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Plymouth Community Wellness Fair provides tools for healthy living

October 29, 2009
PLYMOUTH — The Health Place at Boulder Point was buzzing with activity this past Saturday morning as members of the public attended the Plymouth Community Wellness Fair held on the campus of Mid State Health just off the Tenney Mountain Highway.

In addition to free blood pressure checks, cholesterol and blood sugar tests, hearing and vision tests, and skin cancer screening, there was an abundance of information on every aspect of lifestyle that can contribute to creating health and preventing illness.

The event, billed as "Wellness on the Hill", was organized by Plymouth State University's Community Health Promotion class in collaboration with Mid-State Health Center, Sound Advice Hearing Center, the Aquatic Wellness Program at Pemi Baker Home Health and Hospice, and Speare Memorial Hospital.

PSU Professor Mardie Burckes-Miller said students in her health promotion classes have been helping to sponsor wellness events in the community for the last 20 years. Some have taken place at the Senior Center or the Whole Village Family Resource Center, but this is the first time the Fair has been held at the handsome new Boulder Point facility on the hill with a view of Stinson Mountain.

Students from PSU held small group seminars on stress management, body image and a special class entitled "Small Changes, Big Health" giving examples of simple changes that everyone can make that will have a large impact on their overall health. The students emphasized that small steps add up in the effort to establish healthy habits that really payoff in the long run. They gave tips on easy ways to cut down on portion sizes, or add exercise to the daily routine. They stressed that making changes begins with having a positive vision of who we want to be that can inspire us to invest more time each day on cultivating health.

There were plenty of options for those who were motivated to get started to improve nutrition, fitness, and manage their stress level. In addition to an introduction to acupuncture, homeopathy, Reiki, massage and yoga, community members could find out about the host of wellness classes available at the Pemi Baker Aquatic Wellness Center for all levels of fitness. Low impact aquatic therapy is ideal for people with conditions such as arthritis, joint or back pain, or mobility constraints. But aquatic fitness programs for everyone are becoming increasingly popular as a tool for weight control, stress management, and basic strength and fitness. In addition to evaluation and membership options at Pemi Baker, there are a host of classes available on a regular basis, from "joint smart" to "Ai Chi" to "Splash and Burn" water aerobic workouts.

Next door, Cheryl Kenney from Sound Advice was on hand to administer a simple hearing test and to answer questions about hearing loss. She says hearing is important because with it, people tend to withdraw from the social activities that make life meaningful. "It is a good idea for everyone to come in and get a baseline test even if they are not experiencing a problem," said Kenney. "That way if there is a change or something happens, like injury, virus or infection, we will know immediately how to begin to address it." She noted that oftentimes people do not even realize they are experiencing hearing loss until it is corrected. "I can't tell you how many times I have heard somebody say, "Oh my gosh I had no idea what I was missing."

Other exhibitors included Homeopathic practitioner and nutritionist Suzanne Smith from Hebron, who was giving information about homeopathy, a 200 year old system of medicine using remedies from safe, natural sources such as minerals and plants. For examples, she introduced visitors to Arnica Montana, a plant used for the treatment of bruises or sore muscles, something that she frequently uses personally to relieve the aches and pains of hiking to the peaks of New Hampshire's 4,000 footers.

"There are many times that you start to experience symptoms but you don't want to go to the Emergency room in the middle of the night. There are remedies that you can have on hand to begin to alleviate symptoms until you can call your doctor in the morning," said Smith. "There are many options. For example, there are also remedies that you can take for the flu at the very first sign of illness that can help you from getting a full fledged bout."

Smith is has been a certified homeopath since 2001 and is available for consult by appointment.

"There are so many resources out there for people in the community," said Mardie Burckes-Miller. "We want people to know we are here, to reach out to them with screening tests that are necessary for maintaining health, and with information about the many things that they can do to improve their health and wellbeing."

Matin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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