Sunday, July 20, 2008

West Virginia women salute green tech and wellness program

Women on Wellness’ retreat opportunity

FAIRMONT — Whenever Joyce Chuprinko of Morgantown attends a Women on Wellness retreat sponsored by the Center of Excellence in Women’s Health, she learns more about herself.“I get something new out of it every time I go to one,” Chuprinko said. Sometimes that can be a good thing — such as taking a golf class from another woman — while sometimes the news might not be so good, but necessary.
“Last year when I went, they give you a bone density test, and I found out that I had borderline osteoporosis,” she said.Women who attend this year’s event — held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Heston Farm near Pleasant Valley — will be able to experience the same mix of exercise opportunities, lectures on how to take care of themselves, plus screenings that will include testing for blood pressure, cholesterol, and, yes, bone density.
“The Women on Wellness retreat is an outreach effort,” said Betty Critch, the executive director of the National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health at the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center at West Virginia University ( the auspices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are 20 centers, mostly housed at colleges such as WVU, in an effort to encourage a multidisciplinary approach to women’s health.
Many of the centers can be found in large cities such as Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago, Critch noted. “We’re the only one whose capture area is the entire state, and the only one that’s 100 percent within Appalachia,” she said.And West Virginia also is a state that falls near the bottom of the list of many health statistics, including in statistics released this week by the Centers for Disease Control that puts West Virginia among the top five states in adults that are obese.
In an effort to combat such statistics, the Women on Wellness retreats offer a variety of exercise opportunities and allow attendees to pick five to try for 20 minutes each.“What it’s meant to do is plant a seed,” Critch said. “So many women say, ‘I can’t exercise until a find a yoga class’ even though they never haven taken a yoga class. Now they have the opportunity to take yoga say, ‘I didn’t like that,’ or ‘Wow, that was great.’”And because people from the community will be providing the services offered, the women then will be able to follow up with a newfound sport or exercise that they have tried.
For instance, Shelly Vilar, a personal trainer who has a workout set-up in her home for clients, also teaches Zumba — a Latin aerobics class — in places such as Monongah.“I have a large group in Monongah because (otherwise) there’s nothing out that far,” she said. “I’ve had requests to do things in Mannington and Shinnston.
There are places where it’s kind of difficult with travel time, not to mention the price. If I can bring the location to them, it makes it easier.”She will be teaching classes for the first time at the Women on Wellness retreat.“I’m thrilled to death,” she said. “I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for everyone involved. More time and consideration needs to be given to women and it gives them the opportunity to search for things to improve their lifestyle.
”In addition to exercise opportunities, the day includes keynote speaker Laura Davisson from the National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health as well as other sessions that address ways to improve and maintain good health.“Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to be on the South Beach Diet,” Critch said. “We want them to start thinking about, instead of frying a piece of chicken, grilling it instead, or instead of drinking soda, drinking water.
“We have a subliminal message that goes through the day, ‘Have some coffee, tea, fruit, maybe some yogurt and some healthy muffins, in small sizes, not huge.’”Helping women also extends to entire families because more often than not, they are the caretakers and in charge of medical decisions, Critch said. “If you can get women’s attention to leading a healthier life, she will bring family members and the community along.”


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