BOISE, Idaho – Mayors in Idaho are challenging each other to walk this month to encourage physical activity among young people.
The Blue Cross for Idaho Foundation for Health’s sixth annual Mayor’s Walk Challenge recruited 77 mayors from all but five of Idaho’s counties. A mayor who averages at least 10,000 steps a day in October will earn $ 1,000 that their community can spend on school or community projects, or to promote physical activity or healthy food.
Twin Falls Mayor Shawn Barigar said communities face health risks, such as obesity.
“Childhood obesity is one of the ones that I think is reaching epidemic level, and we need to find ways to address it,” says Barigar. “I think the challenge of walking gives us a chance to model healthy behavior, like walking instead of hopping in your car every time you have to do something.”
More than one in five children in Idaho are considered overweight or obese.
Barigar adds that Twin Falls received a $ 250,000 Community Transformation Grant from the Blue Cross for Idaho Foundation for Health to promote healthy lifestyles for young people.
Driggs Mayor Hyrum Johnson also participates in the walk challenge. Johnson, like other mayors, schedules their walks around town and with local schools, where they get “bonus stages” for walking with the children.
He says being active isn’t just important for fighting weight gain.
“It is proven that a certain amount of physical exercise every day – and it is really a very moderate amount – has many health benefits, many mental health benefits,” says Johnson.
The mayor who takes the most steps will receive funds to purchase physical activity equipment for a local elementary school or city park. Barigar says he doesn’t aim so high, but plans to show off on his walks.
“I’m not going to be the most walking mayor of Idaho by any means,” says Barigar. “I’ve learned that’s not my strength. But I try to have a good time doing it, so I have my own Facebook page that I created; I take a lot of selfies with the kids. I just try to have a lot of energy and excitement when I’m around them.
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