About 230 Rim Country women learned about beating stress and improving health this weekend.
They attended the 13th Annual Women’s Health and Wellness Forum held Saturday, March 12 at the Payson High School campus.
Attendees learned one of the best ways to beat stress is humor from keynote speaker Elaine Lundberg.
“Laughter doesn’t heal or cure, but it does help,” Lundberg said.
She said 20 seconds of “belly” laughter is equal to three minutes of working out on a rowing machine. Tears of laughter are thought to boost the immune system, Lundberg said.
“Wellness is based on five things: good nutrition; exercise; spirituality; friendship; and play. Play is very important,” she said.
To prove her point she had the audience do a series of exercises patterned after the play of 4-year-olds, including “acting” like tigers, aliens and crying babies. Another exercise grouped those attending by their “new” zodiac signs: cow, lamb, snake and dog by sound (i.e. mooing, baaing; hissing; and barking).
Once the audience was divided into groups, Lundberg had the members come to a consensus about three things that made them happy. Chocolate, reading, travel and wine dominated.
“Stress is always a choice,” she said. “You can either choose to lighten up or tighten up. It’s a matter of changing your mind set.”
One of the most popular breakout sessions at the 2011 Women’s Health and Wellness Forum was the program by Christine Bollier of Vita-Mart — “Fuel your body with healthy meals” — all three sessions were filled.
Bollier opened her program by saying one of the first steps to preparing healthy meals is to set yourself up for success: plan your meals, plan to use leftovers and make sure you have the right equipment.
She said a meal plan would help save money shopping and save time when it comes to cooking.
Bollier recommended buying fruits and vegetables in season, when they are less expensive and fresher, and then using a vacuum sealing system, or something similar, to freeze for later use. She said the fresher your fruits and vegetables are, the better they will taste.
Bollier also talked about how to tell if spices are fresh or not — she said if they smell like the spice, they are fine to use; if they smell like nothing, they should be tossed.
She urged watching the salt content of food purchases and said she would not use any artificial sweeteners due to their chemical content.
“The more real food you eat, as a byproduct you will lose weight,” Bollier said.
Nina Ray’s program “Stretch to Energize” was not an exercise session per se, but participants had a decent workout by the time she dismissed them.
Ray, is a group fitness instructor, personal trainer and consultant for the cardiac rehabilitation program at Payson Athletic Club.
She opened her breakout sessions discussing the benefits of stretching, based on a report from the Mayo Clinic. The benefits include: increased flexibility and range of motion in joints; improved circulation; better posture; stress relief; and enhanced coordination.
Ray said even if you are stretching, you need to warm up first.
“I compare it to a rubber band. If you put a rubber band in the freezer overnight and try to stretch it first thing in the morning it will break. But if you take it out of the freezer and roll it between the palms of your hand, thawing it, it will stretch easily.”
Her recommendation for warming up: walk around and pump your arms. In her session, using upbeat music, she had participants just march in place and then add a toe touch, a heal touch, a knee lift and a kick.
Ray also cautioned against making bouncing movements.
The material she shared from Mayo Clinic said, “Bouncing as you stretch can cause small tears in the muscle, which leave scar tissue as the muscle heals. The scar tissue tightens the muscle even further, making you even less flexible, and more prone to pain.”
She said each stretch should be held for 30 seconds. If there is pain, stop for a few seconds, then try the stretch again. It is also important to remember to breathe while stretching.
Many people, organizations and businesses make the Women’s Health and Wellness Forum possible each year. The founding sponsors are the Mogollon Health Alliance and Payson Regional Medical Center. The Soroptimists of Zane Grey Country was the 2011 forum’s gold sponsor; the silver sponsor was Arizona Area Health Education Centers Program; bronze level sponsors were Hospice Compassus, Rim Country Rotary and Payson Apothecary Pharmacy; contributing sponsors were KMOG, KCMA and KRIM, the Payson Roundup, Plant Fair Nursery, PostNet, Sparkletts and Vita-Mart.
Also assisting with the presentation of the forum were Community Health Charities, Iron Horse Signs, Jack Koon, MHA Auxiliary, Payson General Rental, Payson High School, PRMC Dietary, Rim Country Health & Retirement Community, Rim Side Grill and Cabins, and Soroptimist volunteers.
The forum steering committee included Judy Baker of MHA; Tammy DeWees of PRMC; Gail Gorry, Payson Unified School District; Hart Hintze, PRMC; Carol LaValley, MHA; Bo Larsen, PRMC; Patty Kaufman, Hospice Compassus; and Debra Isaac, PHH Mortgage.