Keep your kids active this summer

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By Sarah Maninga, TCHC Athletic Trainer


Mother and daughters hula hooping outdoorsSummer. The season we all patiently wait for in Minnesota is here! Now that it’s finally upon us, you may be asking yourself, “How can I keep my kids active and fit while they are out of school for the summer?”

If you enjoy community activities, check out your local Chamber of Commerce, city website or school district for possible ideas.

Tri-County also hosts area events. Our Bertha Area Wellness Center 5K Fun Run/Walk is July 7. It includes a 5K and a youth 1K. We’re also hosting our annual Block Party on July 18. There will be free food, music, kids’ games, a bike rodeo and more.

You can find more information about these events and more here.

If you think organized events may not be for you and your kiddos, or maybe you’re spending your summer at the lake, don’t worry. There are plenty of activities you can do yourself. Most of them don’t require any supplies either!

Here are just a handful of ideas:

  • Plan a scavenger hunt in the yard. Give the kids a time limit and have the kids look for caterpillars, ants, leaves, rocks.
  • Play hopscotch
  • Water balloon baseball
  • Hula hoop
  • Make activity dice
  • Play activities such as wiggle like a worm, crab walk and hop like a frog.

The above are great ideas for younger kids, but what about the older kids and teenagers? Mother and kids hiking through a forest.

One great summer activity is hiking. Itasca State Park is just a short drive away and provides miles of hiking trails, as well as biking trails.

Another great option is geocaching, which is a large scavenger hunt for adults and kids that utilizes a GPS. It’s as easy as downloading the app on your phone, and then you’re ready to start searching.

You can also have them check out the local parks that have Frisbee golf. The only thing you need is a Frisbee to enjoy a whole afternoon of fun.

Now that your kids are out and about and staying active, don’t forget about the sunscreen, bug spray and keeping them hydrated.

Have a great summer, and I hope you get a chance to try some of these ideas to keep everyone active this summer!


Sarah ManingaAbout the Author: Sarah Maninga has been an athletic trainer at TCHC since January 2015. She works with athletes at three area schools: Wadena Deer Creek, Sebeka and Menahga. During her time off, she enjoys spending her time with her husband on their small farm and doing anything that involves being outside, especially hunting and running.

You too can bring home the GOLD!

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By: David Kloss

A triathlon is a fun way to stay active and meet people. It can be a great excuse to travel places you might never go to otherwise, and it gives you an excuse to eat a little bit healthier, to get more sleep at night (a definite health bonus!) and to stay active!

Do I have you hooked in yet? No? Well I was (and still am) a skinny011_09A, nonathletic computer science nerd, who began running tiny little races in medical school in order to socialize with my classmates. Years later a friend “suckered” me in to doing a short “mini” triathlon in a tiny muddy local lake in Connecticut. IT WAS FUN! Sound crazy? No it isn’t! The people at the little local triathlons are fun people, they are full of life, they are happy people to hang around with and the more races you do, the more you learn and the better you get! You feel more alive just like the other people at these races! You can’t help yourself, but feel better about life and about yourself, even if you come in dead last at every race you enter!

“How can it be fun if I come in last?” you ask? I can promise you the crowds will cheer WAY LOUDER for you, the last racer to cross the finish line, than they do for the first person who wins! Everyone at these small races respects you for being there and “just doin’ it”!!!

My first race was 20 years ago now. I still remember running (a 3-mile run at the end of ¼ mile swim and 12-mile bike ride) as hard as I could towards the last mile. I could hear the 10,000 people in the Olympic stadium chanting my name and shouting “USA!” at the top of their voices. The runner from Russia was only 10 yards in front of me…… I could pass him…. The Gold medal within my grasp! He and I fought neck and neck sprinting as hard as we could the last half mile into the finish chute. In the end, he beat me by about 10 feet. The ordinary guy (the “Russian” who I was competing against) who had beat me, turned around and shook my hand. “Thanks for pushing me” he said. Our little mental imaginary Olympics were over for this week. But we had such great fun competing against each other that last mile!

So why is a triathlon (and today I am speaking mostly about the mini-triathlons) so much fun?
This is a sport that doesn’t require super hard training. It doesn’t require super expensive equipment. This is a sport that doesn’t “beat you up” so badly you can’t work the next day! It is fun because you are outside being active and hanging around like-minded people!

What is the training like?

bike pic 2007 musselmanTriathlon combines swimming, biking and running in a variety of different distances. The distances depend upon the race type. A mini-tri is usually a quarter mile swim, 10-15 mile bike ride and 2-5 mile run. Each town will have their own special “flavor” of this race.

An Olympic distance race is 0.9 mile swim (about 68 lengths of the standard pool), a 25-mile bike ride and a six-mile run. Longer distance races include the Half Iron Man race and the “Full Iron”. The Iron Man race is 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile marathon. You can tell an Iron Man vehicle by the “140.6” bumper sticker on their cars! Look for it, honk at them and give a “thumbs up” as you pass!

Of course, the training for a full Iron Man is more intense. But for a mini triathlon, you can spend a little bit of time in your local pool or lake practice gentle swimming. You can practice perhaps once or twice a week (depending upon how good of a natural swimmer you are). A quarter mile swim is 16 lengths of the standard pool. Can’t swim even two lengths? Well, with gentle, slow, persistent practice YOU WILL GET THERE! I did! The 10-mile bike ride can be done in an hour or so. For the first timer, be sure you know your bike is in good working order! Check the tires! Check the brakes!! Make sure your seat is comfortable. Remember, the idea is NOT TO WIN, but to FINIIMG_0541SH!

The hardest part of triathlon is called “T2” (the transition from the bike to the run). It takes a few tries on a Saturday morning, or  a Thursday night, to practice getting off the bike (your legs are a little bit tired) and then to take off jogging! It is OK to walk! But you will find as you practice this once or twice, your body will respond! That is known as conditioning! YOU ARE NOW AN ATHLETE! Keep practicing! Don’t give up! You will slowly get better and stronger (like the bionic man from the 70’s TV show!)
Tri-Wadena Reg Form Art 0216

Here in Wadena, on June 18, starting at the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center (aka The Mas) you will have your chance to take home the GOLD medal! “TRIWADENA, No Spandex Necessary” is our extra small, mini-triathlon geared especially for beginners! Check out our website, and then call the MAS to register! Your kids and family will be impressed! And most importantly you will have fun!

Keep Calm


I’ll see you at the starting line on June 18, at 8:30 a.m. at the Maslowski Wellness & Research Center in Wadena!

David Kloss

Is Walking Good for You?

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Is walking good for you? This question seems so simple, yet you may be wondering why I am asking a question that appears to have an obvious answer.

Obesity is soaring in this country and around the world. Generally speaking, we are eating unhealthy food and we are exercising less.  In this country the Internet is king! Television comes in a close second and for kids, the Sony Play station or XBOX occupies the central part of their attention.  But as electronic entertainment occupies more and more of our free time and our jobs become less physical, obesity and all the resulting devastating health issues are destroying our bodies.

You may be asking by now – who cares if people are fat and isn’t it okay to be overweight? No matter how much we pretend obesity is “okay” in today’s world, the reality is that the health of our bodies is negatively impacted by the extra weight. Obesity increases the likelihood we will need major joint replacement surgery, it increases the risks of minor surgery and it increases their chances of having colon cancer and/or breast cancer – not to mention issues with high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia and vascular disease, heart disease, stroke, depression and immobility.

Are you rolling your eyes yet or saying to yourself, “obesity can’t be ALL that bad”. If so, you would be seriously wrong.  Hundreds of research papers studying thousands upon thousands of people have proven with GREAT statistical power that obesity negatively impacts ALL of these health factors.

Well, so what? Obesity may be a bad thing, but WHAT can we do about it? Our jobs are mostly desk jobs. Kids love to play video games. Hardly any of us work on a farm anymore doing the hard physical labor our grandparents did each day.  Kids don’t run around at gym class any more. What can be done to reduce obesity in this country and improve each of our health?

Senior Chinese Couple Walking In Park

In 2013, the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine published a study that included 355 people who walked about 10,000 steps a day. These researchers clearly documented a five point drop in the systolic blood pressure in the hypertensive patients.

How about in young people? Can something as BORING as walking help them? A study of 100 healthy young volunteers was published in the journal of Applied Physiology and Nutritional Metabolism. They monitored their activity with pedometers. But, instead of encouraging them to walk more, they RESTRICTED their walking to less than 5,000 steps per day and measured their body’s response to this inactivity. How did their body react? They were able to prove a worsening tendency towards diabetes, a higher percentage of fat in the body and worsening blood cholesterol levels.

Do you want more proof that walking is good for you? In 2012, the American College of Sports Medicine published a paper documenting improved BMI, adiposity index AND lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes with 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week.  They also showed it does NOT have to be 30 minutes of heart pounding, sweat-rolling-of- your-face, short-of-breath-so-bad-you-can’t-talk exercise!  No, just doing the 30 minutes a day of walking will give you these health benefits. No medication necessary! No side effects! No insurance co-pay for your anti-hypertensive medication! You just have to walk!

But Dr. Kloss, you ask, do I really have to walk five miles or 10,000 steps a day? Well, if you want to get the maximum benefit, yes. However, it has also been studied that ANYTHING you do to increase your physical activity during the day will help your health.  For instance, if you buy a pedometer and record your steps each day and find you are walking about 5000 steps each day with NORMAL activity, that’s a great base line! Now, take that information and walk a little more each day.

iStock_000035490740_LargeFor example, instead of parking right up front in a parking lot, park in the back corner and walk to the entrance of the store. You will increase you daily step count up to 6,000 steps each day. Gradually, you will increase your step count and your activity. Everything you do to increase your activity and step count will help improve your weight, your blood pressure and your cardiovascular health.  So don’t be put off by the idea of 10,000 steps – any progress is good progress!

Now many articles and research papers have studied walking and health.  How many steps are necessary to be healthy? (Answer: More than 7,500 steps.) Do post-menopausal woman benefit from walking? (Answer: Yes, menopausal woman DO benefit from walking at least 8000 steps a day.)  Are there other health benefits from walking other than just reducing obesity?  (Answer: YES, walking helps reduce your blood pressure, elevate your mood and reduce your risk of diabetes and of needing insulin injections).


Suggestions I have to help you keep your fitness goals:

  • Keep a journal of your walking.
  • Write down your goals.
  • Buy a pedometer and use it to help document your success.
  • When the weather is bad (bad weather here in Wadena?) don’t forget the indoor track at the WDC high school and the Maslowski Wellness Center.

REMEMBER, you have to walk for 30 minutes AND you have to stick with it! You can’t quit after just four weeks!  Like anything in our lives worth achieving, it is worth working for! So on some days you won’t feel like walking. You won’t feel like getting off the sofa … BUT JUST DO IT! (Thanks to NIKE for their slogan). You will reap the health benefits if you stick with it!

Just walk! It’s cheap. It’s easy. And it works!!!


David Kloss-3About the Author:

Dr. Kloss is a board certified general surgeon at Tri-County Health Care. In his free time, Dr. Kloss is an avid marathon runner. His race resume includes the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington D.C., as well as, marathons in Dublin, Ireland; Paris, France; and Pittsburgh Marathon. He has also ran the Twin Cities Marathon for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the best marathon of all – the New York City marathon for the American Cancer Society. Dr. Kloss has also earned Ironman status having completed the Madison, Wisconsin Ironman race in 2014. All this running helps Dr. Kloss control his weight so he can eat cookies WHENEVER he wants.

His advice to others who want to be healthy:
  • Slow and steady improvement will get you were you want to go.
  • Watch what you eat.
  • Stay active
  • Get to bed earlier
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol. 
Dr. Kloss started out as a self-proclaimed “skinny computer nerd” who stands firmly by his statement, “IF I CAN DO IT, YOU CAN DO IT!”. 






Sunnybrook Stomp – how I went from being a spectator to winning a 5k!

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By Kris Anderson – Quality & Privacy Manager

Growing up I was a member of my track team, but only competed in short-to- medium distance races. After I finished school, I got married and had three children. I went from competing in sports to now sitting in the bleachers cheering for my children at their sporting events. When I saw an e-mail about a program that our wellness committee, Healthy by Choice, was beginning, it peaked my interest because I had been thinking about getting back into running. It was a  running program called, “Couch to 5K”. At the end of the nine-week training program we could all race in the Sunnybrook Stomp 5K. I thought it would be a great opportunity to challenge my current exercise routine (which includes “Blaine’s Boot Camp” at the Bertha Area Wellness Center) and myself! A 5K is something I never thought I would do. Though I consider myself an active person, I had never challenged myself like this before.

The group started in mid-April and was led by Rachel Amiot, the wellness coordinator at the Bertha Area Wellness

Kris receiving her award for winning her age group at the Sunnybrook Stomp 5K.

Kris receiving her award for winning her age group at the Sunnybrook Stomp 5K.

Center. She taught us some great tips about long-distance running. What was also nice about the weekly group is that I got to meet employees from all different departments.

I knew if I signed up for something then I would be committed and would want to finish the program. There are days where I found myself dragging. I’m like so many people who work at a desk all day. Mentally, I’m tired at the end the day. Those are the moments that you never want to exercise. But the truth is, you always feel better after you exercise! You could tell as the weeks went on it became easier. It’s surprising how far you can really progress and how you can feel physically stronger in just nine weeks.

Kris racing to the finish line!

Kris racing to the finish line!

My goal was to run the entire 5K race. This last Friday I accomplished my goal of running the whole way and I won my age group! I was surprised and shocked! Running 3.1 miles is a long way, but I did it.

I’ve also put September 26 on my calendar and am planning to do the Princess Warrior 5K Run, Walk, Roll, Stroll or Crawl, with proceeds going to childhood cancer. It’s a great way to keep myself motivated and run for a great cause. If I don’t sign myself up for it…I know that I would talk myself right out of it or find something else to fill my schedule. When I had running club on Mondays I committed to running and it was reserved on my calendar.

Want to join Kris at other 5K races this summer? Here is a list of some local 5K’s coming up…

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About the Author: Kris Anderson is a longtime resident of Hewitt, MN and has worked for Tri-County Health Care for more than 30 years. In her current position, she is the Quality & Privacy Manager and works to ensure the hospital is ready for surveys, that patient’s records are kept confidential and manages Medical Staff credentialing and privileging. She has three children, five grandchildren and enjoys going to the lake and spending time with her family.