Countdown to runDisney Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2017: Cigna’s Components of a Successful Training Program

Can more sleep make you faster? How about cross-training?

#ForReals If there’s one thing I want more of (next to money, let’s be real here…) it’s sleep!  And cross-training can definitely help with running burn-out.

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Antonio, a Cigna Health Coach, shares tips with us to help you catch your zzz’s.

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How Catching Zzzs Gets You Speed

Can more sleep make you faster? When you consider that the central nervous system is a main component of speed, sleep maybe the most overlooked aspect of speed training.

During your training you’ll begin to notice improvements. You’re running longer (duration), further (distance) and faster. This means your body is adapting to your training program. But did you know that some of this adapting takes place while you sleep? While you’re asleep, your body uses information from past runs to develop motor learning behavior. How long and fast were your strides?  How was your breathing and other factors, like temperature, during your better workouts?

Over time, your central nervous system learns what muscles will produce the most efficient movement. This will ultimately lead to you mastering these movements.

Think of when you first started to ride a bike. You may have had difficulty just balancing on two wheels and fell quite a few times. After countless hours of trying, you went home and later, you went to sleep.

While you were asleep, your mind replayed your actions. It downloaded everything that worked and didn’t work while you tried to ride the bike. After a good night’s rest (about 7-8 hours for an adult) you set out to ride the bike again. This time, you were ahead of the game. Your body recognized all the pitfalls from yesterday and adapted. You were able to balance without falling and moved on to the next phase of bike riding. Then you had another good night’s sleep and repeated the cycle of motor learning.

Catching your Zzzs can be important to becoming faster.

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Briane Agostinelli, A Cigna Health Advocate, shares tips (and her personal experience) of the benefits of cross-training.

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Is There More to Running Than Just Running?

As a runner, have you ever consider that there may be a better type of exercise?  What if I told you that by running less, you have the potential to run faster and reduce your risk for injury?

The answer is cross-training. It’s a phrase that gets used a lot, but what does it mean?

Cross-training mixes several forms of exercise, including aerobics, and strength and flexibility training.  Exercises are done at different levels of intensity to maintain a high level of fitness. By varying the stress placed on specific muscles, you can enhance performance and reduce your risk for injuries.

Six benefits of cross-training

  • Improved skills, agility, speed and balance
  • Increased strength and flexibility
  • Greater aerobic fitness by including nonimpact aerobic exercise in your routine to develop other muscles without increasing your risk for injury
  • Injury prevention
  • Runner’s injuries are frequently caused by instability or inadequate strength. With strength training and stretching, these injuries  may be greatly reduced.
  • Variety and flexibility to your routine
  • Reducing boredom, burnout, and if there is a change in plans you and your workout can adjust

Types of exercises to include

  • Aerobic: Running, swimming, biking, rowing, jump rope, hiking, stair climbing
  • Strength training: Calisthenics (push-ups, crunches and pull-ups), free weights, machines
  • Flexibility: Stretching, yoga, using a foam roller
  • Skill conditioning: Sprinting, agility, plyometric and balance drills

My personal experience

For my first marathon, I ran five days a week. I did minimal strength training and other forms of aerobic training. Then I signed up for my next marathon with a new mind-set to run less and cross-train more. By incorporating cross-training, I was able to avoid injury and improve my marathon time by 47 minutes – from 4:24 to 3:37.

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Cigna Health Coaches

  • Antonio Williams, M.S., NASM, P.E.S, Health Engagement Consultant
  • Brittany Onufrak, MS, CWP, Cigna Health Educator, Consumer Health Engagement

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Resources

This is intended to be general health information and not medical advice or services. You should consult your doctor for medical advice or services, including seeking advice before undertaking a new diet or exercise program.

Thanks for following along –

Perfectly Goofy Gail
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Cigna_logo4How does running fit into your overall heath strategy?  Do you get enough sleep and/or cross-training?

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @RunAllTheRaces, Instagram @RunAllTheRaces, and like us on Facebook/runalltheraces.

Any questions, please reach out to us at runalltheraces@yahoo.com.  We’re happy to help!

Have you checked out our Podcast?  Give us a listen and let us know what you think: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/run-all-the-races/id1078046216?mt=2

Perfectly Goofy Gail, Delightful Dopey Kimberly, PhotoBomb Becca & California Kiley

COUNTDOWN TO NEXT runDisney RACE WEEKEND: Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Day(s)

:

Hour(s)

:

Minute(s)

:

Second(s)

Meet Perfectly Goofy Gail
Perfectly Goofy Gail's 100th runDisney medal!

Perfectly Goofy Gail's 100th runDisney medal!

Perfectly Goofy Gail began getting active in 2005 with the goal of getting out of the house and loosing some weight... more

Meet Delightfully Dopey Kimberly
Thank you @runDisney for 7 years, 74 races, 102 medals and 708.2 magical miles!

Thank you @runDisney for 7 years, 74 races, 102 medals and 708.2 magical miles!

Delightfully Dopey Kimberly began running in 2008 with the single goal of crossing “running a marathon” off her bucket list... more

Meet PhotoBomb Becca
We don't call her PhotoBomb Becca for nothing...

We don't call her PhotoBomb Becca for nothing...

PhotoBomb Becca...more

Meet California Kiley
Disneyland Diamond Anniversary Minnie

Disneyland Diamond Anniversary Minnie

California Kiley as you can probably guess hails from sunny Southern California... more

SPONSORED BY

SPONSORED BY

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#ThrowbackThursday: Cigna’s Partnership with runDisney

#ThrowbackThursday: Cigna’s Partnership with runDisney

Cigna_logo4

Did you know that Cigna is the major sponsor of both the runDisney Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekends? They are more than just a name and logo on the back our race shirts…

Your health is a MAJOR REWARD...make sure you are in training to take of yourself - AND your family.

Your health is a MAJOR AWARD…make sure you are in training to take of yourself – AND your family.

Why does Cigna sponsor runDisney events?

The Walt Disney World Marathon and Disneyland Half Marathon Weekends are both blue ribbon events that combine fun, family and physical activity in a magical way. Cigna is intently focused on helping people improve their health and well-being.  Presenting this event with Disney enables us to reach thousands of people and celebrate their efforts to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Cheers to healthy choices!

Cheers to healthy choices!

We live our mission. Cigna runners participate in all the races. And we invite all runners and guests to visit the Cigna booth at the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo and Family Reunion Area tent for healthy lifestyle information, giveaways and activities.

Cigna understands that meeting a fitness milestone — whether it’s running a race for the first time or meeting personal race goals at any length — is cause for celebration. And Cigna is proud to help runners of all ages celebrate the magic of health at the Walt Disney World Marathon andDisneyland Half Marathon Weekends.

Rooted in the strong tradition of insurance, Cigna defines health as more than the absence of sickness. To us, health is intertwined with a sense of well-being and security. Our relationship with the people we serve goes deeper than coverage and claims.

It’s about understanding the obstacles people face in trying to lead a healthier life, then helping them overcome those barriers and change their habits.

It’s about understanding that healthier people are more productive, enjoy a better quality of life and lower costs for everyone within the health care system.

And it’s about understanding how health, life, accident and disability coverage work together to meet people’s emotional, physical and financial needs – for a lifetime.

Whether people are having babies… getting in shape… running a marathon… managing a chronic disease… overcoming illness or injury… or just coping with life… we are at their side, around the world, helping them improve their health and well-being.

Preparing to Race with runDisney and Cigna:

  • Ready, set, run. At Cigna, we’re always looking for ways to help you achieve healthy goals that matter most to you. That’s why we applaud your commitment to run in your first race or train to meet a running goal. We understand that each of you will prepare for these races in your own way, but also want to offer some general tips so you can finish strong!
  • Check in with your doctor. Whether you’re an experienced runner or this is your first time trying a long distance run, it’s a good idea to get a health assessment before you begin a training program. If you have any issues, like arthritis or an old sports injury, talking with your doctor about your plans is a safe and practical approach.
  • Make a plan. Before you hit the pavement or purchase equipment, you should educate yourself on all aspects of half marathon and full marathon training and find a training plan that fits into your schedule.
  • Invest in the proper running equipment. Two long distance running essentials are clothes and running shoes. Before you buy, have an idea about the best shoe for your foot and running style. Comfort is key to any running program.
  • Make eating right a priority. Fuel your body with a healthy diet. The foods you ingest play a vital role in your body’s performance. The better you eat, the better your body will perform.
  • Have fun. Enjoyment is a great motivator. If you’re not having fun, you’re less likely to follow through with your training program. Recruit your friends and family to support you and help you train. And congratulate yourself on every victory, no matter how small.

Check out additional articles from Cigna’s experts here.

And here are some of our RunAllTheRaces Cigna Greatest Hits posts:

Stay tuned – we’re headed to the 2017 Disneyland Half Marathon Cigna Blogger and Social Media Meet-Up in a few weeks.  We can’t wait to share all this year’s fun with you!

Thanks for following along –

Perfectly Goofy Gail
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Me and the Big Cheese!

Me and the Big Cheese!

Will we see you at the 2017 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend races?  Have you started working on your race costumes?..

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @RunAllTheRaces, Instagram @RunAllTheRaces, and like us on Facebook/runalltheraces.

Any questions, please reach out to us at runalltheraces@yahoo.com.  We’re happy to help!

Have you checked out our Podcast?  Give us a listen and let us know what you think: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/run-all-the-races/id1078046216?mt=2

Perfectly Goofy Gail, Delightful Dopey Kimberly, PhotoBomb Becca & California Kiley

COUNTDOWN TO NEXT runDisney RACE WEEKEND: Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Day(s)

:

Hour(s)

:

Minute(s)

:

Second(s)

Meet Perfectly Goofy Gail
Perfectly Goofy Gail's 100th runDisney medal!

Perfectly Goofy Gail's 100th runDisney medal!

Perfectly Goofy Gail began getting active in 2005 with the goal of getting out of the house and loosing some weight... more

Meet Delightfully Dopey Kimberly
Thank you @runDisney for 7 years, 74 races, 102 medals and 708.2 magical miles!

Thank you @runDisney for 7 years, 74 races, 102 medals and 708.2 magical miles!

Delightfully Dopey Kimberly began running in 2008 with the single goal of crossing “running a marathon” off her bucket list... more

Meet PhotoBomb Becca
We don't call her PhotoBomb Becca for nothing...

We don't call her PhotoBomb Becca for nothing...

PhotoBomb Becca...more

Meet California Kiley
Disneyland Diamond Anniversary Minnie

Disneyland Diamond Anniversary Minnie

California Kiley as you can probably guess hails from sunny Southern California... more

SPONSORED BY

SPONSORED BY

ARCHIVES

Race Report: 2017 Princess Glass Slipper Challenge – 10K

Race Report: 2017 Princess Glass Slipper Challenge – 10K

I was SUPER excited for the 2017 runDisney Princess 10K as we had gone ALL OUT.  We weren’t the only ones to come up with the

When in doubt, at least smile at the camera...

When in doubt, at least smile at the camera…

idea to run as the Enchanted Rose from Beauty & the Beast – but we did GO BIG.

We knew we’d pretty much be walking most the 10K as the GIANT roses we made for headpieces made running almost impossible.  Sometimes we sacrifice time for a really good costume, and we were pretty excited about these.

If you said hello to me on course and I didn't say anything back - SORRY!

If you said hello to me on course and I didn’t say anything back – SORRY!

Unfortunately, I woke up that morning NOT feeling rosey – at all.  It was actually good we were wearing green, as my face pretty much matched the color of our dresses.

I debated staying in bed, but we were signed up for the Glass Slipper Challenge – and I’m not one to give up the good bling.

I managed to drive California Kiley and I to the Epcot parking lot just in time to spread a little bit of joy on the pavement before heading the the corrals.

Needless to say, Kiley was having a blast – and I was NOT.

Phrases overheard on course:

  • Me: Hold my rose…HOLD MY ROSE! No really, I’m running behind that generator…
  • Kiley: Feeling any better? Me: Hold my rose…HOLD MY ROSE! No really, I’m running behind the character RV…
  • Kiley: Feeling any better? Me: Hold my rose…HOLD MY ROSE! No really, I’m running into that bathroom
    • Repeat for EVERY bathroom in Epcot
  • Kiley: (Running into one of the Epcot bathrooms) Ummm, the balloon ladies are coming. Are you almost done?  Me: If I throw up on the balloon ladies I bet it would slow them down…

Let’s just say THIS flower did her part to fertilize her fellow flowers ALL along the course…

Shame, as I really wanted to be able to take lots of photos in these costumes *sigh*  But you can TOTALLY tell I was not my cheerful self in ALL the runDisney PhotoPass Photos…#Winning

Thanks for following along –

Perfectly Goofy Gail
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OMG...are we done yet?...

OMG…are we done yet?…

Have you ever run a race sick?  Did you finish?

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @RunAllTheRaces, Instagram @RunAllTheRaces, and like us on Facebook/runalltheraces.

Any questions, please reach out to us at runalltheraces@yahoo.com.  We love hearing from our readers!

Have you checked out our Podcast?  Give us a listen and let us know what you think: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/run-all-the-races/id1078046216?mt=2

Perfectly Goofy Gail, Delightful Dopey Kimberly, PhotoBomb Becca & California Kiley

COUNTDOWN TO NEXT runDisney RACE WEEKEND: Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Day(s)

:

Hour(s)

:

Minute(s)

:

Second(s)

Meet Perfectly Goofy Gail
Perfectly Goofy Gail's 100th runDisney medal!

Perfectly Goofy Gail's 100th runDisney medal!

Perfectly Goofy Gail began getting active in 2005 with the goal of getting out of the house and loosing some weight... more

Meet Delightfully Dopey Kimberly
Thank you @runDisney for 7 years, 74 races, 102 medals and 708.2 magical miles!

Thank you @runDisney for 7 years, 74 races, 102 medals and 708.2 magical miles!

Delightfully Dopey Kimberly began running in 2008 with the single goal of crossing “running a marathon” off her bucket list... more

Meet PhotoBomb Becca
We don't call her PhotoBomb Becca for nothing...

We don't call her PhotoBomb Becca for nothing...

PhotoBomb Becca...more

Meet California Kiley
Disneyland Diamond Anniversary Minnie

Disneyland Diamond Anniversary Minnie

California Kiley as you can probably guess hails from sunny Southern California... more

SPONSORED BY

SPONSORED BY

ARCHIVES

2017 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend: Meet #TeamCigna – Angela Tiedeman #WDWMarathon

2017 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend: Meet #TeamCigna – Angela Tiedeman #WDWMarathon

As the ladies of RunAllTheRaces get ready for the 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon weekend presented by Cigna, we’re excited to share the inspirational stories of some of the members of #TeamCigna.
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     Angela Tiedemann, 30 years old from Belleville, IL,  is a health educator and health coach at Cigna whose passion is empowering angla-1others toward wellness. When she’s not helping others to achieve their health and fitness goals, Angela stays physically active and fit, and takes to the trails hiking with her husband, Dan Tiedemann. What her picture doesn’t show is Angela and her husband are heading into their third year of their journey with fertility issues. 
     Infertility is growing problem in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about 12% of women of childbearing age have fertility issues. The causes of infertility involve women and men about equally. 
     “This journey is very difficult for both of us. We’re learning a lot together—how to move through the ups and downs and stay hopeful. We both have to find ways to keep our spirits lifted when we are sad.”  
     Rescuing their three dogs and cat has helped rescue the Tiedemann’s spirits along with staying focused on their health through exercising and eating healthier.  
     “For me,” said Angela, “running helps me physically, mentally and emotionally whether listening to music to clear my mind or by helping me get focused on how to overcome a challenge that lies ahead.” Angela has been running since 2010 and completed several half marathons and four full marathons, including the marathon in Walt Disney World, a place that brings her a lot of joy. 
     This past fall, Angela bravely opened up to her community at Cigna by entering and to her surprise winning Cigna’s annual employee contest with her short essay on why she wants to run the Walt Disney World marathon presented by Cigna this January. Cigna sponsors the annual Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend as part of its mission to encourage healthier living for all people. Employees across the organization voted Angela the winner and on Sunday, January 8, Angela will run the Walt Disney World marathon. Cigna is providing travel expenses, race entry and day passes to the Disney parks for Angela and her husband who will be cheering her on every step of the way.  
     “I hesitated before hitting the send button on my contest submission this time because it is personal. But, by sharing my experience, angela-2I’ve connected with more people who are very supportive, and learned so much and felt so much better hearing others’ stories and journeys. It helps to know someone else has been in your shoes and knows exactly what it feels like. I hope I can also be a source of support for others struggling with fertility issues.” Angela is glad she opened up; many Cigna colleagues reached out to her because of the employee contest as a way to show their support. As part of her submission, she wrote: 
     “My husband and I have been trying to expand our family for over 2 years now unsuccessfully. This has been a very mentally, physically, and financially trying time for both of us. We recently went through our first unsuccessful round of IVF. This was very difficult for both of us. . . [To run the marathon in Walt Disney World] will be a great way to spend a fun-filled, uplifting weekend with my husband as we continue to try and stay positive in this process.”  
     After Angela crosses the finish line in Disney, she and her husband are looking forward to taking their journey one day at a time and being grateful for many positives in their life.  
     “Unfortunately, there are a lot of women struggling with infertility, and I know how difficult it can be. I remind myself to try my best to live one day at a time. And try to know there are a lot of people out there like me, and a lot of people out there who can provide support.” 

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Cigna_logo4Are you joining us and #TeamCigna for the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend?  What race(s) are you running?

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @RunAllTheRaces, Instagram @RunAllTheRaces, and like us on Facebook/runalltheraces.

Any questions, please reach out to us at runalltheraces@yahoo.com.  We love hearing from our readers!

Have you checked out our Podcast?  Give us a listen and let us know what you think: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/run-all-the-races/id1078046216?mt=2

Perfectly Goofy Gail, Delightful Dopey Kimberly, PhotoBomb Becca & California Kiley

COUNTDOWN TO NEXT runDisney RACE WEEKEND: Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Day(s)

:

Hour(s)

:

Minute(s)

:

Second(s)

Meet Perfectly Goofy Gail
Perfectly Goofy Gail's 100th runDisney medal!

Perfectly Goofy Gail's 100th runDisney medal!

Perfectly Goofy Gail began getting active in 2005 with the goal of getting out of the house and loosing some weight... more

Meet Delightfully Dopey Kimberly
Thank you @runDisney for 7 years, 74 races, 102 medals and 708.2 magical miles!

Thank you @runDisney for 7 years, 74 races, 102 medals and 708.2 magical miles!

Delightfully Dopey Kimberly began running in 2008 with the single goal of crossing “running a marathon” off her bucket list... more

Meet PhotoBomb Becca
We don't call her PhotoBomb Becca for nothing...

We don't call her PhotoBomb Becca for nothing...

PhotoBomb Becca...more

Meet California Kiley
Disneyland Diamond Anniversary Minnie

Disneyland Diamond Anniversary Minnie

California Kiley as you can probably guess hails from sunny Southern California... more

SPONSORED BY

SPONSORED BY

ARCHIVES

2017 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend: Meet #TeamCigna – Cathy Murdoch #WDWHalf

2017 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend: Meet #TeamCigna – Cathy Murdoch #WDWHalf

As the ladies of RunAllTheRaces get ready for the 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon weekend presented by Cigna, we’re excited to share the inspirational stories of some of the members of #TeamCigna.
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     Cathy Murdoch, 57 years old from Murphy, Texas, is a nurse case manager at Cigna, a global health services company, who is looking forward to celebrating a new milestone along her own health journey this January by participating in her first Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend half marathon. As a result of winning Cigna’s annual employee contest, Cathy and her husband’s travel expenses and race entries are provided by Cigna.
     Like many Americans, heart disease runs in Cathy’s family. Her mother died of a stroke before the age of 64. Cathy has managed a diagnosis of hypertension for several years with medication. Two years ago when her grandson, Tommy, was born with Down Syndrome, is when she decided to make her health a priority and get fit to help Tommy and their family face the struggles that lie ahead. This fall, as her grandson took his first steps, Cathy took her first steps training for her first Walt Disney World half marathon. 
     “I want to be able to show Tommy that anything is possible with determination, perseverance, hard work and a little pixie dust. If this 57-year old out of shape grandmother can stick with a goal to complete a half marathon, I believe anyone is capable of making changes in their life. It is better to finish last, than to never have started.” 
     To help her reach her goals, Cathy partnered with a Cigna health coach through Cigna’s Healthy Living program. Together, they created a personalized program to help Cathy increase her strength and stamina, set goals, as well as mentored her on ways to incorporate healthier habits and provided encouragement to help her stay motivated. 
     “Tommy inspired me to make a change. My first steps were working with a Cigna Health Coach. As of today I am doing a walk/run program two to three times a week, plus a long walk/run on the weekend, totaling 10 miles a week.” 
     Last summer, Cathy entered Cigna’s annual employee contest for the opportunity to participate in the Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna. To complete the Disney half marathon has been Cathy’s dream since visiting Disney World with her family ten years ago. Cigna employees across the organization voted Cathy a winner and on Saturday, January 7, Cathy and her husband will participate in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend half marathon.  
     “When I run the half marathon in Disney World, I’ll have my supporters in front of me showing me the way, alongside me encouraging me, and behind me to help push me through those tough times. It’s a great feeling to know you have all these people supporting you!”
     After she crosses the finish line at Disney, Cathy looks forward to pursuing new goals including training to run a full marathon. She also speaks to groups about living with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), having been diagnosed herself later in life. Cathy’s passion as a natural health advocate is to help empower others by sharing her personal story and to help inspire others who are touched by a disability—both visible and invisible—to imagine the possibilities.
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Cigna_logo4Are you joining us and #TeamCigna for the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend?  What race(s) are you running?

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @RunAllTheRaces, Instagram @RunAllTheRaces, and like us on Facebook/runalltheraces.

Any questions, please reach out to us at runalltheraces@yahoo.com.  We love hearing from our readers!

Have you checked out our Podcast?  Give us a listen and let us know what you think: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/run-all-the-races/id1078046216?mt=2

Perfectly Goofy Gail, Delightful Dopey Kimberly, PhotoBomb Becca & California Kiley

COUNTDOWN TO NEXT runDisney RACE WEEKEND: Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Day(s)

:

Hour(s)

:

Minute(s)

:

Second(s)

Meet Perfectly Goofy Gail
Perfectly Goofy Gail's 100th runDisney medal!

Perfectly Goofy Gail's 100th runDisney medal!

Perfectly Goofy Gail began getting active in 2005 with the goal of getting out of the house and loosing some weight... more

Meet Delightfully Dopey Kimberly
Thank you @runDisney for 7 years, 74 races, 102 medals and 708.2 magical miles!

Thank you @runDisney for 7 years, 74 races, 102 medals and 708.2 magical miles!

Delightfully Dopey Kimberly began running in 2008 with the single goal of crossing “running a marathon” off her bucket list... more

Meet PhotoBomb Becca
We don't call her PhotoBomb Becca for nothing...

We don't call her PhotoBomb Becca for nothing...

PhotoBomb Becca...more

Meet California Kiley
Disneyland Diamond Anniversary Minnie

Disneyland Diamond Anniversary Minnie

California Kiley as you can probably guess hails from sunny Southern California... more

SPONSORED BY

SPONSORED BY

ARCHIVES

2017 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend: Meet #TeamCigna – Mike Green #WDW5K

2017 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend: Meet #TeamCigna – Mike Green #WDW5K

As the ladies of RunAllTheRaces get ready for the 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon weekend presented by Cigna, we’re excited to share the inspirational stories of some of the members of #TeamCigna.
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     Mike Green, 57 years old from Houston, Texas, is a U.S. military veteran and retired police officer of 25 years who recently found a new, rewarding way to serve his community and stay healthy at the same time.  By participating in the YMCA’s Enhance®Fitness program made possible by a Cigna Foundation grant, Mike has improved his health, increased his strength and endurance which opened the door for him to discover and achieve new goals. 
     In recognition of Mike’s milestone, this January, Mike will participate on Team Cigna in the Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend 5K. As part of Cigna’s commitment to the health and wellbeing of people at every stage and phase of life, Cigna is sending Mike and his wife to the Walt Disney WorldMarathon Weekend, an annual 4-day event that combines family, fun and physical activity, to be an ambassador for the EnhanceFitness program. 
     “After I retired, without a way to serve my community I felt lost. My health was also not at an optimum which added to my challenges.” mike-1Mike took three different blood pressure medications to manage high blood pressure and manages post-traumatic stress disorder, a disability from war. That’s when Mike, a longtime member of his local YMCA, decided to make his health a priority and turned to his community at the YMCA and friend, YMCA associate director, Lharrisa Jacobs, for support and ideas how to achieve his health goals.
     “Earlier this year I joined the EnhanceFitness program at my YMCA provided through a Cigna Foundation grant. By keeping myself healthy, increasing my strength and endurance in the EnhanceFitness program, I’m now able to compete in community 5K runs for charity to help raise money for education scholarships and other community causes,” said Mike. He also mentors other participants in the program as a way to give back. “Through EnhanceFitness, I feel better, have more energy and have new and rewarding ways that I am able to continue serving my community.” 
     EnhanceFitness is a proven community-based senior fitness and arthritis management program designed to help improve health of older adults through increased physical activity and strength exercises in a fun, social environment. EnhanceFitness is nationally recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Council on Aging and several other federal agencies.
     Measurable health improvements like reduced risk of chronic disease and falls are benchmarks tracked and results of the EnhanceFitness program. Mike is one of 13,569 EnhanceFitness participants. 
     As a result of participating in the EnhanceFitness program at the Greater Houston YMCA, Mike’s blood pressure is now within a normal, healthy range; his doctor reduced his blood pressure medication from three pills to one and Mike is no longer pre-diabetic. Mike’s improved core strength and balance empowers his independence and enables him to walk with stability and confidence across uneven ground and sidewalks without his cane, and he no longer needs to wear a brace on his left ankle. Since joining the program, he reports no falls—a marked improvement. 
     “The Cigna Foundation has been the stronghold for the EnhanceFitness program at the YMCA. Cigna Foundation’s support of the EnhanceFitness program along with the dedication of the YMCA instructors have helped me get to this point,” said Mike. 
     The Greater Houston YMCA is one of two YMCA’s in the U.S. to launch the EnhanceFitness program earlier this year as a result of a Cigna Foundation World of Difference grant. The classes are specially tailored to support health and wellbeing for older adults. This isn’t one-size-fits-all. Members are encouraged to participate at their level, and the instructors are trained to know how to support individuals’ ability levels and meet them where they are. 
     “The Cigna Foundation is dedicated to helping individuals live healthier, more secure lives; and for our seniors that means healthy aging through physical, mental and social well-being,” said David Figliuzzi, executive director of the Cigna Foundation. “We’re proud to partner with the ‘Y’ to help seniors in Philadelphia and Houston become more active, energized and empowered for independent living through the EnhanceFitness program.” 
     Mike shared, “When Lharissa invited me to participate in the 5K at Disney World on Team Cigna, I was very excited to have this opportunity. I’m looking forward to representing the YMCA and hopefully inspiring others to keep achieving your goals and discover new ones.” Mike supports other Enhance Fitness members along their journey to success. 
     “I tell other members, be dedicated to the program and it will be dedicated to you. Do what you can, and you will get there.” 
     After Mike crosses the 5K finish line in Walt Disney World, he looks forward to accomplishing new goals like running in community 5Ks to raise money for educational scholarships, and mentor other members in the EnhanceFitness program along their road to health and wellness.
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Cigna_logo4Are you joining us and #TeamCigna for the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend?  What race(s) are you running?

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Perfectly Goofy Gail, Delightful Dopey Kimberly, PhotoBomb Becca & California Kiley

COUNTDOWN TO NEXT runDisney RACE WEEKEND: Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

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Meet Perfectly Goofy Gail
Perfectly Goofy Gail's 100th runDisney medal!

Perfectly Goofy Gail's 100th runDisney medal!

Perfectly Goofy Gail began getting active in 2005 with the goal of getting out of the house and loosing some weight... more

Meet Delightfully Dopey Kimberly
Thank you @runDisney for 7 years, 74 races, 102 medals and 708.2 magical miles!

Thank you @runDisney for 7 years, 74 races, 102 medals and 708.2 magical miles!

Delightfully Dopey Kimberly began running in 2008 with the single goal of crossing “running a marathon” off her bucket list... more

Meet PhotoBomb Becca
We don't call her PhotoBomb Becca for nothing...

We don't call her PhotoBomb Becca for nothing...

PhotoBomb Becca...more

Meet California Kiley
Disneyland Diamond Anniversary Minnie

Disneyland Diamond Anniversary Minnie

California Kiley as you can probably guess hails from sunny Southern California... more

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