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Pierce, St. Croix counties rank among Top 10 healthiest in state

March 4, 2010

Pierce and St. Croix County both placed in the top 10 of the National County Health Rankings for 2010, according to a media release from Pierce County Public Health Director Sue Galoff.

Pierce County finished 7th and St. Croix finished 2nd within the state of Wisconsin. “The healthiest of Wisconsin’s 72 counties are largely suburban counties near the city of Milwaukee and on the border with the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area,” according to the media release.

Alice Reilly-Myklebust, the director of Career, Counseling and Student Health Services at UW-River Falls, explained that the University has many surveys that they give to students in order to collect data on things such as drug and alcohol use, physical activity, mental health and many other topics.

The role of Student Health Services is to provide health and mental health services. There are four licensed counselors available to students at no charge, according to Reilly-Myklebust.

The Wellness Challenge is currently going on, where people can form teams or compete individually. There are prizes for individuals or teams with the most points. However, they also have random drawing to give away prizes to anyone competing.

“Anybody who is trying to improve their health, we want them to have the option to win something,” Reilly-Myklebust said.

UWRF offers many programs in order for students to improve their overall health and wellness. Classes and sessions that are offered on a weekly basis include: advanced Tai Chi, yoga, zumba, art remedy, meditation and beginner Tai Chi. Relaxation open houses are also offered the first Tuesday of every month.

There are also events coming up, such as the health fair on April 14 and “Cruise Through Finals” on May 10, to encourage students to improve their health and wellness.
UWRF has been asked to be part of the St. Croix ad Pierce County findings, according to Reilly-Myklebust. There is a free clinic in the area and it is also available to students.

“The county looks at the same things we’re looking at with our students,” Reilly-Myklebust said.

UWRF continues to do what they can in order to work with students to help improve their overall health.

Shauna Knott, the wellness coordinator at the River Falls Area Hospital (RFAH), has a theory as to why metropolitan areas are the healthiest.

“I believe that counties in closer proximity to larger metropolitan areas attract people to try new hobbies and sports that smaller and/or rural communities may not be able to offer,” Knott said. “For example, St. Paul boasts a curling club … [that] may entice residents to travel 25 miles to try their hand at a new hobby.”

The RFAH has a fitness center that many older members utilize as a safe venue for them to stay active and learn new skills, Knott explained.

“We offer a variety of fitness classes, such as Tai Chi and Yoga, that expand flexibility and agility, and helps to build up balance and prevent falls,” Knott said.

Knott explained that while the healthiest counties are in metropolitan areas, she does not believe that wealth or class have any impact on their ability to stay healthy.

“I feel that those people who are committed to a healthy lifestyle will find the way and means to support that lifestyle, regardless of class status or wealth,” Knott said. “Yes, it may cost some money to join a gym, but people can easily invest in some dumbbell weights, a jump rope or a yoga mat and stay fit at home, spending less money.”

Libraries also offer DVDs and fitness book selections, and the Internet offers many podcasts and other tools to learn at home.

“With the economy in the condition it is,” Knott said, “staying fit at home with your family or making a healthy meal versus eating out is a great way to connect with your family and try something new.”