April 21, 2014

The upcoming annual UK Health & Wellness Conference will offer participants an abundance of knowledge and everyday practices to live more healthfully. Conference session topics range from debunking nutritional myths to exploring the benefits of “exergaming” (playing video games that promote physical activity).

With a theme of “Sea Change,” the aim of this year’s 21st annual conference, scheduled for Friday, May 16, is to help attendees implement positive lifestyle and habit transformations in multiple areas of their lives.

“Each conference is designed to incorporate different aspects of wellness: nutrition, fitness, self-care, community, spirituality and more. We want it to be holistic,” said conference organizer Vanessa Oliver, a registered dietitian with UK Health & Wellness.

Instead of relying on vendors with booths and tri-folds, the conference is broken down into a number of sessions, and there is an emphasis on food and physical activity. The keynote topic is “If You Can’t Beat It, Avoid It: Evidence-Based Strategies for Preventing Cognitive Decline,” presented by Erin Abner. Other sessions include “The Change Cycle: Dealing with Change in a Healthy Manner,” by Meredith Wells-Lepley; “If We Build It, Will You Ride?” a presentation on cycling as a means of transportation by Stuart Kearns; “Enriching Our Lives Through Healthy Relationships,” by Rhonda Henry; “Nutrition Fact vs. Fiction,” by Karen Bryla McNees; “Biological Clocks, Nutrition and Gastrointestinal Function: They Have You Coming and Going,” by Dr. Vincent Cassone; and “Gaming for Health and Well-Being: An Overview and Exploration into the Benefits of Exergaming,” by Anthony Limperos.

Each session is scheduled twice throughout the conference to ensure participants can attend each session they want. Oliver said there will also be scheduled physical activities as session options, such as a group walk and other activities for all levels of fitness.

All the presenters this year are from the UK community. Oliver says she likes discovering what the university’s researchers are studying when developing the curriculum for the conference.

“I love learning more about what people are doing at UK,” she said. “I think it’s fascinating to read and learn about all the different research that’s going on, and then hearing them translate it to a lay audience is great. There’s so much neat stuff going on here, and the cool thing about UK Health & Wellness is that we can incorporate it all into our programming – it should all be a part of our lives.”

The UK Health & Wellness Conference is open to all UK retirees and employees, as well as their spouses and sponsored dependents. The event takes place 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. May 16 at Embassy Suites Lexington (1801 Newtown Pike). There will be a light breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack provided, as well as door prizes. Pre-registration is required, and registration begins April 23. For more information or to register, visit www.uky.edu/hr/wellness/conference.

By Robbie Clark