family in warrior poseExperience a mix of in-person and virtual wellness activities, both for your physical and mental health, at this year’s APHA Annual Meeting and Expo! The meeting’s Wellness Center will be hosting a variety of activities, such as guided workouts, group activities, health education sessions and much more, all listed now in the online program under the tab “Networking and Engagement.”

“People can come by and relax," said APHA Meeting Manager Angelica Walker, referring to the Wellness Center at the Red Rocks Lounge inside the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. "We have coloring books and fidgets. Volunteers are there to welcome meeting attendees, and it’s a great place to just chill out between sessions in Denver.”

If you’re attending APHA 2021 virtually, the Wellness Center has plenty of options for you, too.woman in plank position looking at laptop

“In the past, when Wellness Center sessions and activities were over, they were over,” Walker noted. “But when the Annual Meeting went all virtual last year, we pivoted to accommodate the new situation, and people loved it. Now, we’re doing it both in-person and virtually.”

This year, there’s even a Virtual 5K for members, nonmembers, exhibitors, partners, family and friends. The race began in late September and ends Oct. 27, but it’s not too late to sign up. Participants are in the running to win a complimentary registration to APHA 2022 in Boston!

Meeting attendees can catch wellness activities early in the morning, between sessions or whenever they feel like taking a physical and mental health break. Fifteen- to 30-minute live activities include movement meditation, Thai Chi, yoga and even adaptive ice skating. Wellness activities like Qi Gong, guided meditation, mindfulness and more are available now for on-demand viewing throughout APHA 2021.

“There’s no pressure," Walker said. "If people miss a live session, a lot of those are recorded, along with the on-demand content, so they can watch at their leisure. ...I can’t wait to check out Lazy Folks Yoga because you don’t need to know much or do too much. It’s yoga for everyone!”

Members of APHA’s Sections, including the Physical Activity and Disability Sections, plan each year’s wellness activities with a goal of making them engaging, purposeful and accessible to all.

“The Wellness Center highlights the important role of physical activity in public health,” said Physical Activity Section Chair Carissa Smock. “And the programming focus on boosting mental, along with physical, wellness is progress.” Smock said the two go hand-in-hand.

“The benefits of physical activity are so much more than just being in shape and managing weight,” said Smock, also an associate professor at Northcentral University. “It increases productivity by improving alertness and attention span after just one movement session."

In general, Smock said participating in good physical and mental health behaviors three or more times a week can also help form long-term habits that pay dividends in reduced all-cause mortality and morbidity, increased immune system response, stress reduction, maintained productivity and improved mood. She hopes APHA 2021 Wellness Center activities can help drive that message home.

Check out the online program for a listing of this year’s wellness offerings.

Top photo by Christopher Futchers, courtesy iStockphoto