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Winter Wonderland

Ron Shelton of Corvallis and his dog, Grizzly, enjoy a quiet morning walk through a winter wonderland in Hamilton's River Park in this file photo. 

(This story was included in the Ravalli Republic's Winter Recreation publication that was included in Sunday's newspaper. Copies are available at the Ravalli Republic office.) 

The holidays are coming and with it comes short, cold days. Every place we visit seems to offer a unique beverage or treat that packs sugar and calories. As time availability becomes impacted by social events, physical activity seems to move to the bottom of the to-do list.

Learn how WINter Wellness can encourage you to keep active this winter. The 2nd Annual WINter Wellness runs November 20-February 20, 2020 and is a free health incentive program with MSU Ravalli County Extension.

The program may sound familiar as Katelyn Andersen, MSU Extension Agent for Ravalli County, has coordinated other health incentive programs in the valley called Bike, Walk, Roll & WIN during the spring for the last three years. WINter Wellness started last winter in response to participant feedback and a way to increase physical activity throughout the calendar year.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), only half of adults get the physical activity they need to help reduce and prevent chronic diseases. About six in 10 adults live with a chronic disease and four in 10 adults have two or more. Examples of chronic diseases include heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. Every year, $117 billion in health care costs are associated with inadequate physical activity.

The benefits of physical activity for adults include: lower risk of high blood pressure, lower risk of stroke, improved aerobic fitness, improved mental health, improved cognitive function, reduced arthritis symptoms, and prevent weight gain.

From the longitudinal study and self-reporting from the WINter Wellness, participants reported an increase in physical activity, social ties to the community and mental health.

These statistics are strong reasons to add a little more movement in your life.

Incentive program details

Every time an adult, 18 and older, engages in physical activity, they are eligible for a self-reported entry in the program. The entries are for health-focused prizes donated by community businesses.

In as little as 22 minutes a day, adults can meet the recommendations of 150-300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity a week, preferably spread throughout the week. Plus, muscle-strengthening activities that include all the muscle groups on two or more days a week. Brisk walking (2.5 miles/hour or faster), active forms of yoga, line dancing, and yard work are examples of moderate-intensity. Running and hiking uphill are examples of vigorous-intensity.

The physical activity eligible for WINter Wellness could occur at home with led by a DVD or app, outside on the ski hill, at the gym with a kickboxing class, or even yoga. The minimum amount of minutes to enter is a 10-minute episode of physical activity.

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If you have young family members, such as children or grandchildren, keep in mind that they need more physical activity than adults. Youth (age 6 to 17 years old) should do 60 minutes or more of physical activity daily and should include aerobic (playing basketball, walking the dog), muscle-strengthening (chores or jobs that require lifting or moving objects), bone-strengthening (Pilates or running), and stretching/flexibility (simple stretching or yoga).

Health education opportunities

In addition to self-reporting entries, Ravalli County residents can attend free health classes offered by MSU Extension in partnership with community businesses and individuals, which currently include:

*Principals of Mindfulness with Michelle Grocke, Ph.D., 7 PM on Wednesday, December 4 at the Hamilton Performing Arts Center, Hamilton.

*Bitterroot Sound Healing Session with Bella Marie, 6:30- 8 PM on Tuesday, December 17 at the Center for Spiritual Living, Hamilton.

These classes are free and open to the public; no pre-registration is required to attend.

Check out the prizes.

MSU Extension-Ravalli County appreciates the support of many local partners who help build connections in the wider community and also enhance the health of the individuals that live, work and play in Ravalli County.

In addition to better health, businesses and individuals have contributed prizes: Six-visit yoga pass from Aspen Leaf Yoga; Bee Happy Honey Basket from Bee Happy Honey; $50 gift card to Chamber businesses from Bitterroot Chamber of Commerce; $25 credit for adult education class from Bitterroot College Continuing Education Program; one-hour sound healing session from Bitterroot Sound Healing – Bella Marie; $25 Gift Certificate (6 winners) from Bouilla; deluxe cabin for one night from Camp Sula; Grogory Targhee 32L Backpack from Corvallis Physical Therapy; one cranial sacral therapy session from Cranial Sacral Therapy, LLC - Jody Mohoff, CST-D; half season CSA share from Cultivating Connections; two tickets to Crab Fest 2020 and Wine Fest 2020 from Hamilton Downtown Association; $30 credit for adult education class from Heart of the Valley Adult Education; two tickets to opening of Clue from Hamilton Players; one hour of personal training from Health by Heidi; essential oil infused winter wellness goodie basket from Healthy Connections; vintage postcard for every participant from Hidden Treasurers; 1/2 hour massage (two winners) from Judy Banks, LMT; private x-country ski lesson from Ken and Patrice Loucks; two adult ski lift tickets from Lost Trail Ski Area; health goodie basket from New Horizons Physical Therapy; Trailbuddy trekking poles and ALPS Mountaineering 3-Person tent from Ravalli County Federal Credit Union; certificate for a child bike helmet (2 winners!) from Ravalli County Public Health Department; one introductory heart math session from Step Stone - Becki Koon; punch card for five yoga sessions from Tipi Rock Yoga & Massage Therapy; $25 gift certificate to Runner’s Edge; and two hours of personal training from Wendy Davis Training.

Everyone has different reasons for getting physically active. To learn more about the free WINter Wellness health incentive program, check out the website ravalli.msuextension.org/healthandwellness.html or visit the Extension Office, 215 S. 4th Street, Hamilton or 375-6611.

Questions or comments can be directed to MSU/Ravalli Co. Extension, 215 S. 4th Street Ste G, Hamilton, MT 59840, 375-6611. If you are interested in attending or hosting an educational workshop on this topic, please contact the office.

Katelyn Andersen, M.S., is an Associate Professor for Montana State University Extension. She serves as the 4-H/Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent for Ravalli County.

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