Environmental Factor, June 2007, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
NIEHS Health and Fitness Week Promotes Healthy Lifestyles
By Eddy Ball
In a series of events held May 15 - 18, the NIEHS Health and Fitness Week used education, humor and athletics to promote healthier lifestyles for employees and contractors. The events were sponsored by the Office of Management Health and Fitness Organizing Committee and several other NIEHS employee interest groups. Events included three health seminars and no fewer than 17 recreational and lifestyle events.
Educational offerings for the week began on May 14 with a seminar on "Stress Reaction: Increase Your Control" by Rob Quinn, who works NIEHS employees participating in the Employee Assistance Program. During a talk hosted by Occupational Health Nurse Lindia Engram, Quinn discussed the signs of stress and offered several physical response and cognitive strategies for defusing stress before it leads to serious health, safety or relationship problems.
Rodbell Auditorium was the site of the week's Health Fair on May 15 as representatives of area healthcare practitioners, medical equipment suppliers and health awareness groups set up tables with helpful information for NIEHS employees and contractors. Demonstrations included chiropractic and energy kinesiology, spinal health and glucose testing.
The relationship between humor and health was at center stage during a lunchtime presentation on May 16 by Gastroenterologist Henry R. Lesesne, M.D., a professor in the UNC Medical School. Lesesne has developed research interests in the spiritual aspects of health and healing and is one of the Medical School's most popular speakers. Like the legendary Patch Adams, Lesesne has discovered that laughter can actually trigger psychological and physiological processes that promote health and help prevent disease.
In conjunction with the Institute's Women's History Month Subcommittee, Health and Fitness Week organizers sponsored a lunch time presentation on May 17 by Duke Cardiologist Radha Kacchy, M.D. Kacchy addressed the gender-specific aspects of cardiac disease, as well as warning signs women should keep in mind as they age. Her talk focused on the problems women face post-menopause, including development of Metabolic Syndrome.
Health and Fitness Week also featured a host of events during which participants could test their physical prowess. These competitions ranged from a basketball shootout, football throw contest and golf outing to table tennis and electric slide contest.
The most popular competitive event, however, was the annual "Rogathan" 5K Run and 2 Mile Nature Walk," with laurels going to Liam O'Fallon as overall winner, Rebecca Boyles as First Place Female and Stella Sieber as Trike Winner. Mike Resnick deserved special mention for winning in the age 60 and over group with a time of 26 minutes, 30 seconds - better than 14 of the nearly 35 competitors, some of them as much as half his age.
The week drew to a close with the Bike-to-Work Day Event on the morning of May 18. Organizer Dick Sloane was on hand with his recumbent bicycle to welcome the handful of bike commuters who came to work on one of this spring's most delightful days.