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Fitness program for mentally ill expands in NH

Associated Press

KEENE, N.H. (AP) – New Hampshire is using a $10 million federal grant to help people with serious mental illnesses become more physically fit.

The average life span for someone with a serious mental illness is 25 years shorter than someone in the general population. Dr. Stephen Bartels at Dartmouth College says that gap has largely been overlooked, even though an estimated 10.4 million American adults fall into that category.

Bartels heads a federally funded project to expand a program called In SHAPE to every community mental health center in New Hampshire. The program, based at Monadnock Family Services, pairs participants with trained health mentors for exercise, nutrition counseling and smoking cessation.

Participants credit the program with increasing their self-confidence as well as improving their health.

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