UW-Whitewater professor joins healthy family effort

September 23, 2013

Heather Niemeier, an associate professor of psychology at UW-Whitewater, has joined a Janesville project to help families in the Rock County area change their eating and exercising habits.

Niemeier, who conducts research on childhood obesity, has helped design Fit Families Rock, a family-focused weight loss program.

"This program is created to promote a healthy lifestyle for families in Rock County, including both nutritional health and physical activity," Niemeier said.

Fit Families Rock is an effort of St. Mary's Janesville Hospital, UW-Extension, Dean Clinic, Janesville Family YMCA and UW-Whitewater.

All five institutions have come up with a fitness program created with activities and ideas on changing behavior, managing stress and improving nutrition and exercise. Over 11 weeks, families will attend two sessions a week at the Downtown Janesville Family YMCA. One session will discuss nutrition in the home and the other will emphasize exercise.

Niemeier said exercises will include family tai chi, aqua zoomba, family cycling and a boot camp. Families will learn how to eat better by "focusing on eating more fruits and vegetables, more low-fat dairy, and decreasing energy dense foods like soda, fruit juices and sweets," she said.

Fit Families Rock reached its maximum enrollment of 10 families for this fall's program, but data will be analyzed in hopes the program can be offered again, Niemeier said.

"The ultimate goal is for other counties to catch on to this partnership with a YMCA or local workout facility to teach nutritional values and exercise programs to change behaviors for the better," she said.

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Sara Kuhl

Jeff Angileri