Getting Active – with the HSZ and TK

15/09/2016

The RWTH Aachen University Sports Center or HSZ wants students and lecturers to move more during the day. This is now possible thaks to a new project for workplace health promotion with the health insurance provider Techniker Krankenkasse.

 

What first began as a pilot project is now "literally a brand," describes Peter Lynen, head of the University Sports Center – HSZ: Pausenexpress, which consists of small periods of movements, ensures that working individuals get a chance to move and relax at the workplace. 800 to 1,000 people take advantage of the offer at RWTH and FH Aachen – the program began with just 200.

The success story is continuing: With the new health project sponsored by the Techniker Krankenkasse – TK – "the University Sports Center can now expand its focus to include student health in addition to that of employees," explains Uwe Bollmann, academic staff member at the HSZ. Until now "the university as a living environment" has not come up among political decision makers for health promotion, as Peter Lynen determined at the Landeskonferenz Sport. Masoud Mizai, head of customer service for Aachen-Campus at the Techniker Krankenkasse, knows that about three million people nationwide work at a university: "These institutions are thus of significant importance to society," he says. Students will later take their experiences from university with them as they enter professional life. The Techniker Krankenkasse is naturally interested in supported health related projects at universities – including at RWTH of course, together with the HSZ. "Our partnership is over two decades old. There's a foundation of reliability and the same demands for quality on both sides," says Lynen happily. Mirzai adds, "We have always worked well and confidently with each other – there's never been another partner."

The Techniker Krankenkasse can not only provide the University Sports Center with financial support but also knowledge. "Since 2002 we've been able to gain experience through similar projects, which we can now implement," explains René Schulz, advisor for workplace health management in Rheinland as the TK and project coordinator. He is certain he can provide help with the structure and offer a few ideas.

But what does the project actually consist of? Uwe Bollman explains that a Pausenexpress for students will be created that ensures a short, active interruption to everyday university life. A test phase was conducted during the summer semester in seven seminars, with over 95 percent of participants convinced of its effectiveness. "My personal wish is to bring the project into lectures," he adds, with enthusiasm for expanding their offer.

The program also includes offers for relaxation and stress management and correct nutrition: For example cooking courses in small groups are in the works. The topic of sitting is particularly near and dear to Uwe Bullmann – something that's underestimated in current society. The planned "sit check" asks questions like "How much do I really sit every day?" and "What exercises balance out sitting?." Overall particpants can look forward to a broad spectrum of offers, with which the project will bring university life into motion.

Sustainability will not be forgotten in all of this. The program is initially limited till the end of September 2018, but Peter Lynen can imagine expanding it within RWTH and FH in Aachen. This is an important topic that is also supported by Angelika Blanke's involvement, the deputy market region director of Rheinland at TK. "My area begins in Aachen and extends to Siegen. I am happily here to support the importance of the whole project," she says, excited about the development of the project.