Participate in the University at Buffalo Step Challenge next month and it might extend your life.
The challenge – free and open to all – is among activities set to launch next week as part of National Public Health Week, designed to highlight the role that health policy and planning can make on the well-being of people and their surroundings.
“It’s a great time to be in public health,” said Jean Wactawski-Wende, dean of the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions.
Nearly 100 undergraduates are enrolled in the public health curriculum and those in many other majors also take the courses, Wactawski-Wende said. The school will soon launch a new online graduate certificate program in public health, she said, “and we also look to do more and more to keep our community informed and healthy.”
She called the school’s third annual Step Challenge the “signature event” among several that will take place at UB in the coming days.
The challenge runs from Sunday through April 30. Whole Foods has helped sponsor this year’s event, which has made it possible to provide pedometers for participants who need one, and to better track steps from participants and teams that can log in and share their counts online by syncing in a smartphone of fitness tracker. Prizes will be awarded for participation and results, including yoga mats and iPads.
Register by Saturday at sphhp.buffalo.edu.
A recent UB-led study underlines the health benefits of those who choose to step up their walking in coming weeks.
Michael LaMonte, a school research associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health, was lead author last fall of a study of more than 6,000 post-menopausal women aged 63 to 99. The study showed that 30 minutes of light to moderate daily activity can lower mortality risk by 12 percent; moderate to vigorous exercise by 39 percent.
Other studies also have showed that exercise can boost longevity along the age scale – particularly important in a region that often fares poorly in national health rankings.
“We know that physical activity can lower heart disease. It can lower cancer risk. It’s associated with lower (early) mortality,” Wactawski-Wende said. “For many people just being able to walk can have a positive effect on your health.”
UB also will offer three other free events open to the public next week:
– The School of Public Health has teamed up with the Erie County Department of Health to provide Narcan training from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in the School of Pharmacy, 190 Kapoor Hall, 3435 Main St., South Campus. “We expect a full house so we’re asking for RSVPs” on the school's webpage, Wactawski-Wende said. “Depending on the success of this training, we likely will do another in the future to help people become more aware of the opiate crisis but also to be trained on the use of Narcan,” which often can help revive someone who has overdosed.
– R. Lorraine Collins, associate dean for research in the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions, and a leading expert on marijuana and alcohol use, will give a talk entitled “The Health Effects of Cannabis” at noon Thursday in Room 180 at Farber Hall on South Campus.
– A showing of “Bending the Arc,” on the global health movement, at 3 p.m. April 6 in Screening Room 112 of the Center for the Arts on North Campus.
UB staff and student activities also will include yoga classes and a 9 a.m. stair climb Thursdays through April up the 11-story Kimball Tower on South Campus.
The events are designed to raise awareness about the School of Public Health and the role everyone can play in boosting health at home and in the region.
“Here in our school,” Wactawski-Wende said, “we live this every day and think about it every day.”
FREE PUBLIC HEALTH CONFERENCE FOR STUDENTS
Daemen College will host a professional development conference during National Public Health Week about poverty, educational inequality, limited access to healthy food and other factors that impact health.
“Beyond Biology: Social Determinants in Health Promotion,” will take place from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. next Saturday in the school’s Wick Campus Center Social Room, 4380 Main St., Amherst. It is free and open to high school and college students interested in community-level health promotion, career exploration, or networking with public health leaders.
The morning schedule will include a panel discussion at 9:30 a.m. with representatives from Community Access Services, the Community Health Worker Network of Buffalo, the Population Health Collaborative of Western New York, the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo, and the Western New York Peace Center. Conference sessions at 11 a.m. will cover topics that include community health education and outreach, health policies, and social justice.
Dr. Raul Vazquez, founder and primary care physician at Urban Family Practice, will give the keynote address at 1 p.m.
The conference, which includes lunch, is co-sponsored by the Daemen Office for Academic Affairs and the Health Promotion and Public Health departments, the Wellness Institute, and the D’Youville College Center for Research on Physical Activity, Sport and Health. For student registration, visit tinyurl.com/beyondbiologyregistration. For more info, visit daemen.edu/beyondbiology or call 839-8556.
Twitter: @BNrefresh, @ScottBScanlon