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Exercise fair teaches healthy habits
Efrem Futrell, a personal trainer at the 4th Brigade Combat Teams fitness center, leads a group of participants in a dance class during the Jan. 11 aerobicthon on Fort Stewart. - photo by Photo by Samantah B. Koss

Fort Stewart’s Newman fitness center hosted an aerobicthon on Jan. 11 to build health-and-wellness awareness.
Various aerobic-style classes were taught by certified instructors with different fitness backgrounds. Attendees participated in kick-boxing, step, Zumba and line-dancing classes. The fair also featured fitness assessments, nutritional information and health screenings between classes.
“We want to promote general healthy habits for everyone in the military community,” Army Public Health nurse practitioner Sandra Durrence said. “At these fairs, we can identify medical needs based on screenings and offer services when needed.”
Durrence and her team from Winn Army Community Hospital’s preventive-medicine clinic analyzed participants’ blood pressure, body-mass indexes, body-mass percentages and blood-glucose screenings.
“Everyone should know their blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol,” Durrence said. “Blood glucose should be between 60 and 110 … and the universal numbers for blood pressure are 120 over 80.”
While those are the universal target numbers for blood pressure, Durrence said those figures may be too high or low for certain people.
“We want people to know what normal blood pressure is for them,” she said. “The 120 over 80 might be high for some and low for others. Everyone varies.”
After participants received their blood-pressure results, test to measure body-fat percentages and body-mass indexes were administered. Body-fat percentages are based on age and gender while a body-mass index is based on height and weight using a mathematical formula people can calculate on their own. Participants’ weight in kilograms was divided by their height in meters squared. The resulting number then was multiplied by 703 to determine body-mass index.
“This is a way to determine if someone is healthy for their height,” Durrence said.
Participants also received information about all the programs available to them at WACH and the Army Wellness Center, such as smoking-cessation assistance.
“Smoking elevates your blood pressure and, over time, your blood-glucose levels,” Durrence said. “It also negatively affects triglycerides and cholesterol.”
Small lifestyle changes can make a difference in overall health, she added. Lofty, long-term goals are sometimes unrealistic and hard to accomplish.
“We can make a tremendous difference in their health if we can get them to lose 10 pounds and quit smoking,” she said. “Even if they don’t make it to their ideal weight, they can be healthy overweight.”
In addition to smoking-cessation help, soldiers, their families and government employees also can attend stress-management sessions and get physical-fitness assessments and metabolic screenings at the Army Wellness Center.
“The metabolic screenings shows you how many calories your body is burning at rest so you gauge where you want to be for diet and exercise,” Army Wellness Center nurse educator Valerie Isaac said. “The stress-management sessions teach soldiers breathing techniques and how to deal with stress and resiliency.”
Isaac said the most popular attraction at the center is their bodpod, a large pod that participants enter for 30 minutes to measure body composition using air displacement.
“Obesity is affecting the military just as much as the rest of the country,” Isaac said. “So the best way to help our military is to provide them with another weight-management resource ... to them.”
After deployment, she added, soldiers tend to see the weight gain come on quickly. This is common because they sometimes can’t do the same amount of physical exercise they were used to doing in the past due to injuries.
“Some will try to get back out there and do the same exercises and injure themselves even worse,” she said. “We want them to understand their limits and stay within them.”
Another health resource for military families and civilians is the Farmer’s Natural Foods in Hinesville. Representatives from the health-and-wellness retailer attend many fairs on post to teach families the important role diet plays in living a healthy lifestyle.
“We want to let people know we are here for healthy alternatives,” store owner Roberta Poppell said. “The foundation of a healthy lifestyle starts with nutrition … that is key in overall health.”
The store has sold organic foods and all-natural products for 30 years. They also host occasional movie nights, where health-related documentaries are screened. Farmer’s offers educational seminars about various health issues and topics, and cooking classes taught by store chef Evelyne Redcross. Redcross also prepares healthy meals for the store’s grab-and-go case, where customers can take home fresh meals for lunch or dinner.
The schedule for cooking classes, movie nights and educational seminars is posted on Farmer’s Natural Foods’ website at

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