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On Sunday, I had the great opportunity to visit the 2008 NBC Health and Fitness Expo at the Convention Center in Washington, DC. This is my third year going (this is the 15th year of the event) to the expo and every time I go, I get blown away at the vendors and the sheer amount of attendees that show up.

According to the NBC 4 website, over 85,000 people showed up to take part in the variety of giveaways, health screenings, and even activities like salsa dancing! The expo was held on Saturday and Sunday but unfortunately I was only able to make the tail end of Sunday – as they say, better late than never right?

As soon as you enter the Washington Convention Center, there were clear signs leading you to the event. When you got to the top of the escalator platform, you got a clear view of what was happening – it was awesome.

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Despite having limited time, I did manage to get around to some great booths. The most interesting exhibit I came across was Mark Marten’s FitClub demo. Mark heads up Pantometrics, a company that develops exercise technology for fitness equipment. As I was walking past his booth, I couldn’t help but notice a young girl on a stationery bike looking at a screen that basically looked like a virtual Tour de France!

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How cool is that?!

I was very impressed and had to stop by and chat with Mark for a few, getting his insight into the product and what motivated him. I’m going to try to get an interview with him so stay tuned for that. This is exactly the kind of innovation that we need to be working on in order to merge together popular technology and the benefit of healthy living!

As the event began to wind down, I got the impression that thousands of people left the facility a little more enlightened about staying healthy and became aware of the different organizations in the area that are devoted to ensuring that it stays that way. Next year I hope to visit the expo on both days and cover more events.

There was an article I found on the NBC 4 website that highlighted a man who said that the event saved his life. Here is a snippet:

…A 61-year-old Maryland man said if not for free medical screenings he received at NBC4’s Health and Fitness Expo about eight years ago, he might have died.

Banjo player Frank Cassel said he knew his health was in jeopardy, but he hadn’t seen a doctor. He went to the Health and Fitness Expo, where medical experts performed a battery of tests for free.

“They found out that all my levels of sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides were all severely elevated,” Cassel said…Cassel was diagnosed with uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes. That diagnosis prompted him to make some major changes in his life, like eating healthier to control his diabetes and starting a regular exercise program. Now his blood sugar is under control and his cholesterol is down.

“If I hadn’t gone to the Health Expo and gotten tested, it’s very possible I would have died,” he said. Cassel was so thankful for the Expo that he wrote a song about it…

Amazing. One of the things I was taught while learning about Community Health in college (and that I still hold onto), is that even the smallest success in someone’s life is a huge victory. And as we all know the world is getting smaller, each victory has the potential to spread into larger victories through word of mouth. What if Mr. Cassel decided to sing the praises of the Expo to his family and friends (as you can see, he DID write a song about the event!)? What if they decided to check the Expo out next year or better yet, decided to make some changes in their own lifestyle to promote better health?

Kudos to you NBC and to the rest of you deciding to make small steps to better yourselves.

It’s never too late to start.

*see more pictures from the event here

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http://www.publichealththankyouday.org/

I wish I had known about this event much earlier! This is exactly the kind of resource we need to promote and get on the news in FRONT of the latest high blood pressure drug that will eventually cause you to get high cholesterol…

Prevention is better than cure folks – our parents told us this but oh how aptly it applies to health.

I’ll be all over Public Health Thank You Day next year!

Well after much ballyhoo and hard work, I am VERY proud to say that the University of Maryland at College Park, my alma mater, has opened their very own School of Public Health! You can read more about the School here. This is especially cool since I graduated from the former College of Health and Human Performance, 2 years ago. According to President Mote:

“The new School of Public Health will be built on the considerable strengths of its predecessor, the College of Health and Human Performance, with a core mission of translating public health research and learning into healthy public policy. “No other public research university in the region has an accredited school of public health whose mission is focused on research and the applications of knowledge that directly benefits citizens in that area.”

The faculty at the school were exceptionally encouraging and a necessary component to my interest in health education, promotion and the field of public health. I can’t wait to see what great things the School will accomplish in the coming years. This is perfect timing as the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the Society of Public Health Education (SOPHE) are having their annual meetings in Washington DC in November. I’m sure they’ll find a way to promote that.

The Dean of the School, Dr. Bob Gold, is one of the smartest people I’ve met in the public health arena. He’s pretty cool because he is definitely one of those people who want to merge health education and technology together. Hopefully I’ll get to catch up with him soon! Here’s a picture of us at the 2004 SOPHE conference in DC (click to enlarge).

Me and Dr. Gold @ 2004 SOPHE Conference in DC

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