Program helps people get healthy

ROCHESTER — A partnership between Excellus Blue Cross/Blue Shield and St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center has helped more than 100 people get healthier by losing weight through exercise and by developing better eating habits.

According to a press release from Excellus, the Health Empowerment Program began at the center in 2010 with a four-year, $90,000 grant from Excellus. The program aimed to help improve the health of lower-income residents struggling with pre-diabetes or weight issues.

Participants receive pedometers to encourage walking. They also learn about portion control and are offered group support sessions.

"The seven-week program is not a magic bullet, and it’s not meant to be," said the center’s executive director, Sister of St. Joseph Christine Wagner. "But we’ve been encouraged by preliminary follow-up data that shows overall improvements in cholesterol levels and time spent exercising and declines in depression and anxiety. A number of participants have also maintained their weight loss one year after the program ended."

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