By Bernie Petit
Published: Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 16:48 PM.
The sound of a beating heart fills Discover You!, CaroMont Health’s new interactive health and wellness center in Mount Holly.
But it’s not coming from underneath the floorboards.
Instead, it comes from the 10-foot, three-dimensional heart that is the focal point of the exhibit. If you go, place your hands on two bars in front of the tell-tale heart to fill the center with your heartbeat.
The human heart beats about 100,000 times a day and 35 million times in a year. Because of the heart’s role in pumping oxygen-rich blood throughout the body, it’s no surprise that an oversized representation of it is smack dab in the center of the 5,000-square-foot facility, which opened Jan. 19.
“Taking care of your heart is essential to good health,” said Andrea Serra, vice president of wellness development for CaroMont Health.
It’s one of the core lessons Serra said she hopes visitors get when they visit the center. From exercise and nutrition to smoking cessation and stress reduction, Discover You! features 17 exhibits designed to help visitors maintain or retain their health.
“We hope people will come in here, have fun learning about healthy behaviors and realize that they are the masters of their health,” Serra said. “They don’t have to wait until they get sick and then go to the hospital to be treated. They can prevent illnesses themselves.”
We all know what we should be doing to improve our health, like eating better and moving more, from all of the constant reminders we get from the media. But what Discover You! does, Serra said, is personalize all of those facts and figures we read and hear about through inspirational stations introducing us to local residents who have overcome health challenges and activities designed to encourage us to get moving.
There’s the Snack Grab area, where you can see how much weight you would gain if you ate different items, like pork rinds or a doughnut, once a day for a year in addition to your normal diet. You can lift the 48 pounds you’d gain from the pork rinds and the 21 pounds you’d get from the doughnuts to feel just how much additional weight your body would have to carry, too.
“You can feel the weight you’d carry if you added this to your diet every day,” Serra said. “We know obesity is a precursor to chronic disease.”
We also know a good night’s sleep can give us better starts to our days. But not getting enough rest can also throw your day off while wrecking havoc on your diet.
“We have found that people have greater success making decisions about food if they’re well rested,” Serra said. “If they’re not well rested, people tend to make decisions about food that are about comfort.”
The “Sweet Dreams” component of the center allows you to access your sleep environment. Do you have a street outside of your window? Do you sleep with someone who snores? Does the dog sleep in the bed with you? Is your cellphone on the nightstand next to you?
Each “yes” lowers your sleep score. The higher your sleep score, the more likely it is you’ll get a good sleep at night and make healthy decisions during the day.
“The perfect sleep score is 100, so you can play with it and see, ‘Oh, if I turn my TV off, then I get a better sleep score,’” Serra said.
If it sounds like a funzone for health, it is, CaroMont officials said. But many of the things you learn while having fun can easily translate to your life. Once you arrive, you can enter your name, height and weight into a computer to receive a ticket which can be scanned at many of the stations. The amount of calories you burn while riding on the interactive spin cycle will then be emailed to you.
If you’re inspired to change your diet while you’re there, you can just pick up one of the phones mounted on the walls of the center and dial through to a CaroMont dietician.
It’s all about encouraging healthy lifestyles in order to better manage healthcare costs, CaroMont officials said. We spend trillions on healthcare, Serra said, and when you look at those dollars, 75 percent is being spent treating chronic disease — 70 percent of which are preventable.
It’s why Discover You! is a much-needed resource for Gaston County residents to fight against medical conditions that, if we make better lifestyle choices, are avoidable, said Jerome Levine, chief medical officer for CaroMont Health.
“We’re trying to provide the tools for people to really get involved with their health and take ownership,” Levine said. “If we can prevent illness and hospitalizations, it would be much better for everyone because the current (healthcare) costs are not sustainable.”
WANT TO GO?
Discover You!, CaroMont Health’s new interactive health and wellness center, is at
420 E. Central Ave., Mount Holly. The center features 17 stations designed to encourage visitors to maintain or retain their health. The center is open 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $5 adults, $4 seniors 60 and older, $3 children ages 5-18, and free for children 4 years old and younger.
For more information, visit www.discover-you.org, call 704-827-6770, or “like” Discover YOU on Facebook.