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UPMC Sports Medicine’s PRIMA Program Helps Couch Potatoes Over 40 Become Physically Fit With New ‘START’


With its brand-new START program, UPMC Sports Medicine’s Performance and Research Initiative for Masters Athletes (PRIMA) will help to improve the lifestyles of a huge portion of the population - men and women over age 40 who don’t exercise regularly.

Beginning June 16, UPMC Sports Medicine experts will guide participants through 12 weeks of physical activity and education that will gradually prepare them to walk or run the 5K portion of the 30th annual Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race on Sept. 30. START program participants also will acquire the skills needed to achieve long-term results even after completing the classes, which will stress maintaining a healthy lifestyle and improving physical fitness in the future.

“Everyone worries about dying from bird flu or bad spinach – things that will affect a small percentage of people – when the real killer is your couch,” said Vonda Wright, M.D., who is director of PRIMA and an orthopaedic surgeon at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine. “UPMC’s PRIMA program is very excited to offer adult-onset exercisers the amazing opportunity to take control of their physical health by getting off their couches and leading more active lives,” added Dr. Wright, who also is assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

While an active lifestyle is essential to good health, as people age, achieving physical fitness becomes increasingly challenging. UPMC Sports Medicine’s unique PRIMA program provides several services intended for mature serious and recreational athletes, helping them to remain fit, functional and performing their best. For those who do not consider themselves athletes, PRIMA’s START program provides the same expertise to a wider segment of the population, including all physically independent adults over age 40 who would like to get in shape.

The START program, using the resources and expertise of UPMC Center for Sports Medicine staff, will direct participants through fitness training, wellness counseling, medical evaluations and psychological coaching. The process will involve weekly educational and exercise sessions as well as assigned at-home exercise routines. Program instructors also will e-mail participants fitness tips and messages of encouragement on a regular basis. Participants will progress through the program with a group of their peers, ultimately gaining the tools needed to achieve long-term physical fitness.

All START program sessions will be held at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine, located at 3200 South Water Street on Pittsburgh’s South Side.


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