Cullowhee, NC – Dr. Randall Provost of Sylva Medical Center, who supervises Western Carolina University athletic training students as they complete clinical education requirements, recently participated in the â€œMountain Jug Run for Research,â€ a 175-mile relay from Cullowhee to Boone to raise money for athletic training research and scholarships. WestCare sponsored Dr. Provost in the run on behalf of Carolina West Sports Medicine, which provides physician coverage and athletic training for WCU athletics and the local high schools.
Named after the well-known football rivalry between WCU and Appalachian State University, the relay takes place primarily along the Blue Ridge Parkway, with runners completing five-mile stretches five different times along the course. The annual event has brought in over $17,000 over the last six years, dollars which go directly to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s Research and Education Foundation which awards research grants and academic scholarships to the fields of athletic training and sports medicine.
Dr. Provost, who practices internal medicine in the primary care setting, participated in the run for several different reasons. â€œI believe that â€˜Exercise is Medicine,â€™ a belief long held by the American College of Sports Medicine. Because of the substantial health benefits of exercise, anyone can benefit from an increase in physical activity that is appropriate for their age and circumstances,â€ he said. â€œI also believe WCU’s athletic training program produces positive community input as local high school athletes benefit from the expertise of the graduates, including my own kids. I’ve been impressed by how well-educated these students are.â€
Medical research shows a trend indicating that physical inactivity and obesity in our culture could result in a shorter lifespan, with much of the weight gain and lack of physical activity due to the sedentary nature of many modern jobs.
â€œSome studies show that inactivity and obesity-related illnesses account for around $200 billion of annual medical costs in our nation,â€ said Dr. Provost. â€œIt is my belief that this amount can be reduced by promoting lifestyle changes in the healthcare setting. The Jug Runâ€™s unique concept of promoting fitness in students while doing a service activity is inspiring in the larger sense of the public health impact of poor fitness.â€
As an organization that cares about the issues surrounding wellness both financially and in practice, WestCare maintains a comprehensive internal wellness program that includes many incentives for employees to stay healthy, such as discounts on insurance costs for wellness program participation.
â€œAs an organization, one of our goals is to promote health and wellness in the lives of our employees,â€ said WestCare Wellness Coordinator Melanie Batchelor, RD, LDN. â€œWe strive daily to implement helpful strategies and support for employees to engage in healthy eating habits, fitness activities, smoking cessation, and more.â€
Always looking for insight into the broader issue of shifting our culture toward a healthier level of physical activity, Dr. Provost encourages patients to utilize local resources such as fitness centers, walking trails, and support programs to gain a greater level of physical fitness.
â€œNot only do depression and anxiety respond to exercise, but it is protective against dementia, promotes healthier cholesterol levels, and the risk of diabetes is lessened in patients who are fit, plus countless other benefits,â€ he said. â€œIf you’re a parent, you can make a positive impact on your children by your example of fitness.â€
18 people participated in the Jug Run, including James Scifers who is the originator of the relay and a professor of athletic training at WCU, which began in early morning hours in Cullowhee on Friday, October 11. The group finished the 175-mile trek in Boone the morning of Saturday, October 12, running overnight and achieving a record time of 27 hours and 25 minutes.