A crowd of people gathered recently at the Longmont Senior Center for an introduction to the The Wellness Challenge 2004 program. The program, which is consistent with the mission of PrestigePLUS, Longmont United Hospital and many of the sponsoring organizations, is designed to improve the health of people in the local communities.
The Wellness Challenge, which started last year, attracted more than 400 people to sign up. Unfortunately, only about 75 finished the program. This year, the hopes are to attract 500 people to sign up for the program and have 250 finish, according to Michelle Bowman, PrestigePLUS Program Manager.
The program, which asks participants to meet on a weekly basis to measure their success, looks to promote a healthy lifestyle for adults as well as teach healthy habits.
Because the primary cause of hospitalization for people over the age of 55 years old is lung related, and because two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight (and 30.5 percent are obese, according to data from the 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey), PrestigePLUS, Longmont United and many other sponsors have come together to create this award-winning program to prevent chronic illness and promote quality of life.
PrestigePLUS, a Longmont United Hospital membership program for individuals age 55 or older, has teamed up with the Longmont Senior Center and numerous organizations and businesses to sponsor and promote the second annual Wellness Challenge 2004.
The program is intended to encourage participants to set fitness goals, such as increasing the steps they walk daily by 50 percent, and learn about strategies to help them be the B.E.S.T they can be.
The BEST acronym stands for Breathe in relation to lung problems, such as pneumonia, pulmonary disease, bronchitis and asthma – lung problems are the #1 reason older adults are admitted to the hospital.
The "E" stands for "eat/exercise, as obesity and heart problems are the #2 reasons for admission. The "S" stands for sleep – more than 40 percent of PrestigePLUS members report sleep problems on their wellness assessment. The last letter stands for "Train to change." This relates to changing habits over time to make lasting health care improvements.
"Being here is an important first step in making a commitment to wellness," said Dr. Brian Hughes of Rocky Mountain Family Practice, a keynote speaker at the kickoff for the second year’s program. "I’m glad to be a part of this. A while back, there was an article in the ‘New England Journal of Medicine’ that stated just 30 minutes of exercise a day, five days a week reduced a person’s chances of a cardiovascular event by 30 percent.
"You’re looking out for yourself more than anyone, and what you do for yourself will make you stronger. As a physician, when I have patients who take an active role in their healthy way of living, it’s easier to be a doctor, and it’s easier to be a patient."
Pat Blankenship, a participant who signed up for the Wellness Challenge this year, said she is active in a variety of other areas, but likes the ability to work with others – they keep her motivated. "I’m determined not to get old," Blankenship said.
"We are pleased to again challenge the community to be ‘the best you can be’ by participating in the Wellness Challenge 2004 program," Bowman said. "I invite everyone and their fitness peers to participate and let the truer, newer you shine by shedding layers of unhealthy habits and sustaining or establishing healthier ones."