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A Picture of Health


By Mary Daily, Photos by Angie Smith

Published Oct 1, 2014 8:00 AM

Move Well

This pod is not just about exercise. Its goal is to “broaden the impact of being active in different ways, both within and beyond UCLA Recreation, where many of the pod’s programs originate,” says Angelia Leung, who is the academic director of the pod and chair of the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance (WACD). In planning and overseeing the pod, she partners with Mick Deluca, executive director of Recreation and Campus Life.

Healthy Lifestyles Built Here

All over the campus, the UCLA community is choosing wellness.

Video by FWD:labs

Besides organized classes and team sports, the pod’s physical fitness programs include Instant Recess and Fit Breaks, which are short periods of activity at various campus locations throughout the day. FITWELL offers free worksite wellness classes, and the student-led FITTED encourages exercise participation by underrepresented groups.

In addition, organizers of meetings lasting 90 minutes or longer are encouraged to include five-minute stretch breaks and to promote healthy eating habits through guidelines developed with Eat Well. The Bruin Health Improvement Program provides no-cost intensive lifestyle training for faculty and staff. Those who like to walk can choose from 14 campus walking groups per week, including the Stairwell Activation program.

The pod’s programs embrace a broad view of wellness that includes arts-based events sponsored by the HCI and the UCLA Art & Global Health Center to foster positive dialogues, decision-making and attitudes toward sexual health. A new WACD course titled “Action Conversations” will focus on “healthy conversations” with students around topics of sexual abuse and gender identity.

Breathe Well

On Earth Day 2013, UCLA banned all tobacco products on any property wholly owned or leased by the university. Dr. Michael Ong, an associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, heads the Breathe Well pod. Based on the reduction in cigarette litter on campus, he says the ban has been “really successful, although we are still working toward 100 percent compliance.” The prohibition is mostly self-enforcing. “Not smoking has become the new normal; the expectation is that people don’t smoke,” Ong says. But the ban empowers nonsmokers to tell smokers it’s not OK. He says research shows that about two-thirds of smokers want to quit, and the ban and the social stigma encourage them to do so.

Mind Well


“Our intention is to create a mindful, compassionate campus that is truly unified,” Jane Semel says of the Mind Well pod in particular. Led by Robert Bilder, a psychology professor affiliated with the Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior (which the Semels endowed), this pod coordinates mindful awareness programs across campus, plus about 30 Fiat Lux courses related to topics of the mind. It also provides scientific analysis of popular well-being apps, ferreting out what Bilder calls the “snake-oil factor.”

In addition, at the Semel Institute’s Brain Gym — which provides demonstrations of tools for cognitive exercise, neurofeedback, and sleep and stress monitoring and management — individuals can book an appointment with a brain fitness personal trainer. Other Mind Well projects include studies of the effect of light on sleep and of the relationship of martial arts to innovation, in collaboration with Move Well. In the UCLA Lab School, a pilot mindfulness program is under way that may possibly be extended to the Los Angeles Unified School District.