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Faith and fitness

Posted November 20, 2013 in Community Featured, Winterset
St. Paul Lutheran tries to help its congregation lead healthy lives through teachings and activities.

St. Paul Lutheran tries to help its congregation lead healthy lives through teachings and activities.

It’s been quoted as the “most wonderful time of the year.” The Christmas tree will soon go up, local radio stations will play tunes of holiday cheer and kitchens will smell of sweet, mouth-watering baked goods.

It is these exact treats that can be the downfall of our winter spirit, adding on the pounds we worked all summer to melt away. However, many at St. Paul Lutheran Church are banding together to combat an unhealthy lifestyle with the help of the Health, Wellness and Healing Team.

Although one may think of health as having a fit external appearance, the team does not neglect the inner workings and functioning of the body. Every month Parish Nurse Tina Hoffman conducts blood pressure screenings and blood sugar tests in between Sunday services. The Wellness group has also held classes on health topics, including the Blue Zones.

“The Blue Zones is based on a study by National Geographic,” says team leader Lori Blythe. “They found several areas where people seem to live longer, healthier lives.” Medical researchers and anthropologists searched high and low for factors that were similar amongst the people in these geographical areas and came up with a list of nine “evidence-based common denominators,” which seemed to contribute to their longer life expectancy. A few items on the list were having a sense of purpose, belonging to a faith-based community, investing time into those you love and being a part of the “right tribe” that will support healthy decisions.

Aside from opportunities to learn, St. Paul’s Wellness Team also tries to implement healthy habits such as staying active and eating right. During past Lenten seasons, congregation members have tracked their total walked miles and recorded them on a map of the Holy Land to see their traveled distance. Also, healthy snacks are offered at the church service to give the congregation a “taste of wellness,” explains Blythe.

“Our goals are to make things available to our congregation so that they can make healthier choices,” she says. “We truly believe there is a connection between our physical wellness and our spiritual wellness.”

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