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March 31. 2013 10:37PM

Nashua dedicates the week to health

NASHUA - While many people realize obesity is dangerous to a person's health, there are other, less-visible medical problems that can wreak havoc on an individual's overall health.

Sedentary lifestyles, high stress levels and even a lack of water can cause emotional, psychological and physical problems that can be detrimental to living a healthy and fulfilling life, according to public health experts.

"People really do think it is difficult to live a healthy life, but I don't think it is as complicated as many people believe. You can make small changes that will make a huge impact," said Kerran Vigroux, director of the city's Department of Public Health and Community Services.

This week marks National Public Health Week, and Vigroux is joining numerous other health advocates to educate and motivate local families to live healthier lives through nutrition, exercise and stress management.

"There are little things that everyone can do that will add more opportunities to their overall health," said Vigroux. "Take the stairs, wash your hands more often, add more vegetables to your grocery cart or take a walk during lunch."

Vigroux encouraged busy working families to get outside and enjoy the nicer weather, visit one of Nashua's parks or trails, and above all else, try to get off the couch and become a little more active.

Monday is the start of National Public Health Week, and events have been planned throughout the city to educate and empower the community to take steps to lead healthier lives.

The Division of Public Health and Community Services has partnered with more than 20 community agencies and programs to promote healthy lifestyles during National Public Health Week, with the theme: "Public Health is Return on Investment: Save Lives, Save Money."

"The 2013 theme was developed to highlight the value of prevention and the importance of well-supported public health systems in preventing disease, saving lives and curbing health care spending," according to the American Public Health Association's website. "This year, we hope you'll join us in championing the work of public health and its significant return on investment."

In Nashua, a kickoff event has been planned for 3 p.m. Monday at the YMCA of Greater Nashua, complete with a passport to a health fair that includes free giveaways, raffle prizes, health food samples, a zumba class and more.

The public is encouraged to attend the free event, which will continue until 7 p.m.

Other workshops and activities have been planned throughout the week, including seminars about healthy homes, an energy savings workshop, relaxation workshops, stress management classes, child safety courses, an organic gardening seminar and more.

"Managing your stress is just as important as eating healthy," according to Vigroux, who encouraged anyone who needs to relieve the stress in their lives to attend one of two stress management courses.

A public screening of HBO's "The Weight of the Nation" will also take place at 4 p.m. Friday at Rivier University's Sylvia Trottier Hall, which Vigroux anticipates will draw a large crowd.

"This is a great series that talks about the challenges our communities face around combating obesity, and discusses what can be done to make communities more livable and walkable," she said. "It talks about the obesity epidemic from a community perspective, not just an individual problem associated with choices."

The following activities have been planned for this week:

--Button Up 101, an energy savings workshop for city employees at noon on Monday at Nashua City Hall.

--A Healthy Community Starts in the Home workshop at 7 p.m. Monday at the Nashua Adult Learning Center.

--Driving Toward Zero no texting campaign will take place throughout the day on Tuesday at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Nashua and the Police Athletic League.

--Wellbeing and Relaxation Skill for the Workplace course will take place at noon Wednesday at Nashua City Hall.
--Five Minute Stress Managers Class at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Holistic Self Care Center.

--Nashua Steps Into Health is the city's employee wellness program that kicks off at 11:30 on Wednesday with a walk on the Heritage Rail Trail. A second walk will begin at 3 p.m. at Ledge Street School.

--Child Car Seat Safety Checks and Bike Safety Program will take place at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Boys and Girls Club.

--Organic Container Gardening will begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Holistic Self Care Center.

--The city's public health outreach van will be at the Nashua Adult Learning Center at 10:30 a.m. on Friday.

--The Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter is having its 20th annual Run for Food and Shelter event on Sunday.

khoughton@newstote.com


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