Healthy Monday: Syracuse event continues to make an impact

Program encourages people to exercise, eat less meat and practice yoga and meditation, among other things

By Maria Pericozzi

People view Monday — more than any other day of the week — as a day to kick start healthier choices and behaviors, according to research done by Johns Hopkins.

The Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, part of Syracuse University, has been doing Healthy Monday Syracuse since the center opened in 2011.

“We do quite a bit of work on campus and in the community as well,” said Leah Moser, the assistant program director at the Learner Center for Public Health. “We nudge and encourage people to think about their health on Monday, with the idea that having a successful start on a Monday makes people more likely to continue those behaviors for the rest of the week.”

Healthy Monday is a national initiative to end chronic preventable diseases by offering weekly prompts and programs to support people and participating organizations in starting and sustaining healthy behaviors.

The program works in partnership with other departments on campus, including food services, recreation services and many others. Four graduate students are also working with the center to plan and coordinate the initiatives.

“We enjoy having the opportunity to work in partnership,” Moser said. “That’s really what makes our work valuable. These are ideas we hear from our campus community and it is a collaborative effort.”

Meatless Monday, Move-it Monday and the Monday Mile are just a few of the programs offered for Healthy Monday Syracuse. Those programs have also expanded to St. Joe’s Hospital Health Center and Upstate Medical University.

Meatless Monday reduces red and processed meat intake by about 15 percent, Moser said.

“Many health organizations were recommending reducing the intake [of meat] to reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attacks,” Moser said.

There is also a yoga class and meditation on the Syracuse campus every Monday.

“The small changes in the environment prompt people and make it easier for them to do something beneficial for their health on a Monday and keep it going for the rest of the week,” Moser said.

Moser said people enjoy the Healthy Monday Syracuse program.

“We have been continuing to expand and refine our offerings on campus,” Moser said. “We always invite feedback from everyone on campus.”

The end goal of this program is to eventually see a healthy community with lower rates of chronic disease. Moser said in the next 10 years she would like to see an expansion of the campaign.

“I don’t want to see so much that we are extending our presence, but that we are helping to build these ideas of the Monday campaign through work our partners are doing,” Moser said. “We want to encourage people all week long and see a curriculum developed around the idea of Healthy Monday.”