LIVERMORE FALLS — The providers at Western Maine Family Health Center are serious about running and the benefits it has on a person’s overall health. When the new health center was in the design stages, the providers made sure the plans included a shower in the staff area for use after lunchtime runs.

The health center has provided care to thousands of area families since 1987 and recently located to a brand new, state-of-the-art facility at 16 Depot St.

All three providers have run marathons before and Craig Lewis, M.D., has two ultra-marathons under his belt.

Family Nurse Practitioners Emma Ansara and CeCe Rohrbach are running partners and have run the Sugarloaf 15K together the last three years. All three providers, plus Behavioral Health Specialist Jessica Hopkins, LCSW, who is also a runner and believer that regular exercise is a cost-effective way to maintain optimal health, encourage their patients to work some sort of exercise into their health and wellness plans.

“We talk with patients about the benefits of daily exercise and running outdoors,” says Ansara. “It helps when they see us out running, practicing what we preach. And since we all live in the area we can recommend great places for them to get started. My patients who start and follow through with an exercise plan are less depressed, they look and feel better and often have better personal relationships.”

“Most people just want a pill,” says Dr. Lewis, “but these have mostly bad consequences. Statistically, runners live an average of 16 years longer than non-runners.”

He says that a typical American today has had an average of 20 courses of antibiotics by the time he or she turns 20. Ideally, he says, we should get to age 20 without any antibiotics.

“The wrongful use of antibiotics increases our chances of immune disease 10 times over 30 years,” he says.

Instead of relying on expensive medicine with possible side effects, Craig says that encouraging kids to be active from an early age not only has physical benefits, but benefits children mentally, as well.

“Our bodies release brain mediators when we are active,” says Dr. Lewis. “When kids are inactive the mediators aren’t released and they do poorly in school. Aerobic daily exercise is the only way to prevent the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.”

“Just be active in any way,” says Ansara, a prescription that a lot of Western Mainers can follow through on. 

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