Two Key Behaviors for Improved Health

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Women sit around a table.

Seventeen senior adults at the Troy-Montgomery Senior Center are working on ways to improve their health through implementing just two key health behaviors – eating at least 3 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables per day and being active for at least thirty minutes most days of the week. Experts from the fields of medicine, nutrition and public health agree that eating more fruits and vegetables and participating in regular physical activity will benefit almost everyone. If older adults eat at least 3 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables daily as part of an overall healthy diet, they may:  get some of the vitamins, minerals and fiber the body needs to maintain good health; maintain energy levels; maintain regularity; prevent or delay the effects of chronic disease such as obesity, hypertension, and heart disease; and add color, taste, and variety to the diet.

When older adults participate in at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days, they may:  prevent or delay the effects of chronic disease; feel better; decrease stress, anxiety and depression; help control weight; build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints; improve strength; increase balance and reduce the risk of falling; and improve sleep.

Elizabeth Thompson Callicutt (Nutrition Educator) and Rhonda Peters (Family and Consumer Science Agent) with North Carolina Cooperative Extension implemented the Eat Smart, Live Strong program in collaboration with the nutrition site at the Senior Center beginning in July of this year. All participants reported improvements in their consumption of fruits and veggies and in being more active. “We have to remember that change is hard for everybody. Some people may believe it is too late to do any good when we enter senior adulthood, but that is not true. Every small change can add up to a big improvement,” says Callicutt. “Successes can be big or small. For example, we had one lady who mentioned that she was proud of herself because when she went to the grocery store, she made the choice to walk around the whole store instead of relying on a scooter with a buggy to help her. This may not sound like much to some people – but these things add up to improved quality of life” adds Peters. These two educators have also implemented this program with adults in the Peabody community, the Brutonville community, as well as in the Dover area. The program is just four weeks, and a nutritious recipe is sampled at every session. The sessions include education, games, interactive discussion, simple exercises, lots of fun and laughs. There is no fee for participation. If you are interested in scheduling a program in your community, please contact Elizabeth Callicutt at (910) 576-6011 or emailing her at