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Health expo offers free screenings, advice, information
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Bobbett Holloway with the National Alliance on Mental Illness speaks with Arthur Smith on Wednesday during the 10th annual HealthSmart Expo at the Gainesville Civic Center. NAMI meets at the First Baptist Church of Gainesville to educate and support those with brain illnesses. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Most Fit Company award winners

Large (250 employees or more) — Hall County Schools

Medium (51 to 250) — Conditioned Air Systems

Small (up to 50) — Electronic Sales Company

Health screenings and information about nearly any kind of health-related topic could be found Wednesday at HealthSmart, the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s 10th annual health and wellness expo.

Visitors were lined up for the health screenings at 7:30 a.m., and a steady stream of visitors still were being screened at 11 a.m. The Longstreet Clinic provided screening for 253 people at the expo.

About 60 exhibitors provided information on a wide-ranging number of topics. Critical health questions, such as carotid artery conditions and artificial joints, drew steady streams of questioners. Skin conditions, hearing, vision and obesity drew scrutiny and questions.

Fitness centers, biking, hiking in national forests, health insurance and health-related products filled two rooms and a hallway at the Gainesville Civic Center.

Featured speaker Jeff Galloway urged participants to exercise and declared that regular workouts would change their brain — giving them more energy, better decision-making and a more positive attitude toward life.

He said the best exercise program help “you manager your exercise and keep you away from pain.”

Galloway said “the research is formidable” that regular exercise will “stimulate the growth of brain cells.”

Three companies were recognized as “most fit” in Hall County.

Electronic Sales Company was recognized in the small company division — 50 or fewer employees. The company is sponsoring a “biggest loser” contest for four months, and cash prizes totaling $2,000 from the company and employees will be awarded.

Conditioned Air Systems was named in the medium company division — 51 to 250 employees. It has a fitness facility and a trainer that comes multiple times per week. Employees who participate get free weekly massages. The company recently hosted its a health fair with free screenings for employees.

Hall County Schools took the large — 251 or more employees — category. A wellness challenge of 16 weeks attracted more than 900 staff members. The district hosts the Fit Families 5K, which drew 913 participants. The district has 22 schools recognized nationally for wellness.

Leaving the screenings, Cheryl Gray said she and her husband, Garry, “have a doctor and go to the doctor, but we thought it would be prudent at our age” to visit the screenings.

The Grays have lived in the area about a year since moving here from Dublin.

Charles Aycock, of Clermont, was getting screenings for the second year. He called it “just a great service to the community.”

Exhibitors ranged from brand-new — the district office of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests — to veterans of all 10 health expos — the Heart Center of Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

The heart center provided free carotid artery checks for plaque buildup, which can cause heart disease or stroke. Piedmont College students helped with the service — and got credit for clinical hours.

The medical practice has 11 locations in northeast Georgia.

Jerry Buschmann, with the National Forest Service, touted the exercise benefits of walking in the forests — and provided maps with suggested walks or hikes.

“It’s kind of a different aspect, a different look, at being healthy,” he said.

Galloway talked about exercise programs and training from very basic — jogging or running for five to 10 seconds and then walking the rest of a minute — to workouts for a marathon.

He encouraged participants to find a comfortable way to exercise — walking, combination of walking and running or running — that does not hurt and cautioned them to exercise in a way that does not cause pain.

“Exercise really keeps you sharp,” he said.

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