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Making better choices for health

Emelda Harris and Sally Needles are taking charge of their wellness and seeing significant improvements

Author: Janice Branham/Monday, June 06, 2016/Categories: Health, National, St. Louis shared

Emelda HarrisEmelda Harris has an important long-term goal – to get in the best possible shape for her health and manage her diabetes. She knows from experience that there is no quick fix.

She’s making headway after participating in Better Choices, Better Health®-Diabetes, a six-week discussion-based workshop developed at Stanford University that offers adults with Type 2 diabetes strategies for common challenges.

“By setting weekly goals after reviewing good health habits in the class I have been really successful,” she says. “I am studying food labels and measuring my blood glucose more often. I’ve also increased my exercise and vegetable intake. I’ve lost eight pounds.”

Oasis offered the program to more than 800 adults in Indianapolis and St. Louis in partnership with the National Council on Aging, with financial support from Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Results of the study show improved A1c levels, a test that measures blood sugar over time, and reduced depression, which is more common among people with diabetes.  Study results were published in June in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Emelda learned a lot from the program leaders and her fellow participants, all of whom were there to either learn things for themselves or for people they know who have diabetes.

“It was nice to share little tricks and tips with one another. I feel like I’m going to be able to keep this going. I don’t feel like I’m being punished. These changes are good for me, period.”

Finding the best fit

When it comes to health and fitness, one size does not fit all. Adults can find any number of ways to be physically active through Oasis: dance classes, martial arts, yoga, Pilates, walking groups, aerobics and stretching classes, to name a few.

Oasis has an answer for people who are not quite sure where to start: Fit For Function. Made possible with funding from AARP® Medicare Supplement Plans, insured by UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company, the seminar and mini-assessment help participants determine which classes are best for them.

Sally Needles in Better Balance class“Fit For Function helps older adults identify which program is right for them, setting them up for success in reaching their goals,” says Sarah Lovegreen, Oasis national health director. “Reaching big goals by conquering smaller ones first is a great way to approach better health for people of all ages. By reaching smaller goals, we are empowered to stick with it, ultimately reaching our long term goals of better health.”

Finding the right class can make a significant difference. For Sally Needles (at right in the center), a Better Balance class at the Crown Center for Senior Living has boosted her confidence to keep moving like she should. She walks in the mall twice a week and is more steady on her feet.

“I can get in and out of a chair without using my hands,” she says. “The class provides constant movement for an hour and it makes me feel stronger.”

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