Join Us for Henrico’s Life-long Wellness Fair

Henrico’s Life-long Wellness Fair: Taking Action To Live Well Now And To Prepare For The Unexpected.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023 11 AM – 1 PM

Henrico Western Government Center, Administration Courtyard Fountain – rain back up first level of the parking garage

May is National Employee Health and Fitness Month and Older Americans Month. Both observances aim to improve the health of the workforce through all stages of employment and past retirement. Through initiatives and helpful programs and services, these campaigns encourage employees to make ‘healthy the norm” by cultivating sustainable life-long wellness action beyond May.

The Life-long Wellness Fair: Taking action to live well now and to prepare for the unexpected employee event is scheduled for Wednesday, May 17, 2023, 11 AM – 1 PM at the Henrico Western Government Center, Administration Courtyard Fountain (rain site: first level of the parking garage). 

The fair offers a variety of free health, fitness, and preparedness educational vendors such as

  • Blood pressure Screening
  • Free and Discounted gym memberships
  • Employee and community fitness and recreation programming
  • Virginia Extension Office, Keep Henrico Beautiful, HEART
  • Financial preparedness resources
  • Henrico’s Fire Marshall’s office and CARE
  • Bystander CPR, Safety, and AED
  • EngAge Advocate for the Aging & Eldercare resources
  • Wills/Power of Attorney/Probate

There will also be giveaways and much more!

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Monument Avenue 10K Recap

Over 100 Henrico County Employees showed up to The Annual Monument Avenue 10K on Saturday, April 22. This was the largest showing of Team Henrico in recent years.  Check out these photos of employees who participated in the race and the cheer team that supported them!


Be on the lookout for more information for our next run: The Anthe Corporate 5K on June 8.

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Henrico has H.E.A.R.T. this Earth Day

April 22nd is Earth Day, an annual event celebrated since 1970 to promote environmental protection. Henrico County has a long history of environmental stewardship and has recently strengthened that commitment by creating Henrico’s Environmental Action Resource Team (H.E.A.R.T.). H.E.A.R.T. is a robust committee of county employees representing many different departments. The committee is focused on identifying sustainability initiatives and goals to improve county operations in the areas of green space and recreation, energy resources and conservation, water, mobility and active transportation, and education and outreach. Cari Tretina and Steve Yob are leading the H.E.A.R.T. effort, which will soon expand to involve representatives of the Henrico community, including a youth council.  

Henrico County will celebrate Earth Day this year with a public festival at Deep Run Park on Saturday, April 22nd, from 10 AM – 1 PM, hosted by Recreation & Parks and Keep Henrico Beautiful. The event will feature live music, food trucks, and activities such as face painting, seed planting, a sensory-friendly activity tent, and a vendor fair. County departments, local environmental groups, and business vendors will share information on energy efficiency, recycling, residential solar, air quality, native plants, and more. In addition, Tech For Troops will be collecting retired technology and refurbishing it to help veterans in need. A list of equipment they accept can be found at Go green by recycling your old technology to help a veteran.

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Living Longer- the Blue Zone Mentality

According to world Blue Zone research, the longest-living people on earth eat a fiber-rich diet and rely on locally grown fruits and vegetables. What began as a National Geographic expedition to uncover the secrets of longevity evolved into discovering the five places around the world where people consistently live over 100 years old, dubbed the Blue Zones. Subsequent studies indicate only about 20% of how long the average person lives is dictated by our genes, whereas our lifestyle dictates the other 80%. National Geographic and the National Institute on Aging researchers found the five demographically confirmed, geographically defined areas with the highest percentage of centenarians – Loma Linda, California; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Sardinia, Italy; Ikaria, Greece; and Okinawa, Japan. Besides having a large percentage of people that live to 100, the aging population also remains active well into their 80s and 90s and typically does not suffer the degenerative diseases common in most of the industrialized world.

The top lessons from the world’s Blue Zones on living a long, healthy life are to move naturally, have a purpose, be in the right tribe, and eat wisely. Moving naturally throughout the day – walking, gardening, doing housework – is a core part of the Blue Zones. Knowing why you wake up in the morning makes you healthier and happier and adds up to seven years of extra life expectancy. The Okinawans call it ikigai (pronounced e-key-guy) and the Nicoyans can it plan de vida. In the United States, the common term is purpose – to have intention. Finding your tribe supports human nature to search for belonging by looking for people who share commonalities or possess the traits we aspire to adopt. The world’s longest-lived people have close friends and strong social networks. The last lesson, eat wisely, combines attitudes toward food and consumption behaviors. People living in the Blue Zones areas stop eating when their stomachs are 80% full and eat their smallest meal in the early evening. They select vegetables, fruits, and whole grains or beans as the cornerstone ingredients of most meals while meats are eaten in small amounts. Finally, the enjoyment of moderate consumption of wine with friends and/or with food is widely practiced.

Creating a Blue Zones lifestyle is possible with focused intention. Moving more throughout the day can be as simple as walking daily. Finding meaningful work and intentionally aligning values to everyday actions are steps to living with purpose. When creating your tribe, looking for people ‘instantly recognizable” or who feel “deeply familiar” is a very Western idea. The downside is pushing to the side the person you don’t feel an instant affinity with. Consider including in your tribe those you resonate with and those who challenge you to see the world in a new way. Most Americans find adding fruits to their meals easy, but we struggle with adding vegetables. Add a salad. Salads are a great way to add a good amount of nutrient-rich vegetables to your diet. Let’s start with three different salad recipes from EatingWell that will fill you up and delight your taste buds.


Italian Chopped Salad

Roasted Sweet Potato and White Bean Salad

Lemony Lentil Salad with Feta

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BE THE BEAT & ROCK YOUR RED to support American Heart Month 2023

February is American Heart Month, and there are many ways for you to Go Red and help raise awareness for heart health. Friday, February 3 is National Wear Red Day, and you can BE THE BEAT by wearing red, sharing at least one healthy habit you’re prioritizing – it could be sleep, stress management, physical activity, nutrition, or whatever works best for you – and encourage others to do the same. Together we can help others we know to reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease by building healthy habits.

Get your work squad together, rally your team, and GO RED together:

  • Wear Red! Encourage your office team to wear their favorite red outfits on Friday, February 3 – National Wear Red Day.
  • Make an office playlist. Share a song that gets you moving or helps to manage stress.
  • Get up and move throughout the day. A simple stretch break or a workout class at the office will help reduce stress and is a great way to bond as a team.
  • Hold a healthy eating challenge. Challenge your office to commit to healthy eating during American Heart Month.
  • Share how you are supporting your cardiovascular health this month. Listen to what others are doing. Please encourage them to keep going and celebrate the wins!
  • Learn more about cardiac arrest, stroke, and CPR.

Let us know how what healthy habit you are prioritizing. If you aren’t sure where to begin on your better health journey, reach out to the Division of Fitness and Wellness and consider health coaching or fitness classes.

Employee Health Services (EHS) also offers blood pressure checks, blood sugar checks, and counseling for diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol management. Call 804-501-1600 to schedule an appointment or for more information.

Show us your red! Please email any photos of you and your teams wearing your red to Christy Nealey for a chance to be featured on social media or in the next County Connection!

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Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Recently, the Fitness & Wellness Division has shared information on Life’s Essential 8™ – critical factors for improving and maintaining heart health, as defined by the American Heart Association. Past monthly awareness campaigns have included an introduction to the Essential 8 cardiovascular health target areas (September 2022) and steps to manage blood sugar in conjunction with National Diabetes Awareness Month (November 2022). This month we turn our attention to sleep with a focus on common sleep problems, recommended hours of sleep, and tips for setting up healthy sleep habits. 

Exhausted? Tossing and turning? Not getting a good night’s sleep? Sleep problems are common, and there are ways to improve the quality of your sleep with benefits to both physical and mental well-being. Common sleep problems include:

  • Trouble falling asleep – lying in bed for more than 30 minutes without being able to fall asleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep – waking up frequently during the night
  • Early morning waking – waking before you need to get up and not being able to fall back asleep
  • Behaviors that interfere with sleep – snoring, grinding teeth, restless legs, sleepwalking, and breathing problems
  • Sleeping too much or for too long
  • Excessive sleepiness or urge to nap during the day
  • Extreme fatigue or lack of energy

Sleep problems can hurt mental health by influencing emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. When sleep is disturbed, you might feel irritable, grumpy, sad, anxious, worried, or stressed. Sleep problems can make it difficult to concentrate, think clearly, or make decisions. If you’re wondering how many hours of sleep your body needs, The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend 7 to 12 hours, depending on age.

Age Group


Recommended Hours of Sleep


4-12 months

12-16 hours per 24 hours, including naps


1-2 years

11-14 hours per 24 hours, including naps


3-5 years

10-13 hours per 24 hours, including naps

School Age

6-12 years

9-12 hours a night


13-18 years

8-10 hours a night


18+ years

7 -9 hours per night


Individuals do indeed have different sleep needs. Some naturally need less sleep, while others need more. For adults, consistently sleeping fewer than 6 hours a night or more than 10 hours per day can have health risks or be a sign of another health problem. One of the most powerful ways to improve sleep is to make small changes in everyday behaviors that impact how fast you fall asleep and whether you stay asleep. To improve sleep hygiene, focus on increasing behaviors that will enhance sleep, naturally reducing behaviors that interfere with sleep. Follow these tips for getting a good night’s sleep.

Tip #1: Avoid caffeine close to bedtime. Some people have problems sleeping when they have consumed too much caffeine.

Tip #2: Avoid alcohol close to bedtime. It may feel like alcohol helps you fall asleep faster, but alcohol can disrupt your sleep by causing breathing problems and jerky arms and legs.

Tip #3: Unwind. Stress dramatically impacts sleep, so it is essential to relax before bed. Read a good book, do a crossword puzzle, take a bath or shower, listen to calming music or try a relaxation exercise. Screen time is stimulating, and the blue light emitted by devices can affect sleep. It’s recommended to avoid watching TV, going online, or using other electronic devices for at least 30 minutes before bed.

Tip #4: Exercise a few hours before bedtime. Research indicates that people who exercise regularly (30 to 60 minutes, 3-5 times a week) have a deeper sleep. In addition, exercising boosts energy, so it is best to exercise four to eight hours before bedtime. 

Tip #5: Follow the same routine. Try to keep the same sleep and wake schedule every day, including weekends. Maintaining a consistent schedule allows your body to establish a routine. 

Tip #6: Avoid naps if you experience sleep problems. Naps aren’t necessarily a problem, but for some, naps may interfere with sleep at night. If you are experiencing problems with sleep, consider cutting out naps to see if your sleep improves. It is best to keep naps short, around 30 minutes at most, to minimize disruptions to your standard sleep patterns. However, if you feel so tired that you can’t get through the day without a nap, you should talk with your doctor. It can signify another health problem, including a sleep disorder.

Tip #7: Avoid going to bed too full or too hungry. Eating balanced, healthy meals and snacks regularly throughout the day will help with a good night’s sleep. Try to avoid eating a large meal two hours before bedtime. 

Tip #8: Get up if you do not fall asleep within half an hour. Leave your bedroom and do something relaxing, like listening to soft music, taking a bath, drinking a warm caffeine-free beverage, or meditating. Avoid watching TV or going on your phone during this time. Then, go back to bed once you feel very drowsy. At first, this might feel like falling asleep is getting worse because you may have a few sleepless nights. However, it will become easier to fall asleep and stay asleep after several nights. Be consistent in your use of this strategy. Studies do show it is very effective in reversing sleep problems. 

Tip #9: Make your bedroom comfortable and only use it for sleeping. A mattress with good support and comfortable bedding are both helpful. Ensure your room is not too hot or too cold – slightly cool is best. Don’t use your bed to watch TV, work, study, or do other mentally stimulating activities.

Tip #10: Challenge your belief that you cannot function without a perfect night’s sleep. When you can’t sleep, you might check the clock and worry about getting through the upcoming day. This increases anxiety and makes it even harder to fall back asleep. Instead, turn the clock away from your view. Remind yourself that you can likely do your daily activities even when you feel tired (unless this would pose a danger to yourself or others).



The American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8

Life’s Essential 8 – How to Get Healthy Sleep

Sleep your Way to Whole Body Health

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Manage Blood Sugar with the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8

Knowing how sugar (glucose) and insulin work in the body is essential for understanding how diabetes impacts health. Diabetes happens when the body has a chronic build-up of extra sugar in the bloodstream, causing blood sugar (also called blood glucose) levels to rise higher than average, known as hyperglycemia. When you eat, your body breaks food down into sugar and sends it into the blood. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps move the sugar from the blood into your cells. When sugar enters your cells, it is either used as fuel for energy right away or stored for later use. In a person with diabetes, there is a problem with insulin. And not everyone with diabetes has the same insulin problem. There are different types of diabetes – type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. If you have diabetes – type 1, type 2, or gestational – your body either doesn’t make enough insulin, can’t use the insulin well, or both.

Nutrition and physical activity are essential parts of a healthy lifestyle when you have diabetes. Following a healthy meal plan and being active can help keep blood sugar in your target range. Managing blood sugar is about balancing what you eat and drink with physical activity and diabetes medicine, if you take any. What you choose to eat, how much you eat, and when you eat are critical in keeping your blood glucose level in the range your healthcare team recommends. The American Diabetes Association recommends using the Diabetes Plate Method to create perfectly portioned meals with a healthy balance of vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates – without counting, calculating, weighing, or measuring. 

Remember, along with diet and medication, regular physical activity is an integral part of managing diabetes or dealing with prediabetes. When your body is active, your cells become more sensitive to insulin, working more effectively to lower your blood sugar. Light walking is a great place to start and a great habit to incorporate into your life. Walking with a loved one or just by yourself while listening to an audiobook are good ways to move more. If you are struggling with getting started or feeling overwhelmed by the idea of creating a more active life, there are health coaching resources available to support you through this behavior change journey. 

Community resources are available if you are concerned about your risk for developing diabetes or are looking for help in managing your current diabetes diagnosis. 

Anthem ConditionCare offers tools and support to Henrico County health plan subscribers and their covered family members for diabetes management.

The Balm in Gilead – Southeast Diabetes Faith Initiative – Virginia, 620 Moorefield Park Drive, Suite 150, Richmond, VA 23226. (804) 644-2256

Bon Secours Center for Healthy Living Sarah Garland Jones Center, 2600 Nine Mile Road, Richmond, VA 23223. (804) 287-7941

VCU Health Hub at 25th, 1330 N. 25th Street, Suite A, Richmond, VA 23223. (804) 628-6401

Henrico County Employee Health Services offers health education and individualized dietary counseling. 7740 Shrader Rd, Suite A, Henrico, VA 23228. (804) 501-1600


Resource list:

‘Managing blood sugar’ link: 

‘Diabetes Plate Method link:,you%20need%20is%20a%20plate!

‘Health coaching resources’ link:

‘Diabetes risk’ link:


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National Diabetes Awareness Month

Consider that while almost 30 million people in the U.S. have some form of diabetes, one in four don’t even realize they’re walking around with the disease. National Diabetes Month is an annual event each November to boost awareness about the risk factors, symptoms, and types of diabetes. If you’ve been recently diagnosed with either Type 1 or Type 2, or if you are considered pre-diabetic, hear the stories, check out the latest research, and connect with others who can help you on your journey to live a healthier life.

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Finding Your Way to Well-being

Self-care can take many forms. At its core, it’s about doing things that support and nourish your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health and well-being. This is especially true when it comes to managing stress. It’s about being in tune with what you need to take care of YOU.

One way to thrive more is with consistent self-care practices. These may change over time or even daily. The key is to consistently do something daily. Here are some ways you may choose to practice self-care:

  • Take a walk or hike
  • Meditate
  • Read for pleasure
  • Keep a journal
  • Make time for friends
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Listen to calming music
  • Make sleep a priority
  • Make time for health care appointments

To get a jump start on setting up daily self-care activities, use a monthly calendar to record your efforts. Intentionally set aside time within your day to:

Be mindful – such as a gratitude journal or avoid doing other things while eating to become a mindful eater

Move more – like getting up from your desk to take a walk break or track your steps

Nourish your body – bringing healthy snacks to work and avoid overeating at night

Sleep well – use ear plugs, a fan, or a white noise machine to block out disruptive nighttime noise

Whether they suit you on a daily or you commit to them once a month, make it a priority to add them to your routine to help yourself feel better, whenever.


“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m possible.” – Audrey Hepburn, American Actor

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