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Published April 20, 2004
Volume 12, Number 4



Staying Healthy and Well in the Tri-Valley
 
Lifestyle Rx
Fitness buffs enjoy ValleyCare Health System's spacious LifeStyle Rx facilities.

There are many “driving forces” behind the actions and lives of most people. However, few would deny that health and wellness play a critical role in making goals meaningful. Beyond treating issues of illness, health and wellness programs today—whether persued individually or through corporate programs—offer a wide range of opportunities to assist in disease prevention and promote well-being. Programs and services found in Hacienda and the Tri-Valley offer a number of ways for you to take good care of yourself. Here, we’ll take a look at some trends in health and wellness programs as well as available resources that can help you keep feeling your best.

Trends in Health and Wellness
Many companies are taking notice that employee health and wellness has a direct affect on productivity and the cost of running a business. To address this issue, a number of corporate programs have evolved over time. These programs vary greatly in size, complexity, and coverage. Whether the reason is reducing workers comp liability or just the realization that healthier employees are more productive, companies are taking notice that health and wellness programs aren’t just a benefit, they make good business sense. Some companies have onsite consultants and some hire outside professionals to assess the environment and make recommendations on how to keep employees healthy and happy. Whether the programs involve ergonomics education or seminars on how to stay well, it’s a win-win approach for both the employer and the employee.

For example, PeopleSoft’s Health and Wellness Program includes an onsite club that provides acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic services, and aerobic programs. In addition, the club organizes and sponsors four sport leagues for flag football, basketball, volleyball, and soccer. Robert Half International offers a variety of benefits including a company-paid employee assistance program that provides hundreds of pages of health education material online. The company’s employee assistance program also provides childcare and elder care referral, a free child safety care kit for newborns, critical incident care assistance related to mental and emotional health issues, confidential counseling, and legal and financial referral. The company also offers a corporate discount to a local health club in Pleasanton.

“I think that the way the economy is right now, companies don’t feel that they have to provide extras like onsite massage to their workers,” says Sharon Hebert, an MSPT (Masters of Science and Physical Therapy), and CEES (Certified Ergonomic Evaluator Specialist), who is certified by the ACE (American Council on Exercise). “However, I do find that companies still do care very much about their employees. They also want to avoid increased costs from workers compensation claims, which is a very hot topic nowadays. I think that they really want to prevent health problems.”

Hebert says that she has historically seen companies offering things like gym memberships and encouraging their employees to stay in shape mentally and physically to meet the demands of longer hours and higher workloads. “Companies are trying to streamline their operations and ask a lot of their employees, but on the positive side, the companies are now looking for help in preventing injury and illness.” Hebert also notes that a company program is really only one part of the equation and that individual efforts are important as well.

Regardless of the type of health and wellness benefits offered by companies, Hebert says there are a number of ways anyone can improve their health and wellness on the job. “You really need to take care of yourself, because nobody is going to do it for you, no matter what programs your company offers,” she says. “Keep yourself healthy because you only get one body and if you want to keep working for a long time, you need to keep it going. You don’t have to have a fancy gym. You can start a walking program at work where a group of coworkers get together at lunch and take a walk. You can do the same in the case of an informal meeting. Take your meeting outside and move around so you get the benefits of increased circulation and exercise. Things like that cost a company nothing but can do a lot toward promoting health and even weight loss.”
Sharon Hebert   Axis
Top: Sharon Hebert of Workplace Wellness helps companies create healthy environments.
Bottom: Axis Community Health's friendly medical staff provides gracious care.


Community Health and Wellness Services
The Tri-Valley has a number of services and facilities available to promote, educate, and improve mental and physical health. Some are free, some are not, but all are intended to keep area people in top form or even recover from a disability. There are a number of health and wellness service providers within the boundaries of Hacienda (see section below) and many more within the Tri-Valley. Two resources, the ValleyCare Health System (with facilities in and adjacent to Hacienda) and Axis Community Health, each offer a wide variety of services.

LifeStyleRx, a new facility developed by ValleyCare Heath Systems at 1119 Stanley Blvd. in Livermore, is a medically based fitness center designed to meet the health and wellness needs of everyone from children to senior citizens. It offers programs that range from community events like body composition testing to cardiac rehabilitation; pulmonary rehabilitation; heart fitness classes; lifestyle support groups for weight loss, smoking cessation, and stress management; nutrition counseling; personal training; and massage. Onsite facilities include cardiovascular and strength training areas; an indoor multi-purpose gymnasium and walking track; a lap pool and family pool; group exercise studios, spinning studios, and a pilates studio; locker rooms with a sauna, steam room, and jacuzzi; a demonstration kitchen for gourmet and heart healthy cooking classes; child care; and a cafe.

LifeStyleRx opened its doors in 2002. It combines ValleyCare’s physical medicine and cardiac/pulmonary rehabilitation services with a fitness center that is available to everyone in the area. “Our goal is to provide a healthy Tri-Valley community one person at a time,” says Vicki McGrath, Director of LifeStyleRx and a Sports Fitness Director certified by the College of Sports Medicine. “We cater to individuals from infants to seniors and they can come in with specific limitations or health issues or be completely healthy. We make sure that the programs are designed to take into account any medical conditions.” Of the 6,000 people who take advantage of LifeStyleRx, the programs are focused on their needs whether they are healthy or not. “Everybody at some time or other has an issue like back pain that needs to be addressed and puts them in a compromised position. Everyone who comes in has something they have to work on, even if it’s weight management.”

LifeStyleRx also does monthly screenings that members of the community can take advantage of, ranging from blood pressure and cholesterol screenings to flu shots. Monthly dues range from $80 to $155 (for a single person and family respectively). Monthly dues for seniors 65 and older are $68 for a single person and $110 for a couple. A one-time enrollment fee is also required. Community scholarships are also available to help those who can’t afford the regular fees. For more information, contact LifeStyleRx at (925) 454-6342 or visit the center’s web site at www.lifestylerx.com.

Axis Community Health, based at 4361 Railroad Ave. in Pleasanton, with a total of four sites in Pleasanton, Dublin, and Livermore, is a nonprofit community agency that has been serving the residents of the Tri-Valley since 1972. The agency’s mission is to provide medical care, mental health services, and social support services for all members of the community, regardless of income, language, or any other factor. Axis provides medical care for more than 8,000 local residents. An additional 12,000 people participate in the agency’s drug and alcohol programs, mental health services, and community health education programs each year.

Axis’ services include medical care for children, seniors, and adults; obstetrics and gynecology; immunizations and tuberculosis testing; drug and alcohol recovery services for teens and adults; DUI classes; mental health counseling; a WIC nutrition program for infants, children and pregnant women; community health education; anger management programs for teens and adults; child abuse prevention programs; and health insurance enrollment assistance. Axis is supported by local and state funds as well as foundation grants, patient revenues, and community donations.

“Our fees are on a sliding scale based on income,” says Jenny Donovan, community outreach specialist for Axis Community Health Programs. “Our claim to fame are our medical sites in Pleasanton and Livermore where we offer general medical care, prenatal care, and family planning services. We also have a pediatric clinic where we do immunizations and exams. Immunizations for children and adults are normally done by appointment, but we also have drop in events on certain Saturdays that are free for people without insurance, though we ask for a donation if people can afford it. Some of the adult immunizations we can’t offer for free, so it’s a good idea to check with us before coming in.”

Axis has a staff of 75, including seven physicians who are board-certified in family practice, pediatrics, and internal medicine; a clinical psychologist; certified drug and alcohol counselors; registered nurses; and registered dieticians. Axis also has an intern program of post Master’s level mental health professionals. The staff is multi-lingual to provide services in a number of languages including Spanish, Farsi, and Hindi. The board of directors is comprised of community leaders from the Tri-Valley area who volunteer on behalf of the organization. For more information on programs and services provided by Axis Community Health call (925) 931-0712.

Hacienda Health and Wellness Services
Hacienda is home to many health and wellness providers from ValleyCare to Kaiser Permanente, to a multitude of doctors, dentists, opticians, psychiatrists, and just about any other type of health service provider you can imagine. In addition, Hacienda is home to two health clubs and a wide variety of recreational activities.

Hacienda Health Resources: Finding the appropriate professional or organization to suit your individual needs is an important part of maintaining your health and wellness. To locate a doctor, dentist or other provider, visit the Hacienda tenants directory at www.hacienda.org/tenants/tenants_directory.html. Here, you will find an alphabetical listing of all the businesses and health service providers within the park. A brief description of the business accompanies each tenant listing long with contact information.

Health Clubs: Within Hacienda, there are two health clubs that cater to getting and keeping you in shape. Additional facilities can also be found within and around the Tri-Valley area.

24-Hour Fitness, located at 5860 W. Las Positas Blvd., is a convenient place in Hacienda to lift weights, take fitness classes, and get qualified advice that can help you avoid injuring yourself while you get in shape. The facility has over 25 cardiovascular machines and 100 plus resistance training machines. Unlike many clubs that require you to sign up for six months or a year, 24 Hour Fitness memberships are month to month, allowing you to go to the gym without committing to a lengthy contract. Contact the 24-Hour Fitness in Hacienda at (925) 463-1515. For information on corporate wellness programs contact Ben Midgley, senior director of corporate sales at bmidgley@24hourfit.com.

Curves, located at 4555 Hopyard Road, is a fitness and weight loss facility dedicated to the needs of women. The Curves program is based on a 30-minute fitness and strength program using hydraulic resistance machines instead of weights along with weight loss guidance. Currently, over two million women have joined Curves fitness centers worldwide. For information on membership at the Curves in Hacienda call (925) 460-0404. For information about the Curves Corporate Accounts Program call (800) 848-1096 ext. 2253.

Hacienda Parks and Sports Facilities: Keeping in shape is an activity you can take into your own hands by taking advantage of a number of recreational areas within the park. Six primary outdoor features here are available for use by all tenants and residents within the development, whether you’re interested in taking a walk or shooting hoops after work:

A private greenbelt, or Linear Park, is available for Hacienda tenants and residents to use. The park is located adjacent to Owens Plaza Park and is best accessed through the Owens Plaza Park entrance at Rosewood Drive and Owens Drive. The park covers several acres and offers a basketball court, tennis court, picnic area, tot lot, and open lawn area.

Owens Plaza Park, which abuts the center portion of the Linear Park, spans over three acres. This park features picnic tables, benches and a tot lot and is accessible through a tree-lined entry off of Owens Drive.

Creekside Park is accessible from W. Las Positas Boulevard between Owens Drive and Stoneridge Drive as well as from the Linear Park via a footbridge over the Tassajara Creek. A large 6.6-acre open lawn space is the primary feature at this park. There are also courts for basketball and sand volleyball, and a play area with swings.

An 18-station outdoor parcourse has been installed for walkers or joggers. The course covers a 2.3-mile stretch within Hacienda. Maps of the parcourse route are available from the Hacienda web site at www.hacienda.org/pdf/parcourse.pdf.

Hart Middle School has a number of sporting facilities, including soccer fields, basketball courts, a full quarter mile track, and a gymnasium. Public use of the facilities are coordinated through Pleasanton’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Hacienda has several hiking trails available to tenants and residents, with more to come in the future. The Arroyo Mocho Trail currently runs from the Alamo Canal to the Chabot Canal. At Hopyard Road, the trail crosses over Arroyo Mocho to a path along Chabot Canal to West Las Positas Boulevard. The Arroyo Mocho Trail will eventually link North Pleasanton and south Dublin under the I-580 freeway. The Iron Horse Trail extends 25 miles from Solano Way in Concord to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART Station bisecting the communities of Concord, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, San Ramon, and Dublin. This popular trail provides direct links to three other regional trails, including the Contra Costa Canal Trail, the Briones to Mt. Diablo Trail, and the Las Trampas to Mt. Diablo Trail.

 

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