Get Fit Jackson
Jackson County’s Get Fit Challenge Round Two is set to begin May 21 and run through July 15. An ongoing initiative of the Jackson County Health Department, Medwest, local physicians, Jackson County Schools , and WCU, the Get Fit Challenge program seeks to promote better public and individual health through simple but effective lifestyle changes. Round one last fall involved nearly 700 participants competing in teams to accumulate the healthy exercise from week to week. Teams were largely workplace based.
Round two uses an informal competitive format involving any groups wishing to participate, but will emphasize family teams. There are five lifestyle practices scored.
Physical activity produces a lot of health benefits including reduction in the risk of strokes and heart attacks as well as improving blood sugar and cholesterol levels. People who are physically fit also enjoy a reduction in risks for some cancers and dementia. People just feel a lot better when they are fit. Getting 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical exercise a day scores points in the challenge.
Related to physical activity is the amount of screen time spent outside of work each day. (TV, computer, video games, cell phone time) These activities have become prominent in American life and produce a harmful sedentary state in our activities of daily living. Indeed, multiple studies show increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and shortened lifespan with greater time spent watching TV. Any day spent with less than 2 hours of leisure screen time scores a point in the Get Fit Challenge.
Healthy dietary habits support health as well and there are two ways to score points in this area. Americans consume a lot of nutritionally “empty calories” that contribute to obesity and multiple associated diseases. Any day with no sugary drinks consumed can help reduce these risks and score points.
The second way to score with diet is to eat 5 or more servings of fruits or vegetables in any day. Diets rich in these foods and lower in fat promote better cholesterol, weight control and blood pressure.
The fifth way to score in the challenge is by getting adequate sleep. Sleep is the subject of much new and exciting scientific research but remains mysterious in many ways. We know a lot about the harm that comes from inadequate sleep but still do not understand exactly what it does for us or why we require it. Experts recommend at least 7 hours of sleep daily for most adults and up to 11 hours for children. In the Get Fit Challenge, the simple act of getting 7 to 11 hours of sleep each night scores points.
Making these small changes on a day to day basis can lead to cumulative health benefits that have major impact. In addition to improved energy, mood and overall health the savings in health care dollars can be massive. We are now reported to be losing over $200 billion dollars annually in needless health care expenditures because of poor diet and fitness practices. This is not economically sustainable and the fix begins with each person and family in each community.
Each healthy living practice done in a day scores one point so that an individual can score up to 5 points each day. To form a team, get together with family or friends and pick a captain and a team name. Teams may consist of 3 to 10 people. Team scores are submitted weekly by the team captain.
Watch for more on mid challenge and end of challenge celebrations!
The Get Fit Challenge Committee will also be on hand at the 3rd Annual Healthy Living Festival at the Recreation Center in Cullowhee on Friday, May 11 to answer any questions about the challenge and to help you get registered.