By Greg Ellison
(June 18, 2020) In light of pandemic-related self-isolation and less physical activity on the part of many residents, the Worcester County Health Department is espousing the merits of proper diet and ample outdoor exercise.
Public Affairs Officer Travis Brown said the health department remains committed to encouraging healthy lifestyle choices through prevention activities such as Just Walk Worcester, the Lifestyle Balance Diabetes Prevention Program and Worcester Wellness Weigh.
“Whether you walk, bike, dance or participate in some other form of physical activity, it all adds up and improves your health and overall wellness,” he said.
Brown said Just Walk Worcester is a self-directed, self-reported, incentive-based physical activity program, which allows participants the opportunity to explore upwards of 15 trails offering varying lengths, surfaces and surroundings.
“Worcester is meant for being active,” he said. “From beach to bay, woodlands to parkland, [it] has the perfect location and surface for everyone.”
Brown said the program also establishes individual hiking goals and mileage is reported using the “honor system” with prizes awarded beginning at the 25-mile mark.
“At each milestone you reach, you’ll receive a prize,” he said.
Just Walk Worcester also provides drone video overviews and printable trail maps online.
For further information contact the Worcester County Health Department’s Prevention Office at 410-632-1100 or visit online JustWalkWorcester.org.
Brown said both Worcester Wellness Weigh and the Diabetes Prevention Program are also offered online and include wearable technology.
Worcester Wellness Weigh is a no-cost, healthy eating, physical activity, and weight-loss program designed for all ages.
“Every participant is assigned a nutrition and physical activity coach who provides them weekly coaching designed to help make lifestyle changes last a lifetime,” he said.
The program also includes access to free produce from regional community gardens, virtual grocery store tours and cooking demonstrations.
Brown said the Lifestyle Balance Diabetes Prevention Program lasts for one-year and aims to prevent type-2 diabetes for those diagnosed with pre-diabetes, found to be at risk or with a history of gestational diabetes.
“The program is taught by CDC-trained lifestyle coaches and includes 16 weekly core sessions followed by monthly support sessions for the remainder of one full year,” he said.
Brown said the program, which is a covered benefit for Medicaid and Medicare recipients, is offered through a virtual and distance learning platform.
To learn more about either the Worcester Wellness Weigh or Lifestyle Balance Diabetes Prevention Program call 410-632-1100 x 1108 or email Crytal.Bell1@maryland.gov.
Although most people locally abided by the earlier shelter-in-place directives to help reduce spreading the covid-19 virus, Brown stressed the importance of exercise and outside activities.
“Fresh air and physical activity both play an important role in staying healthy both physically and mentally,” he said. “It can help cope with stress, increase your strength and stamina, improve sleep, and strengthen your immune system.”
Brown said regular physical activity helps improve mood, lowers risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and even certain forms of cancer.
“As Maryland continues to reopen, there are plenty of opportunities for people to get outside [but] we encourage everyone to continue to practice social distancing … wherever you go,” he said.
Brown also highlighted the importance of wearing sunblock to prevent skin cancer, along with limiting exercise to morning hours or later in the day when solar radiation is less intense
“Whether you’re at the beach, a local park, or just walking or biking around your neighborhood make sure to use prevention throughout your day including hand washing and covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough,” he said.
Visit WorcesterHealth.org for a full list of prevention activities and programs or call 410-632-1100 and select “prevention services.”