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Kicking off

THE TRIBUNE/JESSICA ST JAMES Karen Wilson, with Unger’s Shoes, shows off a variety of footwear during the Live Healthy Live Well 2014 Spring Wellness Challenge. (BELOW) Treva Williams, county extension director, addresses participants and vendors during the kickoff.

THE TRIBUNE/JESSICA ST JAMES
Karen Wilson, with Unger’s Shoes, shows off a variety of footwear during the Live Healthy Live Well 2014 Spring Wellness Challenge. (BELOW) Treva Williams, county extension director, addresses participants and vendors during the kickoff.

The kickoff event for the Lawrence County Live Healthy, Live Well 2014 Spring Wellness Challenge took place at Ohio University Southern on Wednesday and focused on the need for an overall healthier Lawrence County.

Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital Director of Community Health Initiatives Diva Justice said 31 people have completed the event’s online registration.

“There is support in the community,” Justice said. “We just have to organize it.”

The initiative, which is co-sponsored by Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, Ironton aLive, the Ohio State University Extension Office and the Lawrence County Health and Wellness Initiative, is a free, six-week online email challenge designed to help participants improve their health by encouraging physical activity, eating healthy foods and practicing sound fitness suggestions.

Assistant Professor and Field Specialist for Food Nutrition and Wellness for Ohio State University Extension Dan Remley detailed the wellness challenge with a PowerPoint presentation and elaborated on some of its perks.

“We can offer worksite wellness lessons, something we call lunch-and-learns, which are opportunities for businesses that have signed up to work more on planning and wellness consulting,” he said. “But the most important aspect of the challenge is the activity and behavior tracking log. Research shows that people who keep track of their progress are much more likely to see a behavioral change.”

Topics for worksite lessons include “Think about your drink,” “Fat in your diet,” “Cooking for one or two,” “Save your skin: sun safety,” “Sleep: Are you getting your Zs?,” “Physical Activity,” and MyPlate: weight management.”

Fourteen other states, several foreign countries and 66 of Ohio’s 88 counties have participated in similar wellness challenges. Statistics show 54 percent of wellness challenge participants lost weight and 42 percent maintained their current weight. Event coordinators plan to promote the challenge through local events such as the Ironton Farmers Market.

Founder of the Lawrence County Health and Wellness Initiative Dr. Dave Lucas said posters would soon be disseminated to participants for promotional purposes.

“It doesn’t matter how you use them,” he said. “Put your name on them and use them as your own. There is no copyright on them; they can be used in any way you see fit.”

According to research, Lucas said, it takes people an average seven days to develop a habit and seven months to break it, which contributes to the deterioration of the overall mental and physical health of a community.

“Lawrence County’s health factors have it ranked 87 out of Ohio’s 88 counties,” Lucas said. “Every day nearly 30 percent of Lawrence County residents feel as if they’re having a poor health day, which is twice the state’s average. With all of us working together we can change these things, but it’s important you do not get discouraged. I know you want to see change today, but we don’t gain weight in a day and we’re not going to lose it in a day either. We don’t have insurmountable problems, but we do have real problems.”

Free health screenings were offered at the kickoff event and its goal was to encourage businesses to sign up. Participants receive two weekly e-communications from Ohio State University Extension containing research based nutrition, health and fitness information. Additional tracking logs will be available for download to help document progress. A pre and post-assessment online survey will compile comments to improve future challenges and track members’ progress. All collected data is kept confidential and one can opt out at any point.

Participants will learn about adding more vegetables and fruits to their diet, finding more ways to move, trying new recipes, visiting local food outlets, planting herbs, vegetables and fruits in a container or plot garden, seasoning with herbs instead of salt and wearing sun protection every day.

Vendors at the kickoff included Unger’s Shoes, OLBH, Becky Wiseman, Riverview, Lawrence County Early Childhood Academy, Help Me Grow, OLBH Wellness Program, Ironton Health Department and the Workforce Development Resource Center.

Businesses and individuals are invited to sign up by going to http://go.osu.edu/SpLawrence and on the Lawrence County 4-H Club’s Facebook page. Questions can be directed to Remley at Remley.4@osu.edu or 740-289-2071 ext. 241.