Return of the Public Safety Games

For the first time since the inception of the Public Safety Games, on Friday, May 6, 2022, over 50 employees, fans, and volunteers from many different departments contributed to the kick-off of the 6th anniversary Public Safety Games Kick-Off after a 2-year hiatus due to COVID-19.

 

Participants of varying fitness levels completed many different physically and mentally engaging challenges with the incentive to win both door prizes and potential votes for this year’s fan favorite. Fitness and Wellness chose specific challenges to help participants gain insight into the drills used to physically and mentally train our public safety heroes. These exercises included wall vaulting, window climbing, the Keiser sled, tire flips, the how-to or pull-up challenge, fit-tac-toe, stair climb word find, Echo Bike Jenga, and a 150-pound dummy drag. In addition, many other attractions like the K9 Unit, the Bomb Squad, a Fire Truck, and a Sheriff Recruit Vehicle were available to tour. Each successful challenge completed earned a Bucket Beirut toss to vote for the Fan Favorite. Congratulations to the Division of Police for winning the “Fan Favorite” and 50 points toward your divisional Public Safety Games score!

 

During the month-long competitions, eight teams of 2 and 35 individuals from Henrico’s Police, Fire, and Sheriff divisions are competing in Endurance, Work Capacity, Strength, and Mini Event challenges to determine who will win the title of the Fittest Public Safety Division of 2022. Currently, the Police Division is in the lead, with about 50% of the events still to be tallied. Stay tuned by following the leaderboard here: https://henricova.sharepoint.com/Fitness_Wellness/SitePages/PublicSafetyGames.aspx

 

We invite you to come to watch the explosive and entertaining final obstacle course team competition Friday, June 3 from 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM at the Henrico Training Center.

 

Check out our kick-off recap video!

 

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Recap: Monument Avenue 10K with Team Henrico

On Saturday, April 23, County Employees from General Government and Schools rolled out of bed early to participate in the Monument Avenue 10K. This year’s theme, “Back and Better,” highlighted the long-awaited return of Richmond’s premiere block party to Monument Avenue after a 2-year hiatus. Ninety-five employees, who took advantage of the Team Henrico registration discount, laced up their running shoes and hit the pavement (and at times the historic cobblestones) for a great race.

 

Enjoy the Team Henrico slideshow with pictures of your co-workers and the Spirit Team mighty in their efforts to cheer on all 10K participants!

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A New Year, a New You! In 2022 Put Effort into a New, Improved, and Healthier You!

With 2022 just around the corner, it is time to start setting your sights on what you want to accomplish in the new year. For many, embarking on a New Year’s resolution is met with a couple of weeks, maybe a month or two, of staying on track and meeting your goals only to gradually fall off the new set course and revert to your old habits.  How can you make 2022 different? What can you do to be more focused on achieving your objectives? Well, if you have goals that are centered around your health, wellness, and/or fitness, here is how!

In 2022 the Fitness and Wellness Division of Human Resources is hosting a year-long challenge available to every Henrico County employee and retiree. The challenge, 2022 in 2022, will consist of breaking the year into quarters (13-week blocks) where each quarter focuses on a specific objective. There will be one constant through each quarter which is accumulating 2022 minutes of physical activity/exercise. 2022 minutes may seem very daunting, however let’s look at it broken down. 2022 minutes = 155.5 minutes per week or 2.6 hours per week or 2 hours and 36 minutes per week.  If we break this down further, it is:

  • 7 days at 23 minutes per day
  • 5 days at 31 minutes per day
  • 4 days at 39 minutes per day
  • 3 days at 52 minutes per day.

 

An important thing to remember is that this does not have to be strenuous exercise. Increasing physical activity, going for a walk, taking on an at-home exercise video, or attending a fitness class will work!  If you would like to learn more about participating, please email Fitness and Wellness at fitness@henrico.us.

In addition to the year-long challenge, Fitness and Wellness is also continuing the 10-week health coaching groups. The health coaching groups are centered around small group-based topic-specific behavior changes. So far there have been two 10-week sessions completed with great success!  Here is what a few who have participated in health coaching so far had to say:

“This group has helped us focus on healthier habits, redefined relationships with food, and set reasonable goals for getting healthy.”

“I learned a lot about eating healthy, and fueling your body without dieting.” 

“I enjoyed discussing healthier nutrition habits and choices with other colleagues and our health coach in this work group. We learned useful tips and resources to help us stary mindful of healthy eating.” 

Working with our coach alongside friends pushes me to stay committed and keep the big health picture in mind. “

If you are interested in improving your health and wellness and these health coaching groups interest you, please reach out to Liz Stovall at STO077@henrico.us.

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Say ‘Good Night’ to Improve Health

A good night’s sleep is just as important to your health as dieting and exercising. Unfortunately, there is a lot that can interfere with natural sleep patterns and quality. Here are 10 reasons why good sleep is so important.

1. Poor sleep is linked to higher body weight.

Adults that do not get enough sleep tend to weigh significantly more than those who get adequate sleep. In fact, short sleep duration is one of the strongest risk factors for obesity. The effect of sleep on weight gain is believed to be mediated by hormones and motivation to exercise. If you’re trying to lose weight, getting quality sleep is crucial.

2. Good sleepers tend to eat fewer calories.

Sleep deprivation disrupts the daily fluctuation in appetite hormones and is believed to cause poor appetite regulation.

3. Good sleep can improve concentration and productivity.

Sleep is important for various aspects of brain function, including cognition, concentration, productivity, and performance. Good sleep improves problem-solving skills and enhances memory performance in both children and adults.

4. Good sleep can maximize athletic performance.

Longer sleep is shown to significantly improve speed, accuracy, reaction times, and mental well-being – just a few aspects of athletic and physical performance.

5. Poor sleepers have a greater risk of heart disease and stroke.

Sleep quality and duration can have a major effect on many health risk factors such as an increased risk of chronic diseases. For example, sleeping less than 7-8 hours per night is linked to a heightened possibility of heart disease and stroke.

6. Sleep affects glucose metabolism and type 2 diabetes risk.

Poor sleep habits are strongly linked to adverse effects on blood sugar in the general population. Those sleeping less than 6 hours per night have repeatedly been shown to be at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

7. Poor sleep is linked to depression.

Mental health issues, like depression, are strongly linked to poor sleep quality and sleeping disorders. Those with sleeping disorders like insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea also report significantly higher rates of depression than those without.

8. Sleep improves your immune function.

Even a small loss of sleep has been shown to impair immune function. Those who sleep less than 7 hours a night are 3 times more likely to develop a cold than those who slept 8 hours or more.

9. Poor sleep is linked to increased inflammation.

Sleep loss is known to activate undesirable markers of inflammation and cell damage. In fact, poor sleep has been strongly linked to long-term inflammation of the digestive tract, in disorders knows as inflammatory bowel disease.

10. Sleep affects emotions and social interactions.

Researchers believe that poor sleep affects the ability to recognize important social cues and process emotional information.

 

The bottom line… along with nutrition and exercise, good sleep is one of the pillars of health. You simply cannot achieve optimal health without taking care of your sleep.

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Water and Nutrition

Drinking water every day is vital to your health. It prevents dehydration, when your body loses more fluid than it takes in, a condition that can cause unclear thinking, mood changes, temperature changes, constipation, and kidney stones. Regular consumption of water helps to keep a normal body temperature, lubricates and cushions joints, protects sensitive tissue including the spinal cord, and rids the body of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel moments.

As we move into the hottest and most humid months of the year, try to drink water throughout your day to prevent becoming dehydrated. Here are a few tips to help meet your daily water intake needs.

  • Carry a water bottle with you and refill it throughout the day.
  • Freeze water bottles and take them with you for ice-cold water all day long.
  • Opt for water when eating out. (Bonus – you’ll save money and reduce calorie intake).
  • Add a wedge of lemon or lime to your water to improve the taste.

Remember, the goal is to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. And the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine suggests that women consume 92 ounces of water per day and men consume 125 ounces per day in the form of fluids and food to maintain desired hydration levels.

The exact amount you need depends on factors including age, gender, activity level, pregnancy, and breastfeeding status. The good news for those who have a hard time sipping water all day is that the foods you eat play a big role in keeping you hydrated. Water-dense foods are not just hydrating to the body, they also provide various nutrients including vitamins and fiber. Keep in mind that these water-dense foods will lose water if they are cooked. To optimize the hydration potential, it’s best to eat them raw or minimally cooked.

Here are the eight most hydrating foods and some ideas on how to enjoy them.

  1. Cucumbers (95% water-dense) – Get creative about incorporating cucumbers into your diet. Try dipping cucumber slices into dip or humus in place of chips.
  2. Celery Sticks – With only 15 calories in 4 sticks of celery, there is not much to them except water, vitamins, and minerals. Try stuffing them with peanut butter or tuna salad, which can help reduce your carbohydrate intake if you use celery in place of bread.
  3. Watermelon – This refreshing summertime fruit has water built into its name – and that is not a coincidence. Watermelon is high in water, low in calories, and a welcome addition to many summer dishes.
  4. Cantaloupe – This summer melon packs 427 milligrams of potassium, making it a decent source of the nutrient. Potassium is important to hydration – it’s an electrolyte, which means it helps the body balance water content. You can eat cantaloupe solo, or in a fruit salad, or pair it with prosciutto for a sweet and savory snack.
  5. Strawberries – The sweet, red fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C and incredibly hydrating – with 91% water. Get your fix by serving a strawberry and basil salad or dipping the fruit in melted chocolate for a nutritious dessert.
  6. Iceberg lettuce – All types of lettuce and greens, like kale and spinach, have high water content, but iceberg lettuce wins as the most hydrating at 95% water by weight. The most obvious way to enjoy it is chopped in a salad, but you can use it in place of a bun on your next burger.
  7. Tomatoes – With 94% water content and like cantaloupe, they’re a source of potassium, offering 292 milligrams in one medium tomato, they are versatile and delicious. You can enjoy them in pasta sauce, fresh salsa, gazpacho, or simple sliced and sprinkled with a touch of salt and pepper.
  8. Bell peppers – A low-carbohydrate hydrating food that can be diced to add a crunch to salads, cut into slices as an alternative to chips for scooping hummus or dip, and stuffed for a dinner entrée.

When it comes to water intake, you don’t have to overthink it. If you are eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, hitting the hydration mark should not be hard. Follow tried-and-true nutrition advice by aiming for two to three servings of fruit and five or more servings of veggies daily.

If you feel you can benefit from increasing your water intake this month, join the Fitness and Wellness Hydration Intake Challenge.

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Fill up with Fiber

Fibrous Foods

National Nutrition Month is an annual campaign created by The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. During March, everyone is invited to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthy eating and physical activity habits. Join the “Personalize Your Plate” Campaign with weekly tips on meal planning, adding variety to your diet, and nutrition through all stages of life. Visit the Fitness and Wellness Division’s SharePoint site to find these tips and more

Keep reading to learn more about fiber and easy ways to boost fiber in your daily diet.

What Is Fiber?

Dietary fiber is the part of foods that the body cannot digest or absorb. It is found naturally in plant-based foods including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans, and legumes. Fiber is not broken down and instead passes through your body relatively intact. There are two different types of fiber, each with its own benefits:

Soluble fiber (dissolves in water)

  • Lowers blood cholesterol.
  • Lowers blood sugar.
  • Sources include oatmeal, peas, beans, apples, oranges, carrots, and barley.

Insoluble fiber (does not dissolve in water)

  • Promotes movement of food through the digestive system.
  • Increases stool bulk.
  • Sources include whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, vegetables, nuts, and beans.

Why Do We Need Fiber?

Diets rich in fiber are associated with many health benefits. Fiber helps keep you feeling fuller longer, which helps prevents overeating and hunger between meals. The soluble fiber in oatmeal, beans, and flaxseed can help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. Fiber slows down the digestion of food and keeps blood sugar from rising too quickly. It also adds bulk to your stools to keep waste moving through your intestines, preventing constipation.

 

How Much Fiber Do I Need?

Fiber is an important part of a balanced diet, yet 95% of Americans do not meet dietary fiber intake recommendations. The average target is about 25-35 grams of fiber per day but varies depending on your age.

 

Power Fibers

Getting enough fiber each day is not difficult if you eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Use these foods and portion sizes as a guide.

  • Chia seeds – 1 ounce (2 Tbsp) = 10.5 grams
  • Flaxseeds – 1 ounce = 8 grams
  • Almonds – 1 ounce (~23 almonds) = 3.3 grams
  • Raspberries – 1 cup = 8 grams
  • Pear – with skin = 6 grams
  • Apple – with skin = 4 grams
  • Whole-wheat spaghetti, cooked – 1 cup = 6.3 grams
  • Bran flakes cereal – ¾ cup = 5.5 grams
  • Instant oatmeal, cooked – 1 cup = 4 grams
  • Whole-Wheat English Muffin – 1 whole muffin = 4 grams
  • Air-Popped Popcorn – 3 cups = 3.6 grams
  • Brown rice – 1 cup = 3.5 grams
  • Green peas, boiled – 1 cup = 8.8 grams
  • Black beans, cooked – ½ cup = 7.5 grams
  • Baked Potato – 1 medium baked potato with skin = 4 grams
  • Black beans, cooked – ½ cup = 7.5 grams
  • Brussel sprouts, boiled – 1 cup = 4 grams

Try some of these easy and tasty ways to increase the amount of fiber you eat. Be careful, if you do not eat much fiber now, make gradual changes to the amount of fiber in your diet. Increasing the amount of fiber too quickly can cause gas, bloating, and abdominal cramps.

  • Choose a breakfast cereal with 5+ grams of fiber per serving and top it with strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries.
  • Enjoy fruits and vegetables throughout the day – aim for at least 5 servings.
  • Eat more beans, peas, and lentils. Add them to soups, salads, and casseroles.
  • Enjoy a handful of dried fruit, nuts, or air-popped popcorn as a snack.
  • Substitute whole-wheat flour for half of the white flour your recipe calls for when you are baking.
  • Enjoy whole-grain bread. Look for the ingredient terms “whole wheat”, “whole-wheat flour”, or “whole grain” as the first ingredients on the label and for at least 2 grams of fiber per slice.
  • Eat the peel! Taking the peels off fruits and vegetables reduces the amount of fiber.
  • Switch to brown rice or whole-grain pasta instead of white rice or pasta.
  • Choose whole fruit instead of drinking juice. You will get more fiber and consume fewer calories.

Fiber Face-Off

Here are a few examples of great-tasting fiber-rich foods readily available and how you can “power-up” your preferred food choices. On the left are examples of commonly eaten foods. The options on the right are power-up versions of the same food. The hope is when you see the power-ups you will say “Wow! it really is easy to eat more fiber”-and, “I can do that!”

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Taking Care of Our Tactical Athletes

Tactical professions, such as police officers, firefighters, and sheriff’s deputies, use their minds and bodies to protect and serve.  Being in good physical condition enhances the ability to face physical, environmental and psychological challenges both on and off duty. The demands of these occupations have shown to increase both the risk of chronic diseases (heart disease, cancer and obesity) and musculoskeletal injuries as compared to the general population; not to mention the increased risks of developing cancer and suffering from obesity.  Unlike a typical sports athlete, “tactical” athletes face the unknown all year round, day in and day out. This underscores how imperative finding a balanced relationship between work, fitness, nutrition, sleep and personal life habits is; to combat these known risks and to promote an enhanced quality of life. 

Through Tactical Strength and Conditioning (TSAC) classes, coaching, and challenges, the Henrico County Public Safety Fitness Program strives to make sure our tactical athletes can achieve that balance. They work with the Police, Fire, and Sheriff departments to research and apply appropriate and effective strength and conditioning strategies to optimize job performance and prevent injury for both recruits and sworn incumbents. Let’s see firsthand the positive impacts it has had on two of our own:

Sergeant Dustin Eddington’s story:

I am a Sergeant for the Police Division and I am currently assigned to the Prevention Services Unit – CIT/TAT (Crisis Intervention Team/ Threat Assessment Team).  I work with the unit by visiting citizens in the community that may either be in a mental health crisis and/or in need of services, to include voluntary/involuntary hospitalization. 

Our unit also works all threat assessments: acts of violence, school shootings or other mass casualty threats in hopes to de-escalate and treat those persons.  I am also a Peer Support Person that is available to our first responders in times of stress should they need someone to talk to/listen. For my primary job, my day starts typically at 6:30 am and ends 4:30 pm. I also work secondary jobs 3-4 days a week which gets me home at about 11:00 pm at least 2-3 days a week. So, to say I have a busy schedule, well that would be close to accurate.  I average 70 hours of work a week. 

I started this Health Trip journey almost 2 years ago after a health scare in my family forced me to look at my own health. I weighed in at over 270 pounds at that time. I was grossly overweight and totally out of physical shape. I attended a class on a whim, just to see where I was from their point of view. It was horrible. I could not even complete a workout. Still on my journey, I have lost 70 pounds so far. I try to start off 4-5 days a week at the gym, working out with the TSAC morning program.  It gets my day started on the right track and focused; knowing that my personal goal of exercise has been completed and I can now focus on the day’s events, whatever they should be. I am in a totally different place as far as physical shape and can complete the workouts.

Now, I challenge fellow peers to join the program (see the stats of Detective Damon Grant below), which has been a huge pay it forward accomplishment that I am most proud of. My journey is ongoing with no end in sight, but with the training and assistance of Joshua Gaskins and Joey Pacelli I am meeting and exceeding my goals.

It is a challenge, but I am not alone, as others have stepped up and joined in on achieving their own personal weight management goals, which is a huge motivator to me, knowing that I am not alone in the struggle… Some Days, the struggle is Real… 🙂

If you have read this all the way to the end, I appreciate it. I hope that if you are someone in need of that “push” to get into the gym, please know that you’re not alone and you will have help every step of the way.  You just have to show up and put in the work.

Damon Grant’s Success Story:

I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and had an episode with high blood sugar. My Sergeant was affiliated with this class and introduced me to Josh. I started working out with the class and it was tough. I was overweight and not feeling very energetic. Since I have been working out with this class, there have been some positive changes. Despite the pandemic originally canceling fitness classes, Dustin and I still followed Josh’s program. Now, with classes resumed I have lost 59 pounds since February 2020.

The icing on the cake is that both Dustin and Damon recently completed the 30-day Concept 2 Rower Fall Team Challenge with Team Henrico. Dustin finished in third place on the team with 201,014 meters and Damon finished in fourth place with 186,641 meters. Their amazing efforts helped Team Henrico earn first place in the Corporate Division in this worldwide competition!

While the focus of the Public Safety Fitness Program is to help Henrico’s tactical athletes,  certainly, everyone can relate to the challenges of a good work-life balance and the battle to stay healthy along the way. The Fitness and Wellness Division offers many opportunities to assist all permanent Henrico County employees on their Health Trip journey. 

Follow us on Facebook and Power Henrico to learn more!

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A healthy boost to your day in less than 5 minutes

Start your day with this green smoothie packed with a variety of fruits, like pineapple and banana, in each serving and a nutrient-rich combination of fiber, vitamins and minerals in each sip. The healthy boost comes from the 2 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables in this smoothie recipe meeting the American Heart Associations’ daily intake recommendations to prevent Cancer and disease.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup spinach
  • ½ medium banana, frozen
  • ½ cup pineapple, frozen
  • 4 ounces orange juice (can substitute coconut water to lessen sugar grams and calories)
  • 4 ounces water
  • 1 cup ice

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients into the blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Spinach is packed with nutrients and antioxidants and it is low in calories. The leaves have a very mild flavor making is an easy option for green smoothies. You can barely taste the spinach when its combined with frozen bananas and pineapple.

Spinach Benefits:

  • Nutrient dense food packed with magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, vitamins A, C and K.
  • Great source of antioxidants Lutein and Zeaxanthin to promote eye health by protecting the eyes from UV light.

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