New BYUH health initiative uses apps and lifestyle messages to promote wellness of community

Written by: 
Helam Lau

A study from London bus employees found that drivers put on weight and had uniform pant sizes progressively growing throughout their lives, while the conductors who spent their days collecting fares while going up and down the stairs on double-decker buses maintained healthier weights and had healthier, longer lives.


Another study from the College Alumni Health Study showed students who participated in varsity sports in college lived longer and healthier lives. Those students who took up vigorous physical activity after college also benefited. The rule of thumb is that for every hour of vigorous exercise, one can expect to add two or three hours of quality life onto their life.


Relating both these studies as reasons for his purpose here, senior missionary Elder Vance Smith said he has been called to promote a Health and Wellness Initiative for the BYU-Hawaii community.


“Today at BYUH, we no longer have varsity sports instilling lifelong exercise habits, and most graduates and employees will have jobs demanding about the same amount of physical exertion as that of bus drivers.


The initiative includes promoting two free mobile phone apps: Pedometer++ and Charity Miles.


Pedometer++ uses a personal mobile device to count how many steps are walked each day. According to Smith, “Ten thousand steps per day is the recommendation for fitness. In the United States, most people just walk 3,500 steps per day.”


Charity Miles has users “pick a charity and have a corporate sponsor like Johnson & Johnson to pay that charity 25 cents per mile for their outdoor walking, or 10 cents per mile for cycling or skateboarding,” he said.


Including intramural sports and current healthy lifestyle messages, Smith said these activities will “instill an atmosphere that encourages healthy lifestyle behaviors now and into the future.”


Jeremy De Guzman, a senior from the Philippines and exercise science major, said, “I think [the initiative] would be wonderful because this gives students an outlet of knowing how to improve their health and make their lives better.”


Joel Reece, an assistant professor of the Exercise and Physical Education Department and one of the organizers of the initiative, said he works with different departments at the school in order to involve the program.


“What I am trying to help students to understand is that there are lots of aspects of health, and we need to not forget other areas. It is not just about exercise and eating healthy.


“We try to sum it up into four areas: physical, spiritual, mental, and social health. Like what Luke 2:52 says, ‘And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.’ When you look at wellness, you cannot just say one area. They are all interrelated, and when we get off balance, then it can hurt other areas of health.”


Reece said he is currently working with students who are majoring in computer science, graphic design, and exercise and sports science to develop a wellness app to help students to track their own health and wellness.


“Our goal is to have the simple version of the app available at the beginning of the Winter Semester… We are doing as best as we can in the progress of it. It will continue to have updates and new versions.”


In regards to Reece’s goal for the app, De Guzman said, “I think it’s great because when people think about health they only think about the physical, but this app can broaden their mind that there are other aspects of health. This helps them to become healthy overall and promote all four aspects.”


He said as an example, “I think if you have a healthy mind, then you will have a healthy spirit. It balances a person out and does not focus on one thing, but all aspects.”

Date Published: 
Saturday, November 11, 2017
Last Edited: 
Saturday, November 11, 2017