Treating lifestyle changes like an adventure instead of a chore is a smart way to take ownership of your health.
In 2018, Marram Health Center received a generous grant from a leading Lake County philanthropic partner, Legacy Foundation, to create a 16-week wellness program called Healthy Adventures. The program is geared toward patients with diabetes and hypertension, as well as those at risk of developing diabetes. It is all tied to Marram’s mission of enhancing the physical and mental health of community members.
Led by Channae Watkins, BSN, Nurse Educator, Healthy Adventures took place at the YWCA Northwest Indiana. Watkins and program developers determined that the best method of addressing diabetes was to target lifestyle changes that decrease blood pressure, because high blood pressure is a risk factor for diabetes. In other words, they wanted to create programs that would help people embrace nutrition and exercise. Healthy Adventures dedicated eight weeks to healthy eating and eight more to healthy movement.
For the nutrition component, Marram Health Center partnered with Purdue Extension’s Nutrition Education Program to enlist the aid of a nutrition specialist. They combined education and fun, as participants learned recipes for healthy dishes and tried their hand at making them—taste testing encouraged. Locally-available ingredients and quick n’ easy recipes made Healthy Eating both practical and entertaining.
Healthy Movement engaged the fun in functional, too. Tag teaming with a Jazzercise instructor, Marram provided classes for participants to get into motion. The objective was to present them with enjoyable exercise that is “portable”—meaning it can also be done at home!
In addition, the program gave participants free memberships to the YWCA facility, including access to the fitness area, pool, courts, and other classes. Weekly progress checks, such as weigh-ins and blood pressure tests, ensured that everyone was on a strong track.
Among 40 participants, 13 lost weight totaling an average of seven pounds, 15 achieved the targeted range for their blood pressure, and seven improved their Hemoglobin A1c levels.
Participants also were armed with a sense of empowerment when it comes to their health. The goals of the program—to improve participants’ overall health status; to decrease the impact of chronic illness; and to help them feel better, healthier, and more in charge of their health—were realized.
Next time, Marram Health Center looks to extend the program to younger ages and families and increase access to healthy foods. Until then, previous participants are enjoying the adventure of a healthier lifestyle.