When Melody Gimlin crossed the finish line at the 2019 Whiskey Row Half Marathon in Prescott, she had fulfilled a very specific personal goal. It had to do with her plan to incorporate wellness into her everyday life.

Gimlin had a baby in August and was experiencing the demands of parenthood and a full-time job.

“I was stressed all the time. It was overwhelming.” She decided to discuss the issue with her doctor. “He recommended taking time every day for myself – just to read a book, have coffee outside, have my husband watch the baby for a while – to work on my wellbeing. What I’ve learned is that everyone needs their own time to find their own little happiness. For me, it was running.” Voted as one of the best half marathons in Arizona, the Whiskey Row Marathon sought out by residents and tourists alike who are looking for outdoor things to do in Prescott, AZ.

Gimlin works as a Medical Assistant at the Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) PhysicianCare Internal Medicine office. She arrived at the decision to run the half marathon by chance. “I entered a raffle through the Human Resources Department at YRMC and won. The prize was free registration for the Whiskey Row Half Marathon. This was a sign that I needed to actually commit to it. So I started training right away.” This first step launched Gimlin’s wellness journey.

The terms ‘wellness’ and ‘wellbeing’ seem to be everywhere these days, from hotels to juice advertisements to yoga apps. But what is wellness? Why is it important? And most importantly, should we strive, like Gimlin, to be more conscious of wellness in our own lives?

Experts agree that wellness includes much more than physical fitness. In his presentation entitled The Wellbeing Imperative, Global Industry Analyst Josh Bersin lists six elements of a total wellbeing program. They are safety, physical health, mental fitness, financial fitness, community building and purpose/meaning.

It might seem daunting to decide how to begin, but studies show that simple steps reap big benefits. A June, 2019 study published in Scientific Reports shows that spending two hours in nature a week can improve health and well-being. The results were equal whether the subjects spent a continuous two hours or broke up the time over the course of the week. Better still, the results were consistent across groups of older adults and people who have long-term health issues.

Dana Blome, Cath Lab nurse at YRMC West, joined a group of coworkers and friends this year to walk the Whiskey Row 10K. “It was a social event for me, a nice break from the norm, some fun physical activity and a chance to contribute to my community, all rolled into one event,” she says. “It made me feel more connected to my hometown and was very fulfilling.”

“Working in cardiology, I see a lot of people who are sick,” says Landon Stribe, Physician Assistant at YRMC PhysicianCare Cardiology, “but it’s important to do what we can to prevent those conditions in the first place. A lot of my job is preventive medicine – teaching good habits, trying to lead by example. If my patients can see me being healthy, it has a much better foothold.”

Stribe’s go-to stress reliever is mountain biking. He completed the Whiskey Off-Road Mountain Bike 30K in May, 2019.

“It felt great to cross that finish line,” says Stribe. “It’s a tough race and I was very tired. You could tell by the look on everyone’s face that we all felt like we accomplished something big. And it was fun seeing YRMC staff coming together at the bike race to support this big community event. It really shows the strength of YRMC’s driving force in bettering our community.”

In keeping with national trends, YRMC is on the leading edge of promoting wellness in the Quad Cities. Today’s focus in healthcare is shifting toward keeping people healthy through prevention and education. This enables people to take charge of managing their own health as much as possible, and ultimately avoiding emergency care.

Wellness initiatives are offered to YRMC staff and employees as well. Financial fitness, community building and volunteer opportunities are always available. In addition, a wellness app helps employees track their activities, join contests and earn rewards for their efforts.

“The YRMC MyHealth app from Virgin Pulse is a great way to bond with our coworkers, be active and relieve a bit of stress in the workplace,” says Brian DeVries, HR Manager, Employee Benefits and Wellness at YRMC. “Many of our staff and employees use it both at work and at home. So many folks report that the app enhances their work experience and helps them feel happier and healthier.”

“Through the YRMC My Health app you can participate in challenges, share tips and recipes and get encouragement from your colleagues,” says Gimlin. “It’s definitely made me more aware of my health habits, and if you’re not in it alone, you’re more apt to stick with it.”

Gimlin’s reflects on where her wellness journey may take her. “I try to think about the future – what I want to be like, what my level of health will be. I want to teach my kids and grandkids how to take care of themselves so that we can enjoy each other with the time we have.”

This may seem like a lofty goal, but Gimlin is living proof that it starts with small steps, like completing the Whiskey Row Half Marathon. “I felt so proud of myself,” she says. “Even if I ended up in last place, I didn’t care. I just wanted to say that I did it.”