Warren County health and fitness experts want 2009 to be the year women make informed decisions about their health.
The first Warren County Health Expo held at the Jefferson DeFrees Center last Saturday, Jan. 17, showed women how to "ring in a new year, a new you."
"Women are at a higher chance of heart disease and hip fractures than men and we really wanted this event to increase awareness among every age of women," said Cheryl Burton R.N., BSN, community health nurse at Warren County Health Center of the state Department of Health. "It is important to make them also aware of their current health status so they can make necessary changes in their routine and diet."
The expo provided free screenings for osteoporosis, breast cancer, blood pressure, body mass index, body fat analysis, cholesterol, oral cancer, glucose, hearing, height, depression, vision, Tdap immunization, waist circumference, weight, flexibility/strep test/home fitness routine.
Also, informative 20-minute breakout sessions were held throughout the morning covering topics such as CPR, cooking healthy with beans, skin cancer, osteoporosis and arthritis, and life beyond menopause.
During the arthritis session, Phyllis Wright discussed how it effects women as well as how to prevent it.
"Arthritis ranks number five on the list of health concerns for women in Pennsylvania," said Wright, adding that she suffers from mild arthritis. "Also, two-thirds of women suffer from arthritis under the age of 65. That it is why it is so important for women to take action early on."
Wright explained that diet and exercise are good ways to reduce the effects or prevent arthritis from getting worse.
"For every pound you are overweight, that is actually adding four to eight pounds on your knees," she said.
Wright demonstrated several strengthening and range of motion exercises she uses in her arthritis classes, such as turning your head for eight counts, both to the left and right, and repeating the movement for ten sets.
"This helps strengthen your neck muscles," said Wright. "Another good exercises is trying to grab your left hand around the upper part of your back with your right hand over your left shoulder. If there is more than five inches between the two, then you might have some difficulty getting dressed."
She advised that even though doing the exercises for a period of eight weeks will help, "you can't stop there. You have to continue throughout the rest of your life."
Wright explained that exercise as well as changing eating habits will provide more energy, result in better sleep, help control weight and, especially during the winter months, decrease the onset of depression.
Kathy Sears, who conducts the Strong Woman, Strong Bones classes at the Jefferson DeFrees Family Center, discussed osteoporosis and bone health.
"Women have a one in three chance of getting osteoporosis in their lifetime. The most common areas are the hip, wrist and spine," said Sears. "After the age of fifty are the bone- loss years and you can lose one percent of bone mass each year after that. There is also muscle loss during this time and what does it replace with? Fat. Sometimes muscle is replaced with more fat than loss of muscle."
Sears, along with Linda Keverline, who recently was certified to train others, demonstrated several exercises, such as side leg lifts for hips and arm raises.
"I can honestly say that after doing the exercises as part of my everyday routine I see a definite improvement in myself," said Keverline. "I really enjoy it."
The expo also held a Community Blood Bank drive and provided women with literature throughout the day.
"This is the first time we have held something like this in Warren County and so far it has been a pretty good response despite the extremely cold weather," said Burton. "We hope to make it a yearly thing."