Facility improves communal wellness

In looking around Pine Bluff, it’s readily apparent that things are improving. One of the more notable late winter flowers that just bloomed is adjacent to Jefferson Regional Medical Center. As was reported by the Commercial, JRMC recently opened its fully renovated Pine Bluff Wellness Center.

It is one of those niceties that says we are a community that cares about itself — because we take care of ourselves.

JRMC marketing director Rebecca Pittillo described the completion of the project as a new level of health and wellness access for the people of Pine Bluff.

“We are really focused on keeping this community healthy and giving them a facility to do that,” Patillo said.

Among the more obvious improvements, Pittillo noted, is the completion of new locker rooms, better parking access and a new patio area. All in all, the project, which has been in the works for 2 1/2 years, was an investment by JRMC of $1.5 million, Pittillo said. In any environment, that is a laudable project total. In the current economy, it’s staggering.

Program coordinator, Brandy Baugh, highlighted the variety and profusion of the Wellness Center’s classes: “No matter what special needs you may have, we’ve got something for you. We have a small staff and we like to say that we give our members the ‘Cheers’ treatment because just like on the television show, we’re somewhere where everybody knows your name.”

Classes of varying demands on physical fitness are sprinkled across the day from early morning when most of us are still snoozing until well after the work day ends, with a few extras thrown in on Saturdays for good measure. If classes aren’t your thing, you can craft your own physical fitness routine with an array of free weights, weight machines and cardio devices. Really, if you walk out of the fitness center untested in some form or fashion, it’s your own fault.

And, as we know, to push yourself is to be healthy. A litany of studies confirms that regular moderate exercise — even if you’re overweight and the exercise doesn’t lead to weight loss — can extend your life markedly.

Researchers in a study recently published by PLOS Medicine performed a meta-analysis of studies from Sweden and the U.S. They examined self-reported data on physical activities and body mass indexes (BMIs, a ratio of weight to height) from 650,000 people aged 40 and older.

Summarizing the findings, Steven Moore of the U.S. National Cancer Institute states: “This result may help convince currently inactive people that a modest physical activity program may have health benefits, even if it does not result in weight loss.”

The researchers used the studies to calculate the boost to life expectancy linked to specific levels of physical activity. They found that brisk walking for up to 75 minutes per week was associated with a gain of 1.8 years in life expectancy.

As Moore further elaborates: “Being active … having a physical activity level at or above the World Health Organization-recommended minimum of 150 minutes of brisk walking per week … was associated with an overall gain of life expectancy of 3.4 to 4.5 years.”

The researchers observe that less physical activity was linked with a shorter life expectancy no matter a person’s BMI.

With findings such as these, there’s really no reason to remain sedentary; and the staff at JRMC’s Wellness Center is more than happy to help you with first steps toward a longer, healthier life. Make that a longer, healthier lifestyle.

The Wellness Center offers memberships of $46 per month for individuals; $61 per month for couples; $71 per month for families and $33 per month for JRMC employees.

A one-time joining fee of $25 per person for children 17 and under and $50 for those 18 and over will be waived through the end of February.

The Pine Bluff Wellness Center is located adjacent to the hospital at 1301 W. 40th Ave. The phone number is 870-541-7890.