01/21/09 — Mount Olive College offers fitness program

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Mount Olive College offers fitness program

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 21, 2009 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Yvonne Hobbs was being treated by a doctor for problems with her knees, her weight and high blood pressure.

Then her physician suggested a fitness program at Mount Olive College.

Fitness by Design was introduced in the fall and targets low-income families from Wayne, Duplin and Sampson counties at high risk for obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Participants engage in three one-hour sessions a week at Pope Wellness Center, accompanied by a "fitness buddy."

The buddies, students in the college's recreation and leisure studies program, motivate and support clients through customized exercise routines.

Ms. Hobbs is a grateful recipient.

"It has been a godsend that I could not have afforded on my own," she said. "I like the fact that I am working toward getting off of some of my medications and making healthier choices. When you reach a certain age, your body changes and you need to reinvent yourself. This program is helping me do just that."

The program features three components -- exercise, nutrition and social involvement.

Omica Bowden of Mount Olive can attest to the benefits of her weekly workouts.

"I am not as stiff as I once was," she said. "And I don't sit in my rocking chair as much."

Levison Lofton, also of Mount Olive, said he has also lost a few inches and a couple of pounds on his regiment.

"The facilities here are great and I feel better already," he said.

Fitness buddy Rebeccah Heck, a junior exercise science major, also appreciates being involved in the effort.

"It is rewarding to watch my clients progress emotionally and physically," she said.

For the nutritional aspect, Marilyn Bateman, a licensed nutritional therapist, meets with clients bimonthly. During her sessions, she typically discusses healthy food choices or may take them on a grocery shopping outing or give a cooking demonstration.

The social component of the program will be added in the spring with the introduction of a fitness garden, managed by the Lois G. Britt Agribusiness Center at the college. Participants in the fitness program will be responsible for preparing, tending and harvesting the garden.

"I am looking forward to planting my own broccoli and spinach," said Sandra McCoy of Dudley.

In addition to seasonal fruits and vegetables, participants will also have an opportunity to plant and use herbs and spices to liven up their diets.

Each component of the program has been developed to support the overall improvement to the health and quality of life for area residents, said Dr. Chris Dyer, dean for the School of Arts and Sciences at Mount Olive, and creator of the fitness program.

"So far, about 50 participants are signed up or are already in the program," he said. "If we do this right, we could serve as a community wellness model for the whole country. With the support of both Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, we are optimistic this program will become a permanent part of our college culture as it builds on the well-regarded Mount Olive College tradition of community service."

For more information on Fitness by Design, contact Dr. Dyer at 658-2502.