Portion sizes, sodium content, nutritional value: The road to a healthy lifestyle might seem overwhelming.
But according to Rebecca Davis, health and nutrition educator with University of Maryland Extension in Washington County, it's all about baby steps.
Strong Women, Healthy Hearts, a program targeted at inactive women older than 40 with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 24, aims to reduce the risk of heart disease while encouraging healthy living habits.
"It's important anywhere, but particularly in the United States, obesity rates are rising, particularly among women and adults and we need to stop that," Davis said. "One way to do that is teaching healthy eating and exercise."
The 12-week course is a collaboration among Tufts University and state land-grant universities, including the University of Maryland Extension, Davis explained.
A mandatory first class will be from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 30, at the University of Maryland Extension in Washington County.
Classes will meet from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays starting July 5 Participation costs $50, which includes nutritional tools and materials.
Davis, who will teach the classes, said she was trained for the program by Tufts University last year.
"I'll be teaching very essential, basic skills," she said. "It will run the gamut of nutrition topics."
These topics include healthful snacking, proper portion sizes, nutrition, home cooking and more. Each class will focus on a different, specific aspect of healthy living.
Aside from instilling proper eating habits, each class will also focus on physical exercise, which Davis said would mostly include aerobic dance and walking.
"Because the focus is inactive women, we'll start slowly," she said.
Davis said the class should consist of about 20 women. Many of the activities are hands-on and she wants ample individual consultation time.
"The ultimate goal is to change behavior over time. If they learn small, new behaviors over 12 weeks and adapt them into their lifestyle, then we've made some progress," she said.
Although weight management is one of the program's focus, its main intent is to reduce the risk of heart disease. According to Davis, more women die from heart disease than any other chronic disease.
"This is to reduce heart disease for women, make sure that they are aware that they can make some of these changes to reduce heart disease," she said.
If you go...
What: Strong Women, Healthy Heart
When: 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 30
Where: University of Maryland Extension in Washington County, 7303 Sharpsburg Pike, south of Hagerstown.
Contact: Call Rebecca Davis at 301-590-2811 or firstname.lastname@example.org by June 30.