Healthy Saratoga

Top Ten Reasons Healthy People Love Saratoga – And We Love Them Back!

Here in Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County NY, healthy really is a way of life! From running to dancing to pond hockey to rowing, we’re active all year long. We get our water from our natural springs for free. Even our public displays of art require you to take a walk down Broadway. Our county is home to three state parks and one national park, 300+ miles of trails, 650 local farms and a dozen farmers markets - - a couple which operate indoors over the winter too. So what really makes us healthy?

1.) FREE Water! All Day, Every Day!
It’s no secret the city of Saratoga Springs was named after its famous and historical abundance of natural mineral springs. And we love to share! There are more than 15 mineral springs in the city open to the public, and if you’re just in town for a visit, you can find bottled Saratoga spring water all over the country – even in Oklahoma! If THE George Washington visited Saratoga for the healing powers of the springs, shouldn’t you, too?

2.) Must Love Dogs
Saratoga welcomes all walks of life to stay healthy and active – two-legged and four-legged! Dogs are just as much an important part of Saratoga’s makeup as the people are! Taking a stroll down Broadway is a great way for both you and your furry friend to get some exercise with many dog friendly stores along the way! And you’ll go barking mad with the six different dog parks in the area for you and your pooch to live an active life together!

3.) Go, Go, Go
Have a favorite sport? Or a go-to outdoor activity? We probably have a group for you!

  1. Bike with the best of them – Become a Bikeatogian!
  2. Run, run as fast as you can with the Saratoga Stryders!
  3. Gym junkie? Join the Saratoga YMCA in four different locations!
  4. Don’t rock the boat – stay in it with the Saratoga Rowing Association
  5. Climb every mountain! … On a bike … with Saratoga Mountain Bike Association
  6. Are you a Triple Threat? The Saratoga Triathlon Club wants you!
  7. Lace up your skates and take to the ice with the Saratoga Youth Hockey Association!
  8. Itching to do a triple Lutz? Join the Saratoga Figure Skating Club!

4.) 100% Physical AND 100% Mental
Health isn’t just about your body – it’s about your mind, too. Saratoga County residents are aware of that and use the many different local resources to fuel their minds just as much as their bodies! We love Yoga at room temperature or hot. We love to meditate alone and in small groups. Since the 1930’s, visitors and locals alike have gone to the Roosevelt Baths and Spa at the Gideon Putnam Resort for a relaxing mineral bath, considered one of the best ways to de-stress and improve overall body function!

5.) State Parks For All To Share
Saratoga County boasts three of New York’s state parks along with the Saratoga National Historical Park – we might be biased, but we think they’re the greatest of them all! And all four parks never hibernate – there’s something to do all year round! Whether you like to hike, walk, run, snow shoe, horseback ride, cycle, swim, golf, skate, camp, kayak, canoe, fish or cross country ski, there’s no reason you should be laying around on the couch!

6.) We Support Our Troops
Located three hours from the nearest ocean port, it is often a surprise to people that Saratoga is proud to call itself home to many men and women of the U.S. Navy stationed at our local Navy base. These sailors use our local YMCA facilities and inspire others to be active and engaged in our community. Programs such as Taylor’s Heroes, created in honor of Taylor Miller who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010, now promotes healthy lifestyles in young children. We’re home to Saratoga Warhorse, created by Bob Nevin, is an award-winning, ESPN-featured program that improves the mental well-being of veterans and returning soldiers. Pairing those who served our nation with retired Thoroughbred race horses, Saratoga Warhorse helps these veterans regain a sense of trust and hope for the future.

7.) Local Farms -> You
We live and breathe local in Saratoga County! With over 650 local farms to support our businesses, restaurants and economy, we can’t get enough of it! Dominating the dairy and apple orchard industries, be sure to visit some of our farmers’ markets for products made locally – a great way to support local and eat healthy!

8.) Dance Your Life Away
Art comes to life in Saratoga! If you’re itching to show off your fancy footwork in the dead of winter, Saratoga is the place you want to be. Picture thousands of people all coming together to do one thing they love – dance. That’s exactly what the annual Flurry Festival is made up of. No matter your age, your experience or your dance of choice, the Flurry Festival keeps Saratoga active even in the middle of February!

9.) See The Art, Be The Art
Maybe you have two left feet and dancing just isn’t your thing. You can still enjoy public art in an active way throughout Saratoga! Whether you’re dancing, running or just walking down Broadway, you’re moving, and you probably won’t miss any of Saratoga En Pointe’s twenty six, 5-foot tall fiberglass pointe shoe sculptures scattered across downtown! And don’t forget about the annual Saratoga ArtsFest – a chance to support local artists and get active throughout a five-day festival celebrating and appreciating the art found in our local community. You won’t ever regret a stroll through Saratoga!

10.) Healthy Saratoga in the workplace
Yes, we in Saratoga play hard but we also work hard. We are blue collar, white collar and no collar at all. Fortunately, our local employers have also created among the healthiest and safest workplaces in the US. The 800+ employees at Quad Graphics, in Saratoga Springs, have access to Quad Med’s facilities, doctors, nurses, and trainers in their workplace health and fitness center. DeCrescente Distributing has partnered with Saratoga Hospital to also create an onsite health and fitness center for their 500 employees. The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce’s Health & Wellness Council is now its largest committee and celebrated National Employee Wellness Month with a unique “Netwalking” event complete with yellow running shirts for all participants to promote #healthysaratoga!

A Roadmap to a Healthier Saratoga County

By Susan Halstead, Chair, Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce Health and Wellness Council and owner of Family Vision Care Center

In March of this year, The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, released its annual “County Health Rankings and Roadmaps.”

Published online at countyhealthrankings.org, the Rankings help counties understand what influences how healthy residents are and how long they will live. The Rankings are unique in their ability to measure the current overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states. They look at a variety of measures that effect health outcomes from behaviors, to clinical care, to social and economic factors and our physical environments.

Beyond simply publishing these Rankings, the University and the Foundation have teamed up to encourage counties across the US to dig deeper into the health data that is available. They provide guidance and best practices to help counties to move from data to action.

For two years now, Saratoga County has been ranked as the #1 healthiest county among the 62 counties in all of New York State. As a comparison, Albany County is ranked #27; Columbia County is #30; Fulton County is #49; Rensselaer County is #35; Schenectady County is #44; Warren County is #10; and Washington County is #31.

In June of this year, at the invitation of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce’s Health and Wellness Council, Kitty Jerome and Jerry Spegman, Community Coaches for the University of Wisconsin, came to Saratoga County. The Chamber hosted a special luncheon at the National Museum of Dance and invited these two to speak to members involved in the Chamber’s Healthy Saratoga movement.

In her opening remarks, Kitty Jerome congratulated Saratoga County on being the number one healthiest counties in New York State. She also noted how it is rare that she and Jerry Spegman are invited to visit and talk with those counties receiving top grades in their ranking systems. But she added that Saratoga County certainly has room for improvement.

In particular, she identified the five categories where Saratoga County ranks lower in comparison to data from the top performing counties in the United States, including:

  1. Adult Obesity as measured by the percent of adults that reported a BMI of 30 or higher from the year 2013.
  2. Physical Inactivity as measured by the percent of adults 20+ years that reported no leisure-time physical activity from the year 2013.
  3. Excessive Drinking as measured by the percent of adults that reported binge or heavy drinking from the year 2015.
  4. Alcohol Related Deaths as measured by the percent of deaths with alcohol involvement from years 2011-2015.
  5. Driving Alone as measured by the percent of the workforce that reported driving alone from years 2011-2015.

Using this information, the Chamber this summer employed, Allison Conroe, a student at the University of Vermont, and asked her to dig even deeper.

She used the County Health Ranking and Roadmaps’ comparative tool to compare Saratoga’s data to that of other similar destination communities such as:

  • Burlington, VT
  • Portland, ME
  • Portsmouth, NH
  • Vail, CO
  • Hot Springs, AR
  • Pittsfield, MA
  • Asheville, NC
  • Charleston, SC

After analyzing this data, Allison Conroe reported to the Chamber’s Health and Wellness Council that she found that the five areas where Saratoga County ranked lower than these peer communities was identical to those five areas discussed by the University’s community coaches at the June luncheon.

Due to this confirmation, the Chamber’s Health and Wellness Council is now looking to take steps as a community to narrow our areas of focus and work to improve one or two of these categories for the following year.

Healthy Parks. Healthy People. Healthy Saratoga!

The "Healthy Parks. Healthy People." initiative is international in scope and recognizes that individual and community health is reliant on a thriving park system that is valued highly by the communities that it serves.

Locally in Saratoga County, New York, we are blessed with limitless possibilities for outdoor recreation in our national, state and local parks and trails. We believe this abundance of outdoor resources is one of the reasons why Saratoga County is such a healthy place to live, work and play.  

We have the Saratoga National Historical Park. Here in the autumn of 1777, American forces met, defeated and forced a major British army to surrender. This crucial American victory in the Battle of Saratoga renewed patriots’ hopes for independence, secured essential foreign recognition and support, and forever changed the face of the world. Saratoga National Historical Park is actually made up of three sites, none of them physically touching the others: the Battlefield (in Stillwater, NY), Schuyler House (in Schuylerville, NY, about 8 miles north of the Battlefield) and the Saratoga Monument (in Victory, about 3/4 miles west of Schuyler House). The Park is about 3400 acres in size. The Battlefield is the largest of the three Park units, at about 3000 acres. Within the park, there are multiple opportunities for hiking, cycling, walking, and other healthy recreational activities for people of all ages. 

We have three New York State Parks in Saratoga County as well:

Moreau Lake State Park - The activities you can do here include: biking, fishing, hiking, swimming, hunting, ice fishing, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, and more. Moreau Lake State Park's lake lies amid hardwood forests, pine stands and rocky ridges. Shady groves of trees shelter picnic grounds and a pavilion overlooking the lake. Wooded campgrounds are quiet and secluded, offering facilities for group campers, as well as tent and trailer sites. Two pavilions, each with a 120-person capacity and a 20'x30' tent which can accommodate up to 75 people, may be reserved on a daily basis. The sandy beach, nature, hiking and cross-country ski trails, opportunities for boating, fishing and ice fishing, and proximity to the Saratoga Springs and Lake George areas make the park attractive to visitors. In the summer, beach lounges, beach umbrella and fishing gear can be rented. In the winter, snowshoes are available for rent daily.

Peebles Island State Park - Peebles Island State Park is at the confluence of the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers. It offers spectacular river and rapids views for walkers and joggers who take advantage of the miles of paths through the gently rolling and wooded landscape. Picnickers and fishermen come to relax and winter visitors use the facilities to cross-country ski, hike and snowshoe. 

Saratoga Spa State Park - Saratoga Spa State Park, distinguished by its classical architecture and listed as a National Historic Landmark, is noted for its diverse cultural, aesthetic and recreational resources. In addition to the nationally-known Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Spa Little Theater, the National Museum of Dance, the Saratoga Automobile Museum, the Gideon Putnam Resort and Roosevelt Baths and Spa, the park offers a multitude of traditional recreation opportunities.

The Peerless Pool Complex consists of a main pool with a zero-depth entry, separate slide pool with a 19' double slide and a children's wading pool with a mushroom fountain. The slide pool has a minimum height requirement of 48" tall. The Historic Victoria Pool is a smaller pool surrounded by arched promenades. Both pool areas include food and beverage services, showers, locker rooms and restrooms.

The Saratoga Spa State Park Golf Course offers two beautiful golf courses; a championship 18-hole course and a challenging 9-hole course, complete with pro shop and restaurant. For more information and to reserve a tee time online visit: Saratoga Spa Golf

The gentle terrain offers picnic areas, shady stream side trails, suitable for the nature-lover or the casual walker, as well as certified running courses used by joggers and high school and college athletes. Winter activities include cross-country skiing on approximately 12 miles of trails, ice skating, ice hockey.

Local Parks & Outdoor Resources:

Saratoga County includes hundreds of miles of trails for hiking, running, cycling, cross-country skiing, horse-riding and more. There are natural trails and mountain biking trails. We're home to the Great Sacandaga Lake, Saratoga Lake, and the Hudson River adding to the recreational opportunities locals and visitors alike can explore and enjoy. Below are a range of local organizations that are working diligently to embrace the idea that our local parks, trails and open spaces can and should be used by those looking to live a more healthy lifestyle.

Champlain Canalway Trail

Saratoga PLAN

Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park

Saratoga Greenbelt Trail

Roohan Realty Promotes Saratoga's Healthy Parks:

Parks and Trails Map

Water, Lakes and Rivers Map

Winter Recreation Opportunities

 

Saratoga County Trails:

The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors and the Saratoga County Planning Department have consistently invested in the preservation of open space, the protection of farmland and the construction of significant trails and trail networks across Saratoga County. Below are links to many of the trail maps that showcase these amazing outdoor options for residents and visitors alike to enjoy while living a healthy lifestyle:

We simply can’t stop shouting - - “We’re #1. We’re #1. We’re #1.”

Having Saratoga County ranked as the #1 healthiest county in all of New York State is an accomplishment years in the making. We know it is an achievement resulting from the hard work and dedication of many individuals and organizations. We’re humbled to think that our #healthysaratoga movement may have played even a small part in securing this extraordinary recognition.

But with our success comes higher expectations. While we are proud to be #1 in New York State, we’d really like to be recognized as one of the healthiest places to live in the United States maybe even the world.

The good news is the #healthysaratoga movement is growing. Since our #1 ranking was announced, more than ## local organizations joined the movement pledging to take real action to ensure that Saratoga County is always one of the healthiest places to live. We will also soon be announcing an expanded list of #healthysaratoga events that we will organize and host as we celebrate June 2016 as Employee Wellness Month for the third consecutive year.

So we have a special request. One where I think it is important to start by saying that “NO” is a perfectly acceptable answer. For those who simply want to continue to contribute their time and expertise, we will be forever thankful and appreciative.

Yet for those who are in a position to support the #healthysaratoga movement monetarily, we have established an account within the Saratoga County Foundation that can accept donations from companies and individuals. Contributions to the #healthysaratoga movement donated to the Saratoga County Foundation are tax deductible as charitable contributions. All funds will be used to provide increased support for the #healthysaratoga movement beyond and separate from the work currently being done by the Chamber’s staff to manage events and promotional activities.

Whether you contribute $25, $250, $2,500, or simply your time and passion for this cause, please know we will continue to do our best to ensure that Saratoga County is always one of the healthiest places to live, work and play. Thank you for considering this request and please know we will be in contact with you soon to invite you to join us for our Employee Wellness Month #healthysaratoga activities. Keep shouting with us, we’re #1, we’re #1, we’re#1.

Access to locally grown food.

Healthy activities on the water.

Shopping healthy.