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On track for a healthier community

Studies show that the more weight joints carry, the weaker they get.

"It's well known in the medical literature that there is a correlation between body weight, body size, obesity, body mass index and the onset of arthritic change," said Woodwinds orthopedic surgeon Jack Drogt. "A lot of patients who are obese do have arthritis."

Because of the growing number of obese patients who are at risk of heart attacks, diabetes and high blood pressure, the Ways to Wellness program at Woodwinds Hospital is offering a proactive approach.

After operating out of a small, 1,500 square-foot studio, the expanded center is now providing a more comfortable environment with a whopping 7,000 square feet of space.

Many of Ways to Wellness' 1,200 clients are referred by physicians who treat them for various illnesses.

"It really begins weeks before surgery and we're going to help after as well," said Brenda Navin, Ways to Wellness leader.

With three rooms and various purposes, each one is constructed depending on what the patient wants to do for the day -- private personal training or group fitness.

The center was built with overweight patients in mind. The Pilates equipment is large enough to accommodate heavier bodies and elevated enough for those with hip and knee problems.

Each Ways to Wellness participant goes through an extensive evaluation with metabolic testing and complete wellness assessment, Navin said.

"There are the athletes and there are the beginners. There are also those with health problems or chronic conditions," she added.

She explained that many of those with chronic diseases suddenly stop exercising, but with nutritional goals and overall wellness plans, they may be able to get back on track.

Drogt's 25-year experience in medicine and orthopedic care has seen a number of patients who don't take enough of a proactive approach and a healthier lifestyle.

"People become more uncomfortable, they have pain when they're active and as a result they become more sedentary," he said, adding that Ways to Wellness has taken medicine from the treatment standpoint to the preventative nature of medicine.

"And that's good medicine."

Licensed pharmacist and certified health and wellness coach Pam Shepley is part of the Ways to Wellness team who gets "real" with the patients.

"It's an effective and inspiring way to improve the well-being of the patient," she said. "It's nice for them because they get a plan with resources."

The individualized attention has attracted a number of patients who are confused about what to eat, how much to eat and some of the lifestyle choices they should be making, Navin said.

"Frequently, when they haven't addressed those issues, they suffer from conditions that require them to see somebody like me because their joints hurt or their joints are worn out and they need either medical orthopedic or surgical treatment," Drogt added.

For more information, contact Ways to Wellness at (651) 232-1926.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.