Rio Grande Wellness Center on track

Courtesy photo Construction of the Rio Grande Hospital Wellness Center is beginning to reveal shape and scale with design elements that are non-institutional.

DEL NORTE — Currently under construction, the Wellness Center project at Rio Grande Hospital is a venture in moving from illness to wellness.

Arlene Harms, CEO of Rio Grande Hospital and Clinics, compares the new Rio Grande Wellness Center to common denominators of the world's five "Blue Zones." Blue Zones are areas in the world where people have been able to reduce disease and live longer.

As an investment in prevention and well-being for the citizens of the Valley, the Wellness Center promotes four principles: nutrition, moving naturally, connecting, and mindfulness.

Nutrition means eating for wellness, eating real food, eating in moderation, and incorporating more plants into your diet.

The Blue Zones prove eating wisely helps us feel better and may help us live a longer life.  The Wellness Center's Teaching Kitchen will coach people with dietary needs on how to select and prepare meals utilizing nutrient-dense foods, which are available locally.  Learn what ingredients are best and how to create a lifestyle of healthy eating.

Encouraging teams of people with common needs to provide support to one another can help with people's success in attaining health goals. 

With a focus on good ingredients, the Teaching Kitchen will use fresh herbs grown from the Living Herb Wall in the Center's Garden Meeting Room or food grown in the geodesic dome greenhouse.

Nutrition classes will be offered, and participants can learn how a plant-slant diet leads to a healthier life. Benefits include boosting immunity, strengthening bones, and helping the digestive system function.

People living in the Blue Zones stay active; they daily partake in low-intensity activities like gardening, cooking, housework, yard work, kneading their own bread, walking, dancing, and socializing.

Moving matters. The concept of keeping active and moving naturally throughout each day is crucial to longevity. Exercise reduces stress, boosts your energy and mood, enhances memory and ability to focus, improves sleep quality, and helps with weight loss and maintenance.

The Wellness Center's Fitness Center and Studio will facilitate physical activity.  Take a new movement therapy class or release endorphins by testing out a variety of equipment. 

The center will offer classes such as Tai Chi or get your hands in the dirt and work in the greenhouse gardens to be located in the Geodesic Dome nearby. 

Exiting the Fitness Center door, you can connect to eight miles of natural single-track walking trails in Del Norte's Lookout Mountain Park. Research has shown there is a correlation between happiness and time outdoors spent in nature and around nature. 

Another Blue Zone concept is mindfulness.  Simple practices such as focusing on moment or gaining more self-awareness and self-regard are all part of developing a healthy outlook.

The Wellness Center provides Quiet Rooms for folks to downshift, focus on their breathing, relax, reflect, and perhaps meditate. 

The Center will provide information on community events and opportune ways people can gain satisfaction and pride by giving back to their community, improving the quality of life of others in the Valley may additionally improve your well-being.

Connecting with others is another Blue Zone concept.  According to specialists, if you have strong family and social connections, you are more likely to have stronger immune systems and live longer. The Wellness Center's Community Lounge will be a great location to meet with friends. Face-to-face time with other people helps with a sense of belonging.  Surrounding yourself with a circle of friends who share your commitment to a healthy lifestyle plays a role in happiness and managing stress in your daily life. 

Other benefits include lowering the risk of depression, anxiety, and heart disease.

Among the goals of the Wellness Center are social and economic health through programs, activities and classes.  It encourages engaging with others in your own social circle while making new inter-generational connections.  

If we want to feel better, sometimes we must rethink our lifestyles.  At the Rio Grande Wellness Center, the public can learn behaviors that are critical to our future wellness, take them home and practice them every day.

This is the third in a six-part series of articles about the Rio Grande Wellness Center.