Companies partner for better heart health

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Savanna Gregg/Burnet Bulletin
YMCA staff members lead a zumba class at the beginning of the Hearty Habits class held at the recreation center every Tuesday. Hearty Habits is a partnership between Ascension Seton, YMCA and H-E-B designed to teach individuals the importance of maintaining habits to lead a healthy lifestyle. After exercise, while enjoying snacks provided by H-E-B, the group participates in a discussion with Ascension Seton professionals about heart-healthy snacks and recipes they can implement into their day to continuously improve their health.







By Savanna Gregg

Staff Writer

Burnet Bulletin

There are many components to one's health, and Ascension Seton, the YMCA of the Highland Lakes, and H-E-B have partnered up to teach the community about them, and encourage individuals to learn and maintain healthy habits to create a better lifestyle.

The new Hearty Habits class, held every Tuesday at the YMCA of the Highland Lakes, is a weekly course for individuals desiring to overcome or prevent heart and lung disease.

The class consists of a variety of exercises taught by YMCA staff, followed by a heart-healthy snack provided by H-E-B, which is enjoyed while Ascension Seton professionals discuss foods and recipes proven to improve individuals' health.

Though the program is designed for anyone who would like to learn more about eating healthy and exercising, Ascension Seton's Physical Therapy Manager, Stephen Peres, PT, DPT, created the Hearty Habits class to help patients seeking continuum care after a heart attack or other health issue.

“A patient could have heart attack, become medically stable, and then go home, then when they can leave the house they go to rehab, but there is nowhere for them to go after that,” Peres said. “The advice they are given is to go to the gym, get a membership, and show up.

“A lot of the feedback to that is the patients don't know or trust the people at the gym, so they don't feel comfortable going,” Peres added. “This class is trying to bridge that gap.”

Peres says the partnership between hospital professionals and community members at the YMCA is beneficial to those seeking help.

“If you have a program that integrates the local health care team with the community, they think 'these are people I know',” Peres said. “Add that to the continuum care, and we can start getting them back to wellness.”

Peres says Ascension Seton and YMCA staff work to emphasize two main values in their program.

“Acceptance and self-acceptance are important,” Peres said. “We emphasize that we are not perfect, and other people aren't perfect. The other value is 'progress, not perfection.'”

Peres and his crew rely on the program being a community effort to assist participants in reaching goals.

“The focus is to create a sense of community that learns its habits together,” Peres said. “We want to keep them involved. When you join a community of people who are trying to be healthy, you start to develop habits together.”

Peres said maintaining healthy habits is a behavioral and social issue, and small changes will lead to better overall health.

“Each little habit you make is going to make a huge change,” Peres added. “If someone can just make one change, they are going to make a huge change in their life. If they can change their blood sugars, that is huge; if they can exercise regularly, that is huge.”

After participants' vitals are checked to ensure they are able to take part in the program, YMCA Program Director and personal trainer Erica Melton and other staff members lead a guided exercise for the first 30 minutes of the class. The group will take part in zumba, pilates, chair yoga, or quigong, a program focused on flexibility and breathing.

“We have a lot of excellent instructors who are excited about this program,” Melton said. “We do low-impact exercises and teach participants small habits to implement exercises during their day, such as a habitual warm-up they can do before they take their shower every day.

“Some people may be uncomfortable, but we want them to know that we all have the same goal, and we all want to heal and get stronger together,” Melton added.

Reaching goals together is beneficial to those who may have been uncomfortable starting out in the gym scene, but staff ensure the program benefits all participants.

“We want to help them learn how to take better care of themselves without supervision,” said Ascension Seton physical therapist Britny Tomlin, PT, DPT. “The exercises are modified for their health, and we don't want to limit anyone because they are unable.

“The program is designed for people 50 to 80 years old, but it is beneficial to everybody,” Tomlin added. “Though it is about recovery for most, it is also about prevention and learning how to live a healthy lifestyle.”

Many individuals know the importance of maintaining healthy habits, but some need a little extra help finding their path towards a healthy lifestyle, and the Hearty Habits class is designed for those individuals.

“People are different, and some are lone wolfs, but a lot of people need a little guidance, someone to keep them accountable, a group, and a teacher,” Peres said. “Having a structure for them helps them maintain; that is what we want so they can prevent and reverse their diseases.”

The Hearty Habits class takes place from noon to 1:20 p.m. every Tuesday at the YMCA of the Highland Lakes, 1601 South Water Street, Burnet. The monthly class is $20 for members, $30, for non-members, and $10 for a one-time drop-in fee. Financial assistance is available.

For more information, or to apply for financial assistance or register for the program, visit the YMCA of the Highland Lakes front desk or call them at 512-756-6180.

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