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Bicycling is for everyone!

More than 42 million Americans 6 and older—15% of the population—rode a bike for recreation in 2010, making it the second-most-popular outdoor activity in the U.S. Minnesota’s miles of paved trails are a cyclist’s dream. Many bike trails are along former railroad beds, offering secluded, scenic biking. Several are part of the Minnesota State Trails system, while other trails and routes are regional or metropolitan.

Besides being fun, bicycling is good for you. Here are 5 reasons to start biking today:

  1. Cycling is good for your heart: Cycling is associated with improved cardiovascular fitness, as well as a decrease in the risk of coronary heart disease.
  2. Cycling is good for your muscles: Riding a bike is great for toning and building your muscles, especially in the lower half of the body – your calves, your thighs, and your rear end. It’s also a great low-impact mode of exercise for those with joint conditions or injuries to the legs or hips, which might keep them from being active.
  3. Cycling is good for your weight: You can burn a lot of calories while biking, especially when you cycle faster than a leisurely pace, and cycling has been associated with helping to keep weight gain down.
  4. Cycling is good for your lifespan: Bicycling is a great way to increase your longevity, as cycling regularly has been associated with increased ‘life-years’, even when adjusted for risks of injury through cycling.
  5. Cycling is good for your mental health: Riding a bike has been linked to improved mental health.
  6. So get on your bike and enjoy! Visit the City of Saint Paul’s website for more information on bike safety and trails in Saint Paul and Ramsey County.

    Learn more…

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stories

Tom Green

If the last time you saw Tom Green was 3 years ago, today you probably wouldn’t recognize him. At that time, Tom tipped the scale at 255 lbs. Today, he is maintaining a lean and fit 175 lbs.!

Tom has worked for the City for 13.5 years and is currently a fire equipment operator. He has two daughters that keep him quite busy and active.
It was a few years ago when Tom decided he needed to make a change. He wanted to feel healthier and make sure he would be able to stay active for his children. While he had always been active with participating in cross country skiing, racquetball and mountain biking, over the years, his diet had done a slow creep up to the 255 lbs. He knew it wasn’t so much his activity level as the amount and type of foods he had been eating that had to change.

Tom took on that task on his own, creating a diet that included healthier foods and eliminating more of the unhealthy ones. He confesses to having had a really big sweet tooth. He just couldn’t resist those treats. After six months of cutting out the treats, he realized though that the strong craving he had for them in the past wasn’t there. Plus, he had dropped down to 215 lbs.

This motivated him to keep going down to his ideal weight of 175 lbs. He has been able to maintain that weight by monitoring his weight closely – he likes to weigh every day. While he doesn’t have a perfect diet all the time, he balances the bad with the good and doesn’t really restrict his eating habits too much. Tom has made a lifestyle change that he feels he will keep forever.

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Sgt. Steve Anderson

Last year, like so many other employees, I was participating in the Healthy Saint Paul Well-Being program so I could earn the incentive. I signed up for the onsite screening. My results came back and showed I had higher than normal cholesterol levels and off the chart blood glucose level.

 

While I was somewhat surprised, I thought those numbers were due to not fasting prior to the screening. I knew I also had been eating the wrong “healthy foods” – not understanding the difference between good and bad carbs and eating foods with hidden sugar. So, I made an appointment with my primary doctor figuring he would yell at me about my diet, give me a pill to assist with the high cholesterol and get me on the right path.

 

Well, I was right about having him yell at me and giving me a pill – he put me on cholesterol medications. What I didn’t expect to hear and what shocked me was that I was diagnosed with diabetes. That was a real wake up call for me. I now needed to get serious with my diet – eating the good carbs vs the bad carbs, watching the sugars, making better choices with a real eating plan. Additionally, I began to inject insulin and also take diabetes meds.

 

The good news is I lost about 25 lbs. I’m running and working out every day. I know that is important to stay with too.

 

I’m still having my bad days with the low carb/low sugar diet but I’m plugging along. I owe a great deal to the screening process because it forced me to deal with my numbers and also got me on the right meds. It also got me hooked in to how to lead a better overall healthy lifestyle.

 

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in the spotlight

Stress Management

What happens when you are stressed?

Stress is what you feel when you have to handle more than you are used to. When you are stressed, your body responds as though you are in danger. It makes hormones that speed up your heart, make you breathe faster, and give you a burst of energy. This is called the fight-or-flight stress response.

Some stress is normal and even useful. Stress can help if you need to work hard or react quickly. For example, it can help you win a race or finish an important job on time.

But if stress happens too often or lasts too long, it can have bad effects. It can be linked to headaches, an upset stomach, back pain, and trouble sleeping. It can weaken your immune system, making it harder to fight off disease. If you already have a health problem, stress may make it worse. It can make you moody, tense, or depressed. Your relationships may suffer, and you may not do well at work or school.
What can you do about stress?

The good news is that you can learn ways to manage stress. To get stress under control:
» Find out what is causing stress in your life.
» Look for ways to reduce the amount of stress in your life.
» Learn healthy ways to relieve stress and reduce its harmful effects.

How do you measure your stress level?

Sometimes it is clear where stress is coming from. You can count on stress during a major life change such as the death of a loved one, getting married, or having a baby. But other times it may not be so clear.

It’s important to figure out what causes stress for you. Everyone feels and responds to stress differently. Tracking your stress may help. Get a notebook, and write down when something makes you feel stressed. Then write how you reacted and what you did to deal with the stress. Tracking your stress can help you find out what is causing your stress and how much stress you feel. Then you can take steps to reduce the stress or handle it better.

How can you avoid stress?

Stress is a fact of life for most people. You may not be able to get rid of stress, but you can look for ways to lower it.
Learn better ways to manage your time. You may get more done with less stress if you make a schedule. Think about which things are most important, and do those first.

Find better ways to cope. Look at how you have been dealing with stress. Be honest about what works and what does not. Think about other things that might work better.

Take good care of yourself. Get plenty of rest. Eat well. Don’t smoke. Limit how much alcohol you drink.

Try out new ways of thinking. When you find yourself starting to worry, try to stop the thoughts. Or write down your worries and work on letting go of things you cannot change. Learn to say “no.”

Speak up. Not being able to talk about your needs and concerns creates stress and can make negative feelings worse. Assertive communication can help you express how you feel in a thoughtful, tactful way.

Ask for help. People who have a strong network of family and friends manage stress better.
Sometimes stress is just too much to handle alone. Talking to a friend or family member may help, but you may also want to see a counselor.
How can you relieve stress?

You will feel better if you can find ways to get stress out of your system. The best ways to relieve stress are different for each person. Try some of these ideas to see which ones work for you:

» Exercise. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to manage stress. Walking is a great way to get started.
» Write. It can help to write about the things that are bothering you.
» Let your feelings out. Talk, laugh, cry, and express anger when you need to with someone you trust.
» Do something you enjoy. A hobby can help you relax. Volunteer work or work that helps others can be a great stress reliever.
» Learn ways to relax your body. This can include breathing exercises, muscle relaxation exercises, massage, aromatherapy, yoga, or relaxing exercises like tai chi and qi gong.
» Focus on the present. Try meditation, imagery exercises, or self-hypnosis. Listen to relaxing music. Try to look for the humor in life. Laughter really can be the best medicine.

Want to learn more about your stress level? Use this interactive tool to learn more about your stress level.

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stories

Reynaldo Varela

Rey, tell us a little about yourself.
I have worked for the City in River Print for the last 17 years. My job is to run the two color printing press. There are a couple of factors that led me to change my lifestyle. My job, for example, requires me to stand for long hours. That, along with having gained weight over the years, contributed to finally the need for a knee replacement. In addition, my blood sugar levels were climbing, and I have a family history of diabetes. All my brothers have diabetes and my wife was also at risk.
 
What was your goal in changing your lifestyle?
My goal was to avoid becoming diabetic. My weight was up to 242 lbs. I knew I could lower my blood sugar levels and weight by diet and exercise. So, four years ago, I decided to take up biking. I began biking to work during the good weather months. This is a 7 mile trip one way. On weekends, I would also go for bike rides. I started eating healthier too.
 
What has been the result of your new lifestyle?
To date, my weight is down 40 lbs. My glucose, triglycerides and blood pressure have all gone down as well. I am able to maintain those positive results by sticking with my new lifestyle habits. In addition, my wife and I joined LA Fitness four years ago. We go together three times a week. I mix up my workouts by participating in water aerobics (which is easy on my joints), spin classes, and weight lifting.
 
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to make changes?
My advice is to pick an activity you enjoy, start slow and work your way up, doing four to five times per week. Cut back on carbs, up your fiber and protein. Most important, have fun!

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in the spotlight

March is Nutrition Month

Before you eat, think about what goes on your plate or in your bowl. Foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean protein foods contain the nutrients you need without too many calories. Over the day, include foods from all the food groups. Try the following tips to “Get Your Plate in Shape.”

Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.

  • Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green, red and orange vegetables plus beans and peas. Fresh, frozen and canned vegetables all count. Choose “reduced sodium” or “no-salt-added” canned vegetables.
  • Add fruit to meals and snacks. Buy fruits that are dried, frozen or canned in water or 100% juice, as well as fresh fruits.
  • Make at least half your grains whole.
  • Choose 100% whole-grain breads, cereals, crackers, pasta and brown rice. Check the ingredients list on food packages to find whole-grain foods.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk. Fat-free and low-fat milk have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but less fat and calories. If you are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk or a calcium-fortified soy beverage.
  • Vary your protein choices. Eat a variety of foods from the protein food group each week, such as seafood, nuts and beans, as well as lean meat, poultry and eggs. Twice a week, make seafood the protein on your plate. Keep meat and poultry portions small and lean.

Cut back on sodium and empty calories from solid fats and added sugars.

  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Select fruit for dessert. Eat sugary desserts less often. Choose 100% fruit juice instead of fruit-flavored drinks.
  • Look out for salt (sodium) in foods you buy. Compare sodium in foods and choose those with lower numbers. Add spices or herbs to season food without adding salt.
  • Make major sources of saturated fats such as desserts, pizza, cheese, sausages and hot dogs occasional choices, not every day foods.
  • Select lean cuts of meat or poultry and fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese.
  • Switch from solid fats to oils when preparing food.

Enjoy your food but eat less.

  • Get your personal daily calorie limit at www.ChooseMyPlate.gov. Keep that number in mind when deciding what to eat.
  • Avoid oversized portions. Use a smaller plate, bowl and glass.
  • Cook more often at home, where you are in control of what’s in your food.
  • When eating out, choose lower calorie menu options. Choose dishes that include vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
  • Write down what you eat to keep track of how much you eat.

  • If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so sensibly. Limit to 1 drink a day for women or to 2 drinks a day for men.

Be physically active your way.

  • Pick activities that you like and start by doing what you can, at least 10 minutes at a time. Every bit adds up and health benefits increase as you spend more time being active.
  • Children and teens: Get 60 minutes or more a day.
  • Adults: Get 2 hours and 30 minutes or more a week of activity that requires moderate effort such as brisk walking.

Find more healthy eating tips at:

www.eatright.org
www.kidseatright.org
www.ChooseMyPlate.gov

Information provided by www.eatright.org

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Introducing Jim Hensrud

Jim recently joined the City as the Health and Fitness Specialist for the Police Department.

 

Tell us a bit about your background and experience. How will you use it to help the employees of the Police Department get and stay in shape?
I have a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science: Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation from Winona State University. I am also certified as a Clinical Exercise Specialist from the American College of Sports Medicine. My education is focused on strength and cardiovascular training, fitness programming, nutritional guidance with a special emphasis in heart disease prevention and rehabilitation. Since I have completed my education I have spent the last few years providing personal and group training to individuals in their homes, gyms or corporate fitness centers.

 

Every person is different. I believe in sitting down with a person to develop a fitness and diet plan specifically for them. I put an emphasis in educating someone to understand the importance of diet and exercise and how to keep themselves active and healthy. I encourage anyone with questions to call or stop by anytime.

 

What are some common myths people have about exercise and nutrition?
A few sources I found claimed that $61 billion was spent in the USA on weight loss products in 2012. Many products use false claims or information to make money in this large market. Healthy weight loss is recommended at 1-2 pounds a month. Any product that claims faster weight loss should be avoided. Also, avoid all sales pitches that sell you a product to consume to lose weight. Choose a diet plan that you can follow the rest of your life that contains nothing but natural sources of foods. My best advice: DO NOT take advice from someone trying to sell you something. Another myth is that people must exercise a certain location to lose weight from that area. Where you store fat is based on genetics. You cannot lose weight in specific areas and not others.

 

To lose weight, what has a bigger impact – diet or exercise?
I would say weight loss is 55% activity, 45% nutrition. Those numbers are debatable, but the relationship is very close. You can run marathons and have trouble losing weight if you eat fast food every day. Likewise, the healthiest eater may struggle with weight if they are completely sedentary.



For someone who hasn’t exercised in a long while or is new to it, what would a beginning program look like? Do you have tips for getting started?
Often changes happen slowly so I do not expect anyone to go from no exercise to 5-6 days a week. Three days a week is a good starting point for about 30 minutes at a time. I always tell people to ease into a program to avoid injury or overtraining. Slowly work your way to the minimal recommended amount of 150 minutes a week. A person should begin with something they enjoy to keep them interested, preferably participating in one of their favorite sports. My tips are to schedule exercise into your day early to make sure it gets done and to stick with the program for about 8 weeks to see results. Once a person sees the results they are more likely to stick with a program.



For people already in shape and exercising regularly, is there anything new for them to add to or change in their workouts to get even more results?
Remember the FITT principle:
Frequency: how often someone works out in a week
Intensity: how hard someone works out
Time: how long someone works out
Type: the type of exercise conducted

 

The human body typically adapts to the same fitness program after two weeks. To see physical improvements, an individual must increase one of the above factors from the FITT principle. If a person is exercising as often as needed or as often as possible, they may consider working out harder (increasing Intensity), or changing what they do (different strength training exercises or biking instead of running). The more you change your program, the more you challenge your body to adapt. If an exercise does not challenge you, it does not change you!

 

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Cathy

I’ve always been involved in some kind of an exercise routine, but it was mostly working out at home with exercise videos. When I decided I wanted and needed a change, I joined a “Curves For Women” program. What attracted me to that particular workout routine was that it involved working out to music, as well as the promise of a 30-minute routine. Get in, do the exercises and get out.
 
Eleven years later, I’m still going to my workout sessions. This club was recently purchased by an individual who broadened the choices offered within the program, making it more interesting, fun, and much more flexible. The club is open 24/7 which I like a lot! I can go and do my routine whenever I want. Even though “get in, do the exercises and get out” is still sometimes in my mind, I’m really not in such a hurry to leave. My workout can be short or long, strenuous or easy – the choice is up to me. I actually enjoy working out because I know I’m doing something good for me, physically and mentally. Exercising is a great stress reliever, especially after an especially difficult day at work. After my workouts I hula-hoop, which puts a smile on my face (and on some other faces too!!)
 
Joining a gym or an exercise club may not be for everyone. I know it’s a cliché, but if a person is thinking about making a change to a healthier lifestyle it’s really important to find an activity that is enjoyable and fun. (Yes, working out can be fun!) If the activity isn’t fun, chances are that person won’t stay with the program for a very long time. It’s been said before, but I believe the hardest part of making any change is the first step. After that it does gets easier.
 
If I don’t get to my club I actually feel the difference in my body and in my mind. Before the end of a work day I can be feeling so tired that just thinking about going to do my routine is kind of depressing! But once I get there I start to feel uplifted. After I’m finished, I feel exhilarated and good about myself. It’s not the answer to all of life’s problems, but it sure doesn’t hurt!

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in the spotlight Uncategorized

February is American Heart Month.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; in fact, 2200 people die every day from heart disease and stroke. Many of these could have been prevented.

Prevention starts with everyone. Protect yourself and your loved ones from heart disease and stroke by understanding the risks and taking these steps:
• Control your blood pressure
• Maintain a healthy cholesterol level
• Try to get 30 minutes of activity most days of the week
• If you smoke, get help to quit

Also, it is important to recognize the signs of a heart attack and to act immediately by calling 9–1–1. A person’s chances of surviving a heart attack are increased if emergency treatment is given to the victim as soon as possible.

The five major symptoms of a heart attack are:
• Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back
• Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint
• Chest pain or discomfort
• Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder
• Shortness of breath

If you think that you or someone you know is having a heart attack, you should call 9–1–1 immediately.

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in the spotlight

New Year – Fresh Start

The #1 most often made New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. It is no wonder – the percentage of people in the U.S. who are overweight or obese has grown steadily over the past 20 years. Here at the City of Saint Paul, this is our employees’ top health risk. In fact, 80% of our employees were identified as being overweight or obese.

Healthy Saint Paul has made it a priority to support employees’ New Year’s resolutions to lose weight. Find out what’s available to help reach a healthier, new you goal.

Healthy Saint Paul is offering the following options to support you in reaching your weight loss goals:

Lose-Weight-in-8-logo
Lose Weight in 8 Challenge
Competition is sometimes just the motivation people need to reach their goal. The Lose Weight in 8 Challenge will begin January 19. It will motivate and inspire you with engaging online tools, tips and trackers to help you be successful. Plus, great prizes will go to the winners!

weightwatch
Weight Watchers at Work
Current meetings are held on Thursdays in the basement of City Hall from 12-1 p.m. A $10/month subsidy is available for up to 6 months. Want to start a Weight Watchers Group at your worksite? Contact for more information. A minimum of 20 people is needed to start a group.

healthpartE-Weight Loss
Offered through HealthPartners, this online coaching program offers support and education to people with a weight loss goal.

Other places for support and information on losing weight:

expfit
Express Fitness offered by St. Paul Parks and Recreation: a low cost, 2 hour drop in class, offered exclusively at El Rio Vista recreation center located in the Wellstone building at 179 East Robie in St. Paul. The class consists of core, balance, strength, endurance and cardio activities combined with a nutrition plan. Contact the El Rio Vista for more information.

HealthPartners’ A Call to Change…Healthy Lifestyles, Healthy Weight – phone-based program. www.healthpartners.com/portal/3107.html.

Local hospitals and clinics that specialize in weight loss.

Best websites to help you stay focused on your weight-loss and fitness goals.

(Best of all, these websites are completely free to use.)
www.Myfitnesspal.com
www.FitDay.com
www.Sparkpeople.com