Take advantage of the outdoors during Move it in May. | BAILEY WOLDING
“Increasing physical activity can lead to a longer life and improved health. Every hour you’re active, the experts say, adds one and a half hours to your life,” reads the press release from the first fitness week in Cook County, 13 years ago.
Movin and Groovin ran from June 12-19 in 2004. The goal was to encourage more North Shore residents to be active and to help participants see that exercise doesn’t have to be work. The week included sample classes, allowing residents to find the right type of exercise for them. The classes covered a wide range of topics, such as stretching, organizing a walking group, yoga and water aerobics. There was a bike ride to Naniboujou for brunch, and Wisdom Steps, a walking campaign in Grand Portage, organized by Minnesota’s American Indian tribes and the Board on Aging.
The push for a more active community was one of many happening at the time to combat the rising number of obese and overweight adults in the U.S. Heart-disease, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer are all related to obesity. Currently, more than one-third of adults in the U.S. are obese, though Minnesota is below the national average, with 25-30 percent of its adult population qualifying as obese, according to the Center for Disease Control.
One of the reasons Minnesota may be below the national average is due to campaigns like the Movin and Groovin week that promotes healthy lifestyles. Since 2004, the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic, along with other sponsors, have broadened the week-long event into a month-long event; Move it in May.
To encourage people to participate in Move it in May, a website (sawtoothmountainclinic.org/moveit) was created that allows people to register their “minutes/miles of healthy activity; for example: physical exercise, massage, or preparing healthy meals.” Each month, a destination is selected, and the miles logged by each person pool together to show how far Cook County residents as a whole have traveled. In February, the destination was Chena, Alaska, with “stops” at the hot springs along the way. Extra incentives have been added too. For example, when someone registers their minutes or miles they become eligible for prize drawings at the end of May.
Businesses and organizations are encouraged to form teams to participate. A piece of paper can be pinned on a bulletin for employees to log their miles, allowing them to see how their activity compares to others, and hopefully encouraging them to walk an extra mile or swim an extra lap. All of those miles can be logged under the team name on the Move It website.
This year’s Move it in May will include sample classes and prizes for those participating. The YMCA is also encouraging residents to utilize its facility.
“The first Sunday of the month at the Y is free for community members that want to take advantage of an open swim, cardio equipment, or open gym, so that’s always a great option to move-it,” said Emily Marshall, executive director for the Cook County YMCA.
The Ham Run, organized by the YMCA, has also become a May tradition in Cook County. Residents can register for the half marathon, a 5k, or the Little Runts Run.
With its extensive hiking trail system, ski trails, and waterways, Cook County is a place many people flock to for exercise. However, as a resident it is easy to overlook these opportunities. Move it in May encourages residents to get off the couch. Your mind and body will thank you, and you might even win a great prize.