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Health Care

Addressing Chronic Illnesses Online

By Vicky Janowski, posted Jun 5, 2020
Healthy Weight and Your Child is one of the YMCA of Southeastern NC's programs moving to online components, with the aim of enabling families to lower their risk of diseases and improve their health. (Photo c/o of YMCA)
Chronic diseases continue to be a focus for the YMCA of Southeastern North Caroli­na, even as its fitness centers remain closed to members.
 
The local YMCA recently re­structured its evidence-based health initiative programs so that they can be provided vir­tually.
 
This month it launched new classes, starting with its diabe­tes prevention, blood pressure self-monitoring and Healthy Weight and Your Child programs, according to a news release. Other classes also are moving online for Moving for Better Balance.
 
“Our YMCA is one of the first in the nation to offer these programs virtually,” program coordinator Bridget Carroll said. “While social distancing practices are in place, we strongly encourage anyone that is at-risk for chronic disease like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or childhood obesity to make the most out of this time at home and consid­er participating in these programs to lower their risk and improve their health.”
 
Like other indoor gyms across the state, the YMCA of Southeastern North Carolina has not been allowed to reopen its fitness centers yet. The state did not include the category in the list of facilities and businesses that could open to the public when it moved into the latest phase of loos­ened restrictions on May 22.
 
The YMCA of Southeastern North Carolina’s classes, for quali­fying participants, were expanded in collaboration with Y-USA and the N.C. Alliance of YMCAs, officials said in the release.
 
“We have seen a lot of growing interest in these programs because classes can now be completed at home, making it a lot more con­venient for participants, especially those with children in our Healthy Weight and Your Child program,” said Sarah Gibbs, the local YMCA’s director of financial development and marketing.
 
“We hope that our community will make the most of this time at home and do what they can to reduce their risk and adopt some healthy lifestyle changes.”
 
In the diabetes prevention pro­gram’s virtual sessions, adults at risk of type 2 diabetes participate in on­line group sessions led by a certified diabetes prevention lifestyle coach.
 
The four-month blood pressure self-monitoring program includes online nutrition seminars, personal consultations and a blood pressure monitor so participants can track their blood pressure at home.
 
Moving for Better Balance is a taichi fall prevention program for those aged 60 and older. The 12-week program teaches different tai-chi forms and warm-up exercises to increase strength, stability, improvement of balance and mobility. Those virtual classes are set to start in early July.
 
The Healthy Weight and Your Child Program is geared toward whole families understanding how the home environment and other factors influence choices that lead to a healthy weight. The 15-week program, which is slated to launch virtually June 15, covers healthy eating, regular moderate-high intensity physical- activity and behavior change.
 
Children and their caregivers receive a free YMCA membership while they are in the program.
 
Obesity affects 17% of all children and adolescents in the nation – triple the rate from a generation ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in six children are obese, and one in three are overweight, which poses greater risks for adverse health problems such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high triglycerides (cholesterol) and mental health issues.
 
“The YMCA of Southeastern North Carolina has a long history of advancing the health and well-being of children in our community,” Carroll said. “Healthy Weight and Your Child is a proven program to help kids improve their health and experience higher self-esteem.”
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