There's a 'Y' in healthy living - Northfield MN: Opinion

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There's a 'Y' in healthy living

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Amy Acheson

Posted: Friday, January 10, 2014 2:00 pm | Updated: 8:12 am, Thu Feb 6, 2014.

Editor’s note: Next in the series of “There’s a Y in Everyone” is a focus on healthy living. Interviews with local professionals in the area of health and wellness for this article include: Dr. Gretchen Ehresmann, Family Practice at Allina Health Clinic; Dr. John Noack DDS, Professional Drive Dental, Northfield; Andrea Hoff, Physical Therapist at the Center for Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation, Northfield; and Patrick Neily, General Manager of Just Food Co-op, Northfield.

As we move into 2014, health is on the forefront of many people’s minds – the challenge being finding the time to take care of ourselves in a busy world.

Maintaining good health is important because it affects so many areas in our lives. Yet national statistics indicate only one in three children are physically active during the day, and a child, on average, will spend more than 7 1/2 hours in front of a screen on any given day. In addition, less than 5 percent of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day.

For many reasons, according to some of our local health and wellness professionals, the Northfield Area YMCA couldn’t come at a better time.

Research for the new YMCA started several years ago. In 2005 and in 2007, the Northfield Area YMCA conducted an official needs assessment to determine areas where the Northfield community could benefit most from Y programs and services. The results of these studies set the course of development for new partnerships, programs and services.

“I am impressed that the Y board looked carefully at the current needs of the community and the organizations that already exist to serve those needs,” said Dr. Gretchen Ehresmann, family practice at Allina Clinic. “They then assessed how to fill the gaps.”

Indeed there are strong indicators pointing toward a healthy movement in our area, according to the feedback gathered; in fact, so much so, it deemed a community center be built.

“Organizations like the Y are important components for healthy communities,” said Patrick Neily, general manager of Just Food Co-op. “The Y’s impact is through education, activities and engagement resources, and the more resources available to the community, the better.”

The YMCA’s programing reaches the masses in a new way. According to Andrea Hoff, physical therapist at the Center for Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (CSMR), “The Y will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the overall physical health of our community. Currently, there are many who do not have access to a center for wellness/fitness – perhaps due to cost, lack of childcare or other barriers. The Y has the capacity to reach out to these folks. While the Y is truly for everyone, it is unique in that it provides a place for not just adults but for families to exercise together.”

As the Y has now entered into a public phase of fundraising for the new facility, it continues to address the needs of the public in its design for functionality and amenities that will serve the people in the area for many years to come.

“The Y is already offering programming from toddlers to senior citizens, but it needs a permanent home,” said Dr. John Noack at Professional Drive Dental. “It will be for everyone, but I think it will have the greatest impact on Northfield families.”

According to Dr. Ehresmann, “The Y will be a great partner for me as a physician. I can refer people to the programs that the Y offers and know that a person will be able to access that programming. The Y can, in one facility, serve our diverse population.”

For a full Q&A of each health and wellness professional, go to To find out more about how you can contribute to the YMCA building project, go to Sign up for a membership today at

Data sources are listed on the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition’s website at

© 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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