Mike Hanson, left, helps one of the participants in last year’s Community Meltdown with a body mass index test. This year, Seward County Extension is offering the Strong Women – Healthy Hearts program to women 40 and older. The class kicks off Jan. 20 with an informational meeting starting at 5:15 p.m. in the Ag Building. Courtesy photo
By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
It’s just less than a week into the new year, and a lot of people have made their resolutions for 2011.
A resolution many make is to cut a few pounds, and K-State Extension will be helping some lose weight this winter.
Seward County’s Extension normally offers its Community Meltdown starting in January, but Family and Consumer Sciences Agent Kathy Bloom said that program is on a break for this year.
Starting Jan. 20, the Strong Women – Healthy Hearts program is a fun, hands-on way to make positive changes to help individuals eat better, move more and improve general health and well being.
An informational meeting about the research study behind the program will take place from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. Jan. 20 in the north classroom in the Ag Building at the Seward County Fairgrounds.
Bloom said the class is filling up fast.
“I’ve had a lot of interest,” she said. “If people are interested, they need to get hold of us quickly.”
Bloom can be reached by calling 624-5604, by e-mail at
or at the Extension office at 1081 Stadium Road.
“They need to call me ahead of time and get their information,” she said. “No later than the 20th. It’ll be closed after the 20th.”
The cost is $45, but women will receive a partial refund at the program’s completion.
“It’s 12 weeks, so it’s a pretty big commitment,” Bloom said. “The pedometers are really nice. They’re $20, and then they get $25 back at the completion of the class.”
Scholarships are also available.
Strong Women – Healthy Hearts is a partnership between K-State Extension and Tufts University in Massachusetts to enroll women in the study, which is being funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study teaches participants about nutrition and exercise in an effort to improve their cardiovascular health.
“When people are given the opportunity to learn how to take control of their heath or manage it, they can delay or prevent the onset of heart disease,” Bloom said.
The program will meet for an an hour twice a week for 12 weeks. Each class will feature 30 minutes of aerobic activity, which will gradually increase in intensity, and 30 minutes of nutrition education, which will allow participants to prepare and try heart-healthy recipes.
Women will measure their weight, fruit and vegetable intake and physical activity level at the start and end of the program to assess their progress.
Participants must be at least 40 years old, live independently and have a sedentary lifestyle, but able to walk a quarter-mile and show that they can safely participate in the program.
They also must have a body mass index of 24 or higher. BMI is a measurement that incorporates height and weight.
Strong Women – Healthy Hearts is backed by research that shows the value of teaching people specific steps to take ownership of their health.
“Once you do something for 12 weeks, it becomes part of your lifestyle,” Bloom said.
Strong Women began as an exercise program with Seward County K-State Extension, and it is now independently run through the Liberal Senior Center. Renamed Strong Bodies, the class meets at 9 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday September through May.
The exercise program focuses on strength and balance training for middle age and older adults and has been going for more than five years with a strong core of participants.
The Extension program will help women learn how to improve cholesterol levels, blood pressure and weight. Exercise will be low to moderate intensity and may consist of walking and dancing.
“Make a commitment to grow stronger and trimmer, and feel better about yourself,” Bloom said.
Classes will meet from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. in the north classroom of the Ag Building on the following dates (this schedule is tentative):
o Feb. 1, 3, 8, 10, 15, 17, 22 and 24;
o March 1, 3, 8, 10, 15, 17, 22, 24, 29 and 31; and
o April 5, 7, 12, 14, 19 and 21.
To register or for more information about the overall research study, contact Bloom at 624-5604 or