretching can also help improve your performance in other fitness areas. Adding just a few flexibility exercises to your routine can reap benefits.

When building your movement routine, consider your lifestyle and the demands of your work and household responsibilities. Remember that your daily life activities count toward meeting the recommended targets for activity and that many exercises crossover into more than one category. Work within the limits of your schedule and find the balance that leads you toward your goals and leaves you feeling strong and accomplished. Also recognize that your routine may vary throughout the year due to weather, family or work commitments, or other personal factors. The changing of the seasons can be a helpful cue to remind you to check in on your progress and readjust if necessary.

 Photo Credit: Joybauer.com - Link to recipe

Recipe by Leana Coffey
Dairy-free, gluten-free. Serves 6
Prep time: 10 min. | Cook time: 25 min. | Total time: 45 min.

One of the best things about fall is having a big pot of chili cooking on the stove! I love trying new chili recipes and this one is fantastic! This healthy recipe has the added benefit of helping to lower blood pressure with five tasty ingredients – cocoa powder, pumpkin, spinach, garlic, and white beans. Adding pumpkin also gives it a richness without a strong pumpkin taste. I wasn’t too sure about adding spinach, but I gave it a spin and loved it! You can leave that out if you’d like, but give it a try, you might like it, too. Enjoy!


  • 1 large yellow onion, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 medium bell pepper, red, yellow, or orange, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced (or 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1⅓ pounds ground turkey or chicken, 90 to 93 percent lean
  • One 15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with liquid, preferably reduced sodium
  • ¼ cup tomato paste, no salt added
  • One 14-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon (or 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice)
  • 2½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves
  • Avocado, optional
  • Sour cream or nonfat plain Greek yogurt, optional
  • Cilantro, optional


  1. Liberally coat a large pot or Dutch oven with oil spray and warm over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onion and bell pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 7 minutes, or until the onion softens. Add the garlic, stir everything together, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the ground turkey or chicken. Use a spatula or large spoon to break up the meat as it cooks. Continue to cook about 6 to 7 minutes, until fully cooked.
  4. Add the beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, pumpkin puree, broth, chili powder, cocoa powder, cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice), cumin, black pepper, and optional cayenne pepper, and stir.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Right before serving, add the spinach and mix throughout.
  7. Enjoy the chili with desired toppings, such as avocado, nonfat plain Greek yogurt, and cilantro.

Nutrition Information: (Serving size 1½ c.) Calories 300 | Carbs 31g | Fat 8g | Protein 27g | Sodium 570 mg | Fiber 8g | Sugar 10g

Picture of man jumping - Photo credit Marc Najera of Unsplash - link to mental well being resources 

By Jackie Billhymer
“I’m exhausted from trying to be stronger than I feel.”
~ Unknown

The impact of COVID-19 has brought an incredible wave of change and an increased awareness around mental health and wellness. According to the World Health Organization, mental wellness is defined as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” How do you become more aware of your abilities or determine if you are not coping well with stress? It is not always easy to recognize when you may need support.

As a University of Illinois System employee, you have access to resources that can be utilized no matter what you may be experiencing. The State of Illinois and the system have free, voluntary and confidential Employee Assistance Programs that can help with a variety of concerns, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Anger management
  • Anxiety or worry
  • Conflict at work or home
  • Domestic violence
  • Elder-care issues
  • Family/parenting issues
  • Depression
  • Financial concerns
  • Grief/loss
  • Pre- and post-natal concerns
  • Problems with alcohol or drugs
  • Stress

In addition, the World Health Organization has a mental well-being website with resources for maintaining mental health and reducing stress. It has an illustrated guide and audio files with information for practicing self-help techniques and managing stress. Mental wellness is key to your overall well-being and it is important to remember that you are not alone.

Symbol for Breast Cancer Awareness - Link to National Cancer Website 

By Christina A. Worthington
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Often during this month, you’ll see specialized pink packaging on well-known brands or your favorite sports teams donning pink apparel, but breast cancer awareness is more than the color pink. Awareness is knowing risk factors, taking preventative measures and understanding facts about the second most common type of cancer in American women. As always, you should consult with a trusted physician to discuss any risks or concerns you have about breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

  • Family History – Women with a family history of breast cancer in a first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) have an increased risk of breast cancer. Women who have inherited changes in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes or in certain other genes have a higher risk of breast cancer.
  • Dense Breast Tissue – Having breast tissue that is dense on a mammogram is a factor in breast cancer risk. The level of risk depends on how dense the breast tissue is. Women with very dense breasts have a higher risk of breast cancer than women with low breast density.
  • Alcohol Usage – Drinking alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer. The level of risk rises as the amount of alcohol consumption rises.

Preventative Measures

  • Yearly Mammograms – At the age of 40, women have the option to start getting yearly screening mammograms to detect any sign of disease that cannot be felt or seen. These yearly screenings are often responsible for early detection of breast cancer. Women with a family history of breast cancer may begin these annual screenings prior to age 40 with a physician’s recommendation.

  • Genetic Testing – Most experts agree that mutation testing of individuals who do not have cancer should be performed only when the person’s individual or family history suggests the possible presence of a harmful mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. However, this test cannot tell if a person will ever develop the types of cancers linked to these genes.

Misinformation About Breast Cancer

  • MYTH: Breast cancer affects women only. Each year it is estimated that approximately 2,190 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer. While the percentage is still small, men should also check themselves periodically by performing a breast self-exam and reporting any changes to their physician.

  • MYTH: Finding a lump in your breast means you have breast cancer. Only a small percentage of breast lumps turn out to be cancer. While changes in breast tissue should always be reported to your physician, the abnormality could be something like a cyst or scar tissue.
System Office Wellness Committee Year in Review

By Seth Yoder

It has been an exciting first year for the System Office Wellness Committee. To commemorate the first year, we would like to highlight a few of our biggest accomplishments. We are proud of the initiatives we launched this year, and we are looking forward to rolling out even more health and wellness activities in the coming months. Thank you for all of your support in making the University of Illinois System Offices a healthier and more vibrant place to work.

UI Stride:

We launched the first UI Stride in October of last year with 260 System Office employees participating across 24 teams. During the campaign, we were able to provide participants with T-shirts and inspire System Office employees to add a little more movement to their daily routines. At the end the campaign, the entire group totaled 70,891,035 steps, with each participant averaging 272,658 steps over the six-week challenge. The Office of Technology Management in Chicago walked away with the bragging rights and showed everyone that it doesn’t matter how many staff members are in your unit, it’s all about how you work together to accomplish a common goal! In September, the System Office Wellness Committee launched the second UI Stride Campaign called Walktober. In the second iteration of UI Stride, the committee has partnered with a company called Health Enhancement System (HES) to offer a competition that is not only challenging but engaging. The updated campaign provides participants with the opportunity to join teams, post photos of workouts on a virtual wall, and receive health tips and beautiful photos of fall landscapes to keep us motivated to get outdoors during this beautiful season.

Wellness Connection Newsletter:

The System Office Wellness Committee understood an important component of any wellness initiative is to communicate information, share resources and provide value to the employees it serves. This is how the Wellness Connection newsletter was born. A small subcommittee was formed and developed a newsletter that would not only share information about important initiatives, but also provide helpful health and wellness advice that could be incorporated into employees’ daily lives. Throughout the first year of the newsletter, monthly themes were added, providing health and wellness tips and tricks, and highlighting the great health and wellness resources and events happening in the University of Illinois System. The newsletter format was also modified to provide greater accessibility for our readership. It has been a great first year for the Wellness Connection and we’re anxious to see what the upcoming year has in store.

System Office Wellness Lecture Series:

Each month in the Wellness Connection, we shine a light on the great work we are doing in the U of I System in the area of health and wellness. However, the articles only allow us to scrape the surface, so we decided to initiate the System Office Lecture Series. Each quarter, we select one of the employee spotlights to deliver a virtual lecture to System Offices employees. These lectures allow experts in the field of health and wellness to expand upon the concepts they discuss in the newsletter and grant our audience the opportunity to engage with some of the brightest minds in the field. In the first year of the lecture series, we had Dr. Joan Briller from UI Health deliver a presentation on how to increase and sustain a heart-healthy lifestyle, and Cindy McKendall taught us how to navigate the internet a little more safely. We are so fortunate to work for an institution that supports such great work. We cannot wait to highlight more wellness knowledge in the coming year.

UI Stride Walktober Stats as of 09.30.20