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Myriad Gardens’ new health and wellness initiative offers myriad reasons to get outside and eat well

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The Oklahoman building main entrance, Thursday, August 20, 2015. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman - DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN
  • Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman
  • The Oklahoman building main entrance, Thursday, August 20, 2015. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman

This summer, Myriad Botanical Gardens implements Myriad Life, a new program promoting wellness and health in the Oklahoma City community. Myriad Life consists of three components: food, fitness and frame of mind.

Ann Fleener, Myriad Botanical Gardens director of education, said the new program arose from a grant offered by Oklahoma City Community Foundation (OCCF). The gardens received $30,000 to turn Myriad Life into a reality.

“We’re pretty excited to see what they’re going to do,” Sally Ray, OCCF community programs officer, said about the partnership. “We know they’ve already been really great stewards of a wonderful asset in Oklahoma City.”

Ray said OCCF’s Wellness Initiative includes a program called OK 5210, which encourages Oklahomans to consume five fruits or vegetables daily, limit recreational screen time to two or fewer hours, engage in one hour of physical fitness and consume no sugary drinks.

“[Myriad Life] directly aligns with the initiative because it’s focusing on those numbers,” Ray said.

The initiative launched July 9 and runs 12 weeks.

Myriad Life participants will have several options for physical exercise and healthy cooking. Those who join can also opt-in to a certificate program to be considered for one of three prizes.

To fulfill certificate program requirements, participants must attend 15 physical fitness classes within the 12-week timeframe. On their first visit, Myriad Life members will receive a punch card on which they can track their weight.

“One of our goals is to show that when people increase their fitness level, they absolutely will see some benefits,” Fleener said.

Fitness class options include yoga, Zumba, dance lessons and a free walking club.

“If you think about [Myriad Life] like a gym membership, it’s really, really cheap,” Fleener said.

Ray echoed Fleener’s sentiments on the accessibility of Myriad Life, especially to people who might not know about affordable local health and wellness opportunities.

“We have great parks in our city, so let’s find ways to get people out there, walking around, moving,” Ray said.

Holistic approach

Fleener said she appreciates the general cultural shift away from dieting and “getting fit” toward “being well.”

Her background in socio-horticultural studies has shown her how essential it is to spend time outdoors. She said gardening and being in nature lowers blood pressure, reduces stress and increases happiness.

Myriad Life’s three-pronged approach to health helps participants combine physical activity with healthy cooking and meditative time in nature.

“Classes like this really can improve your overall wellness,” Fleener said. “If you want to lose weight, this is a great program for that. If you want to lower your stress levels, meditation.”

Courses include subjects such as edible gardening and healthy cooking.

Ray also noted the flexible, individual nature of health and wellbeing and said small changes make a difference.

“[A healthy lifestyle] doesn’t mean necessarily that you’re a strict vegetarian or you have to work out for an hour every day,” she said.

Visit myriadgardens.org or call 405-445-7080 for more information.

Print headline: Fun fitness, Myriad Botanical Gardens’ new health and wellness initiative offers myriad reasons to get outside, garden and eat well.

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