In his former life, Robert was an overweight Brooklyn boy, nicknamed Butterball, a chocolate cheesecake lover, high school valedictorian, DuPont chemical engineer and born-again ultra-marathoner. After losing much of his family to heart disease, Robert resigned from his 11-year $100,000 DuPont engineering job to take his message about the importance of physical activity on the road — literally — walking the talk across America. Later, a Wall Street Journal headline read, “When Sweetgall Walks, People Listen.”
There have been many interviews conducted with 80- to 100-year-olds which reveal 14 common lifestyle habits. These are simple habits that everyone – the young and the young at heart – can do.
1. Physical Activity. People who remain physically active throughout their lives have stronger endurance, bones, muscles, circulatory and immune systems and sharper minds than their sedentary counterparts.
2. Nutrition. Long-living folks are frugal eaters. They eat to live — not live to eat. Studies on animals confirm slower aging effects when caloric intake is modest. Eating more of a plant-based diet with less fat and sweetened carbohydrates helps maintain modest caloric intake.
3. Sleep. Early to bed, early to rise with consistent sleep patterns is good for longevity. Staying up late impairs your immune system. It’s also associated with late-night eating and obesity.
4. Safety. You can be very fit, but if you’re a risk-taker, chances are greater than you may die fit and young. Every act in your life carries a risk — from not wearing a helmet or seatbelt to speeding on highways.
5. Family and Friends. This is all about your social-support network — the safety net you can count on to get you through tough times.
6. Coping with Loss. Those who can pay their respects at a funeral and get on with their lives, maintaining a strong will to live, turn out to be better survivors. Too many spouses die a year after their life-partner dies. Coincidence? Probably not.
7. Resiliency. The ability to adapt to changing times, views and situations is so much healthier than being rigid and non-compromising.
8. Coping with Stress. Stress affects all cells and biological systems in the body. Health seniors learn “not to sweat the small stuff — and it’s all small stuff.” So be happy and try not to worry so much — especially about things you can’t control.
9. Humor. Healthy people have a talent for finding the funny side of life and laughing at it. So lighten up and stop taking everything so seriously! Play like a child!
10. Humanitarianism. Longevity is aided by random acts of kindness. People who act kindly, doing good deeds, acting honestly and fairly with greater understanding seem to get rewarded with more time to keep doing good things.
11. Spirituality and Faith. Having faith in a higher power seems to correlate with longer, healthier lives. Related to this concept is having purpose in life, prayer, hope and doing good for the benefit of society.
12. Positive Attitude. Waking up each morning and looking forward to a new day is healthier than rising with an attitude of “Oh, how am I going to get through today?” To be more positive, turn off the TV and go out walking in nature. Be optimistic! Look for the “good” in people and situations.
13. Job Satisfaction and Happiness. In America, more people die on Monday mornings than any other time of the week. Was Monday-morning-death so prominent thousands of years ago? Realize it’s an advantage to love your work or at least look forward to it. In the 1927 book “Happiness,” Yale President Timothy Dwight states, “The happiest person is the person who thinks the most interesting thoughts.” Think about that!
14. Lifelong Learning. Learning keeps life interesting. It also keeps your brain “in shape” — use it or lose it. When you stop using your brain, it shrivels up and dies; so does the rest of you.
Meet Robert Sweetgall
After walking and running seven times across America (which is four more than Tom Hanks’ character did in the Hollywood movie, Forrest Gump), Robert Sweetgall will be visiting St. Cloud to speak on the subjects he knows best – walking, physical activity and the motivation to move.
You have two chances to learn about wellness from Robert Sweetgall, who is the first person to have walked 11,208 miles through all 50 states in one year.
• Longevity, Aging and the Meaning of Life from 1-2:30 p.m. May 16 in the Olson Room at Whitney Senior Center, St. Cloud. Learn how you can add years to your life and life to your years.
• Motivation to Move: Great Ways to Reduce 5 Weight & Stress from 6:30-8 p.m. May 16 in Clemens Hall at Whitney Center, St. Cloud. Learn how you can increase your health and decrease your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Door prizes and refreshments provided. Free and open to all ages. Learm more here!
Comment below (or click on “comment” at the top of this blog) if you are planning to attend any of the events. Let us know which one…we’d love to hear from you!!
Hi, I’m Gretchen O’Brien. I have worked for Apollo Insurance Agency (Apollo) for 2 ½ years, as their accountant. I commute from Cokato; where my husband and I raise our four children, ages 10 to 4. Nutrition and exercise are very important to me because I need to be a good role model for my children. I also made a promise to myself when I became a mother that I was going to be an active, hands-on mother. This mom was not going to sit along the pool and watch her kids swim because she was too embarrassed to get into a swim suit or not play basketball because I was too out of breath. I was going to race them down the driveway, teach my girls how to play softball, take them on bike rides and wrestle with my son until he gets too strong for me!
Here at Apollo, we just kicked off our 2nd Annual Walking Challenge for our employees. Last year we had incredible participation and this year it is even better! Apollo purchased pedometers for all employees interested in participating in the program. Participants can then log their steps weekly.
Last year we challenged employees to take a “virtual” walk around Northern Minnesota in 3 months; approximately 460 miles. Nearly half of our employees – 48% of the participants – completed this challenge. But along the way, we didn’t stress that completing was necessary – we gave awards at various stops to keep our employees motivated and excited!
This year we have created teams of 7 and are challenging our employees to take another “virtual” walk - but this time its coastal. We’re asking participant to walk westward from Boston, MA to Portland, OR in 3 months – a total of 3,131 miles or 6,262,000 steps. The team aspect should be quite an interesting little spin on the activity.
I have to tell you we have a VERY competitive group here at Apollo. So when we give these challenges to our employees – they run with them! It’s so much fun! And the drive is contagious throughout our entire offices! We feel here at Apollo that this increases our morale and builds relationships among our employees. And, of course, our employees are focusing on being healthy and more active, which in turns they feel better about themselves. Doing this activity also gives employees encouragement and support to lead a healthier life – which truly is a win-win situation for all of us.
As an employee at Apollo, I am thankful to work for a company that values me - not only as an employee – but values my health and happiness. This program makes me accountable to “something” else. With the support at work, I am able to push myself a little more to help me reach my goals of continuing a healthy lifestyle.
Healthy Workplace – Healthy Home
This program has enriched more than my work life – it’s making a difference in my home life. For example, last summer I was wearing my pedometer, it was a Sunday afternoon and we had just gotten home from a family gathering. I looked down at my pedometer and I was nowhere near my steps for the day. So, instead of going to the couch, I decided I better go for a quick run. Well, then my husband decided he better too – the darn guilt! Soon we were loading up the bikes for the kids and taking off to the nearest trail for a little family exercise.
Not only were we exercising, we were spending better quality time together as a family then we would have been watching TV. For that - I have to thank Apollo and that pesty little pedometer!
Apollo in the Community
With Apollo’s walking program we charge employees $10 to participate. This $10 is then donated to the United Way as part of our Yearly campaign. Apollo is a huge believer in giving back to the community. In addition to United Way, Apollo contributes time and funds to Country Manor, Quiet Oaks Hospice Home, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Salvation Army, BLEND and many more.
Next up, Apollo will be volunteering at the BLEND Kid’s Health and Fitness Expo at St Cloud State University for the Earth Day Run Events. We will be assisting with the exclusive BLEND Photo Booth. Please be sure to bring your kids and stop by and see us!
Apollo Insurance Agency
This is a guest post by Rick Miller, founder and Director of the Central Minnesota Sustainability Project. The project’s mission is to teach the community the value of the environment and economic stability; connecting people with land and providing the supplies and knowledge needed to grow healthful, chemical-free foods.
The dream of a community garden to honor the late Dr. Jim Kelly, an avid gardener and a central figure in the development of CentraCare, is coming into full bloom and will be showcased on Saturday, August 11, between 10:00 AM and 12:00 noon. Kelly Garden, which is located on the south end of the CentraCare Health Plaza campus, will be part of a state wide “Gardening Matters” network of garden tours on that day.
The forty-six plot community garden was the dream of Dr. Tom Leither who was mentored by Dr. Kelly. With the support of the CentraCare Health Foundation, which provided construction and development funding, Dr. Angie Ausban and Dr. Kevin Smith who have provided immeasurable support in numerous ways, and in collaboration with the Central Minnesota Sustainability Project which landscapes and manages the garden, Kelly Garden was constructed in 2010. Despite some water retention problems in the early going, supporters have persevered and the garden today is alive with the pulse of natural and human diversity.
Community Gardens are growing in popularity across the Nation. They provide an opportunity for people to connect with their roots in nature and in the human community. They also provide an opportunity for people to become aware of how healthy food and healthy lifestyles affect human health. Dr. David Kroska has become an ardent supporter of Kelly Garden which fits “hand in glove” with his mission at the CentraCare Clinics “L.I.F.E.” Program. Dr. Kroska, recipient of the 2012 Sustainability Award given annually by the Joint Planning District Sustainability Committee, has long been committed to exposing the link between human health and healthy food and lifestyles.
Best of all, Dr. Jim Kelly’s family has embraced and become strong supporters of Kelly Garden. Dr. Kelly’s widow, June Kelly, will be on site at 10:00 AM August 11, for the dedication of Dr. Jim Kelly Garden. June Kelly, well known in St. Cloud for her many years of community activism, exemplifies the spirit of Dr. Jim Kelly Garden through her lifelong support for good in our community.
You are invited to honor Dr. Jim and June Kelly at 10:00 AM on August 11 at Dr. Jim Kelly Garden at CentraCare Health Plaza.
By: Rick Miller, Co-Founder
Central Minnesota Sustainability Project
Summers in Minnesota come and go too fast, right? This summer is no exception…my goodness, it’s mid July already. Soon kids will be wrapping up their summer programming and getting ready for school. Don’t panic - if you haven’t done what you’ve wanted to do or planned something for this summer…there’s still time.
Finding something to do can be a daunting task. Again, don’t fret….in just a few minutes you can find lots of great ways to enjoy the rest of your summer in the Greater St. Cloud area. You can go online, listen to the radio, or read local newspapers and bulletins to find local happenings. No doubt you’ll find promotions for events, local town days and church festivals…and, let’s not forget about our fabulous MN resources which provide plenty of opportunities for fun in the sun.
Here’s are some local, healthy happening for you to consider…
- Spend a Wednesday night with your family, friends and neighbors at Lake George! The St. Cloud Rotary’s Summertime by George is a free concert and festival every Wednesday through August 29th.
- Challenge yourself and your family to a 5K race event. The Red River Run is part of the BLEND Fit Kids Club Series and a great race event (7/28/12),
- Get a taste for competition “Olympic-style” at the Anderson Trucking Family Field Days (8/11/12),
- Tour some of MN’s Community Gardens! August 11th is MN Community Garden Day 2012,
- Enjoy the outdoors with your family at the Take the Day OFF (Outdoor Family Fun) on the Mississippi event (8/11/12),
Places to Go:
- Explore the Quarry Park and Nature Preserve, or visit one of MN’s Natural Parks and Trails.
- Take a bike ride or stroll on the Lake Wobegon Trail,
- Stroll through beautiful Munsinger and Clemens Gardens,
- Waste a couple of hours at SummerLand Fun Park,
- Cool off at one of the areas wading pools and splash pads,
- Relax on one of MN beaches! Visit County websites for locations!
- Spend the day at the St. Cloud Skate Plaza,
- Attend a County Fair! Click here for fair dates and locations,
- Play some Disc Golf!
A great website to visit is Explore MN - look for “Things To Do” and “Where To Go” in Central MN and throughout the state. Also, contact local Community Service Organizations and see what events they have planned. And, go to the BLEND Calendar of Events for more race events!
Check out this video from the Stearns County, MN website! Who knew you could do all this at the Quarry Park and Nature Preserve? You can enjoy most of the fun during their upcoming event – Quarry Park and Nature Preserve Free Day on July 21, 2012!
Most of the suggestions listed above are affordable - they are either free or at low cost. Pack a picnic basket full of snacks and beverages — you’re sure to save some money and eat healthier. Don’t forget to involve your kids in the planning, too. (unless it’s a surprise, of course)!
Don’t let summer slip away without getting out and enjoying what MN has to offer. Step out of the box, break your routine, surprise your family and try something new. You won’t regret the fun you had, the memories you made, or the stories your kids can share at school!
Tell us what you like to do in MN?
Angie Stenson is the Senior Transportation Planner at the St. Cloud Area Planning Organization (APO). The APO is the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the St. Cloud area and conducts transportation planning activities for all modes including transit, bicycle, and pedestrian. Ms. Stenson graduated from the University of Illinois with a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning and is an alumna of North Dakota State University. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).
On May 9, 2012 MnDOT announced Safe Routes to School (SRTS) grant recipients of federal funds totaling $768,000. The program will support 92 Minnesota schools, funding non-infrastructure and planning activities. Oak Hill Community School in St. Cloud is among the awardees. Oak Hill is one of 70 schools in 35 communities statewide to receive support for completion of a SRTS plan. The planning assistance grant will help the school gather information on existing conditions, gather public input, and identify potential infrastructure and non-infrastructure solutions to promote bicycling and walking to school.
Safe Routes to School is a program created through federal legislation in the 2005 federal transportation bill (SAFETEA-LU). The main purpose of the program is to increase opportunities for children to safely walk and bicycle to school. It also seeks to address the current social issue of childhood obesity and inactivity. In addition, SRTS can lead to community benefits such as decreases in traffic congestion issues and motor vehicle emissions.
At the core of SRTS are the 5 E’s: Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation. This promotes a balanced approach to the implementation of the program. This funding cycle included solicitation for non-infrastructure and planning funds only, meaning no infrastructure projects were awarded. Since 2005, however, the majority of funding, $9.9 million, has been awarded for infrastructure projects.
Non-infrastructure and planning activities are a vital part of the SRTS program as a whole. The importance of the new, concrete sidewalk or the smooth, asphalt multi-use path installation is visibly understood by most, but the underlying factors of education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation can be more difficult to validate. This funding cycle MnDOT allocated funding for planning assistance as well as non-infrastructure projects including walking and bicycling maps, support for crossing guard programs, bicycle safety programs (during and after school), and various encouragement activities such as a “Walking School Bus”. These programs are activity based and go hand-in-hand with the development of new infrastructure.
In the case of Oak Hill, the planning process is valuable because no clear, common-sense solution directly addresses the primary goal of increasing opportunities for children to safely walk and bicycle to the school. Existing conditions, opportunities, and scenarios will be explored through the combination of community input and technical expertise (SRTS grant). The objective of the process will be to provide a plan for pedestrian infrastructure improvements in and around the school, and it will stress ways to bolster bicycle and pedestrian safety education as well as encouragement programs. If you are a parent or staff member at Oak Hill, look for opportunities to get involved in the SRTS planning beginning this fall.
Do you have an interest in bicycle and pedestrian issues beyond the SRTS program? The St. Cloud Area Planning Organization (APO) has a venue for you to share your ideas or concerns. The APO Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee consists of community members and officials who meet to discuss relevant and ongoing bicycle and pedestrian topics in the metropolitan area. Please contact me if you would like more information.