Stockade-athon: Healthy Living Expo focuses on preventing problems
Your physical trainer tells you to write down what you ate today in addition to lifting weights. A physical therapist isn’t content to fix your injury, but also wants to teach you how to prevent another one from happening.
And your health insurance company wants to know how much you weigh and whether you’re still smoking, as well as how often you’re going to the doctor.
Increasingly, the health industry treats physical fitness in a broader way, teaching people to take care of themselves in many ways instead of just focusing on one.
This year’s Stockade-athon Healthy Living Expo, to be held Saturday at Proctors’ Robb Alley in conjunction with the 35th annual Gazette Stockade-athon, will include a number of experts and services involved in some of the different aspects of physical fitness. The expo, with free admission and free parking, runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Participants in Melissa Grattan’s Boot Camp Challenge do regular physical activity, keep a food journal and get their waist-to-hip ratio measured as an indicator of heart disease, as well as other fitness tests.
“The program is more than about just getting out there and pounding the pavement,” said Grattan, owner of Make it Fit of Upstate New York.
But the program isn’t as ruthless as it might sound, and that’s part of taking care of yourself, too.
“My goal is not to get people to puke, pass out or die,” Grattan said. “One of the biggest things we tell them is, ‘Respect your limits.’ ”
So she doesn’t push people to run a timed mile if they say they can’t, but starts them off walking and then works to improve their fitness. And it’s paid off for a group of women who will run in the Stockade-athon with her.
“These are the people who called me and said, ‘I can’t run,’ ” Grattan said. “Here we are, two years later — the same group of girls — they just ran a half-marathon with me last month.”
For people who are healthy now, the emphasis is on staying that way.
“A lot of injuries can be prevented,” said Hector Jasen, physical therapist and owner of HectorPT of Clifton Park and Colonie. He sees people in their mid-30s or 40s whose bodies are “falling apart” because of sports injuries they ignored instead of seeing a professional.
Educating people who are already injured can keep them from getting hurt again once they heal.
“As they learn how their body works, they will be able to take better care of their body,” Jasen said. He teaches people how the shoulder works if they come to him with a shoulder injury.
“We educate them how other parts of their body affect the shoulder.”
His Clifton Park location is in the Southern Saratoga YMCA, where fitness and physical therapy go hand in hand.
The rise of obesity — about one-third of Americans are currently obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — and the knowledge that so many diseases are caused or exacerbated by it, has sparked changes in companies with a stake in the health industry.
It’s a change similar to the one that started happening with smoking 25 years ago, when the health dangers became well-known.
“I think we’re not there yet on obesity, but we’re getting there pretty fast,” said Augusta Martin, chief of marketing for MVP Health Care of Schenectady.
Chances are, your employer or health insurance company now has a rewards program that gives you money if you try to get healthier, by losing weight, quitting smoking or joining a gym.
“It’s really making sure that there’s a program there for everyone, to help everyone be healthier,” said Tracy Langlais, vice president of resource coordination for CDPHP of Albany.
Free programs and classes range from a trial of exercise classes like zumba to how to manage your asthma.
She said the Albany-based company’s work has paid off — insured clients had fewer inpatient stays in 2009 than the state and national average.
Next year, MVP will become the first insurer in the area, and perhaps the nation, to offer money back to patients who score within optimal body-mass index levels and have healthy cholesterol and blood pressure readings.
Money is a powerful motivator to be healthier, Martin said.
“I’m always struck that the thought of death and serious chronic conditions is not enough to make someone quit smoking, but an extra 40 bucks a month is.”
Making fitness fun helps, too.
MVP spokesman Gary Hughes pointed out a wellness program in schools where students walk the halls and teachers calculate how far their collective miles have taken them across the country.
“If you just said to the kids, ‘We’re going to walk through the halls once a day,’ it’s not nearly as much fun as if you said, ‘I walked to Cleveland.’ ”