Virginia Extension Agent Cristin Sprenger on health and wealth

Hello! My name is Cristin Sprenger and I am an Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences. Today I’m going to talk about taking small steps to improve your health and wealth.

Almost everyone, except for the most desperately ill and poor, can do something to improve their health and finances. That’s where a “small steps” approach is so useful. Anything you do to improve your health and/or accumulate wealth is a step in the right direction. No step is too small to get started and you can never be too early or too late.

Virginia Cooperative Extension offers Small Steps to Health and Wealth™ (SSHW), designed to help people simultaneously improve their health and personal finances. This award winning program was developed by Extension Specialists at Rutgers Cooperative Extension. Each year, millions of Americans resolve to get healthier (e.g., lose weight) and wealthier (e.g., increase savings). This is not surprising because health and personal finance “issues” affect millions of people.

Widely reported issues in recent years include an increasing incidence of diabetes, more overweight and obese adults and children, low household savings rates, and high household debt. Many people are overweight and have few financial resources and they are looking for a way to both live healthier lives and achieve financial security. The core of SSHW is 25 behavior change strategies that can be applied to health and personal finances. Think of these strategies like a menu in a diner or restaurant. You can’t possibly try everything so you’ll pick strategies that mesh best with your income, goals, and lifestyle.

Take time to celebrate small steps along your path to self-improvement. Research has shown that people don’t need to lose a massive amount of weight to see improvements in health. A modest loss of just 5 to 7 percent of body weight (10 to 14 pounds for someone weighing 200 pounds) helps a lot. Ditto for small financial improvements such as saving $2 a day, plus pocket change. In a year, you would have about $1,000 saved…compared to nothing, if you do nothing. Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

Here are some questions to ponder:

How could you cut 100 calories per day to lose 10 pounds in a year? What are some realis-tic strategies that you could implement?

How could you save $3 per day to save $1,000 in a year? What are some realistic strategies that you could implement?

Where do you start? Make a list of five ways that health and personal finances are directly related in your life. Then make a list (or even better, take a picture!) of your health goals and your wealth goals. What do you want to accomplish? Explore the SSHW website: You can find more information about the 25 strategies. Remember, small changes can add up to be big rewards! Sign up for a class or online challenge by calling your local office of Virginia Cooperative Extension at 540-468-2225 or 540-839-7261.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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