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INSPIRE TO MOVE - Active Recovery for Better Workouts
NOURISHING YOU - Cherry Berry Smoothie
HEALTHY HARMONY - Step Up for PTSD Awareness
GOOD DECISIONS - The Benefits of the Great Outdoors
EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT - A BIG Thank You to Leana Coffey

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 - Active Recovery for Better Workouts

Woman Stretching - Photo credit: Conscious Design on Unsplash 

By Colleen Crawford
You may have been logging your steps and activity for UI Stride Well Traveled or perhaps have added some new physical activity to your routine to gear up for summer fun. Maybe you are training for a virtual 5K or looking forward to summer water sports. All of this physical activity can leave your body feeling sore and yearning for a day off! Did you know that incorporating active recovery into your fitness plan can help restore your body and improve future performance in your chosen activities? Active recovery plays an important role in keeping you moving and feeling your best as part of a balanced workout routine.

Active recovery, when compared to passive recovery or inactivity, can increase blood flow, which improves nutrient delivery to your muscles and removes waste products created during exercise. The result is reduced muscle soreness that is sometimes experienced in the days following a workout. It can also provide a mental break from your regular workout routine and deliver a healthy mood boost. An active recovery routine can include low-intensity cardiovascular exercise, such as walking at a leisurely pace or an easy bike ride, as well as stretching and mobility exercises that focus on moving your joints through their full range of motion. Additionally, you may enjoy foam rolling or other self-massage techniques as part of your active recovery plan.

There are several common approaches for adding active recovery to your routine:

  • Incorporate sets of active recovery exercises between sets of more strenuous exercises during a circuit training or interval workout. Instead of sitting still for 2-5 minutes between sets, opt for light cardio or simple bodyweight movements before picking up your weights again.
  • Immediately following your workout, spend 5-10 minutes gradually reducing your movement intensity to ease your body back into a resting state. After your breathing has calmed and your heart rate has started to slow down, you may also consider adding some dynamic stretching to further support your recovery.
  • Plan an active recovery workout for the day after a strenuous workout. Taking days off from more challenging workouts will help you avoid injury from over-training and allow your body to repair itself. Choose an activity you can participate in while still being able to hold a conversation. This will ensure you are exercising at an intensity level conducive to recovery.

These methods can be mixed and matched to fit your individualized needs and to allow ample opportunity for your body to restore itself. Try adding the practices you like best to your routine and feel the difference in your workouts!


NOURISHING YOU - Cherry Berry Smoothie

 Cherries - Photo credit: Pixabay from Pexels

Recipe Adapted by Lydia Schillinger
Green Smoothie Joy by Cressida Elias

This smoothie is full of berry goodness! If you enjoy a smooth, refreshing banana berry flavor then you are going to love this smoothie recipe. It tastes like cherry ice cream with a twist. If you freeze this smoothie, you have a healthier substitution for the decadent dessert. Enjoy!


  • 2 cups of cherries (pitted)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of raspberries
  • 1 apple (peel and core this)
  • 1 cup of water
  • ice


  • Add 1 T dark chocolate chunks (never optional for me!) or 1-2 tsp of cocoa powder or cacao nibs

Optional substitutions/add-ins to enjoy it Lydia-style:

  • Substitute 1 cup of Silk Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk or use skim milk instead of the water and ice.
  • Add 1 small container (5.3 oz) vanilla Greek yogurt
  • Add 1 scoop (about 1 T) vanilla or chocolate protein powder (if you add this, stay away from the cocoa powder).


  • Blend all the ingredients until smooth (add more ice and/or water if you need it).
  • Add the chocolate chunks and blend gently.
  • Enjoy as a smoothie or freeze to enjoy as a frozen yogurt treat. If freezing, you may add the mixture to small cups or popsicle trays. Let the dessert sit out a few minutes to soften a bit before enjoying.

Nutrition information before substitutions/add-ins: (serving size: 2 smoothies)

Calories 482.6 |Fat 2.7 g |Carbs 120.0 g |Protein 5.7 g |Iron 14.6% |High in potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, copper, magnesium, manganese, and riboflavin.

Nutrition information for optional substitutions/add-Ins:

1 C Silk almond milk adds 30 calories |2.5 g fat |1 g carbohydrate |1 g protein.

5.3 oz. Two Good vanilla Greek yogurt adds 80 calories |2 g fat |3 g carbohydrates |12 g protein.

1 T Hershey’s dark chocolate chips adds 70 calories |4.5 g fat |9 g carbohydrates |1 g protein.

1 scoop Juice Plus vanilla protein powder adds 140 calories |1 g fat |20 g carbohydrates |14 g protein.


HEALTHY HARMONY - Step Up for PTSD Awareness

Jackie Billhymer 

By Jackie Billhymer
June is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness month. According to the National Center for PTSD, posttraumatic stress disorder is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault. These traumatic events can happen to anyone at any age. The event could happen to you or you may witness it happen to someone else. Once it occurs, it is common for a person to have trouble sleeping, feel anxious or withdrawn, or have triggering memories of the trauma. Over time, if these symptoms are left unaddressed they could begin to disrupt daily life, and may require the assistance of a mental health or other medical provider/professional.

The National Center for PTSD is a great resource for understanding the basics of PTSD and includes information about what a person can do to get treatment. Raising awareness for PTSD starts with talking about it. One in 10 men and two in 10 women will develop PTSD after experiencing trauma. It can lead to other mental health issues such as depression, alcohol and drug abuse.

There are a number of coping and other self-help strategies, including online and mobile app resources that can help you manage stress, PTSD symptoms, and find support after trauma. The National Center for PTSD has a couple of ways anyone can get involved with PTSD awareness this month and increase their own well-being:

  • 30 Days of Self-Care – 30 different ideas for self-care practices for every day in the month of June. You can download the COVID Coach app on iOS or Android or download the guidebook.
  • Step Up for PTSD Awareness Virtual Walk – register for the free virtual event and complete 27 minutes of exercise during the month of June for PTSD Awareness Day on June 27.

This topic hits close to home for me. I registered for the virtual walk because I have family and friends who suffer from PTSD. If sharing these resources with you means even just one of you decides to join me in raising PTSD awareness, then the effort is worth it.


GOOD DECISIONS - The Benefits of the Great Outdoors

Tent with chairs - Photo Credit: Uriel Mont from Pexels 

By Christina A. Worthington
Recognizing that the weather is getting warmer, June serves as Great Outdoors Month and also is the national month for camping! While traditional camping is not everyone’s cup of tea, it has benefits that you can take advantage of.

Learn a new skill. The learning possibilities are endless when it comes to the great outdoors. Explore nature by learning to identify species of wildlife or plants and trees. Lie on your back looking up at the stars to see how many constellations you can identify. Try sharpening your survival skills by building a fire, pitching a tent, or fishing. Whatever your interests are, you are likely to find an adventure you will enjoy in the wilderness.

Improve your health. Health benefits may be the first thing you thought of when beginning to read this article. That is probably because the health benefits of camping are plentiful! Camping can be physically demanding if you are setting up a campsite or participating in activities like hiking, swimming, or biking. But it can also be a vacation for your mind. Exposure to natural environments is linked to lower stress levels and a decrease in depressive thoughts. 

Take time to unplug. It is no secret that we live in a society consumed by technology and media. While those things come with convenience, they also become exhausting and time-consuming. It is not uncommon to lose cell phone reception or Wi-Fi when enjoying the outdoors. Take advantage of this quiet time to get lost in your favorite novel, draw in a sketchbook, or meditate. Sometimes you just need to be offline and off the grid.

Maybe you prefer an RV over a pop-up tent, or an air mattress over a sleeping bag. Whichever type of camper you are, I can promise you will feel a sense of restoration and environmental connectedness after spending time in the wilderness!


EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT - A BIG Thank You to Leana Coffey

Leana Coffey 

By Seth Yoder

With Leana Coffey’s recent departure from the System Office Wellness Committee to assume her new role as Human Strategic Capital Lead, some members of the committee wanted to share their thoughts about Leana and her valuable contributions.

Lydia Schillinger:
I want to wish Leana good luck in her new role with AITS. She will be missed on our System Office Wellness Committee. Leana joined at the conception and has contributed on several subcommittees on our System Office Wellness Committee. I worked closely with Leana on the Wellness Connection newsletter sub-committee, where she wrote our “Nourishing You” section and shared many easy, delicious, healthy, and allergy-friendly recipes. I have loved working with her and tasting all of her delicious recipes! I am a big foodie. We will have big shoes to fill in her spot! Leana will be missed.

Colleen Crawford:
I am happy to have had the opportunity to work with Leana on the System Office Wellness Committee and several subcommittees. Her thoughtful contributions fueled conversation and implementation of new ideas. I wish her all the best in her new position!

Jill Odom:
How do you say ‘thank you’ to Leana for her contribution to the System Office Wellness Committee? ‘Thank you’ just doesn’t cover it! Leana has been an extraordinary member of the committee since day one and her enthusiasm has been contagious. She asks questions, provides feedback, supports and encourages, and is willing to take on any task with a smile. Leana is a true professional with a heart of gold and it has truly been my pleasure to work with her on the committee. Saying Leana will be missed on the committee is an understatement, but I feel some solace that she’s just an email or phone call away if we get in a jam! Thank you, Leana!

Christina Worthington:
Leana Coffey has had such an impact on making System Office Wellness what it is today. She’s been on board since its conception and for that we’re so grateful! Many of the wellness campaigns and activities System Office employees enjoy are thanks to the time and dedication Leana has put into helping to organize, create, and execute them. Leana’s passion for wellness didn’t stop with the committee but extended to individual units as well. She’s always been eager to share the great work she’s done within AITS. Thanks for all you’ve done, Leana! It’s time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Jackie Billhymer:
When system office wellness first began, I was unsure what this new initiative was going to look like. Representatives from various system office units joined the first meeting and we started talking about what the charge was and what ideas we had to get the initiative off the ground. Leana jumped into these conversations right from start by sharing her thoughts and ideas about what we could do to promote employee wellness.

Leana’s collaborative spirit and fun ideas were an integral part of the process when we started to develop the Wellness Connection newsletter and the inaugural UI Stride wellness campaign. She volunteered for both subcommittees and has contributed a great deal of time and effort each month to the “Nourishing You” section of the newsletter and with all three UI Stride campaigns. It’s clear to me that Leana genuinely cares about wellness, not just for herself, but for system office employees as well. We have been blessed to have Leana on the committee and I sincerely appreciate everything she has done to make system office wellness what it is today!

Seth Yoder:
Leana has played an integral role in shaping virtually every new initiative the System Office Wellness Committee has rolled out. There are too many examples to cite, but one in particular that stands out in my mind is when we were putting together our first issue of the Wellness Connection newsletter. We were struggling to come up with a name and not only did Leana come up with the name Wellness Connection, but she also provided us with suggestions for the names of each of the sections in the newsletter! Leana has been an invaluable member of the wellness committee and her absence will most certainly be felt. I feel so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to partner with her on work that I know will continue to make an impact around the System Offices far beyond our time here. Leana, you are the BEST, and we cannot thank you enough for all your thoughtful support and guidance.