Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dan Moser Florida Weekly Column: moving toward becoming a fit-friendly community

July 28, 2010

Yes, it’s hot and humid outside. And yes, one can quickly become dehydrated and sunburned if unprepared for Southwest Florida’s summer weather. But it’s still a great time of year to exercise and recreate outdoors. That’s exactly what many cyclists, runners, and walkers do each day, venturing out even more regularly than during the cooler winter season. Simply use sunscreen, drink plenty of fluids and head out at the right times. That’s what those heading up a local health initiative would like to see many more residents do.

My last column focused on reasons why, decades ago, I decided to live an active lifestyle. Now I’d like to tell you about what’s being done here to get as many people as possible to do the same, at least to the degree that it positively impacts health and well-being. Having worked on a number of campaigns dealing with similar heath and social issues over the years, I understand this one won’t be easy. But it can be successful.

In late June, a call-to-action was made to those who had been involved in one way or another with a recent obesity focused grant application the Lee County Health Department prepared and submitted. As I mentioned in my last column, at that meeting a physician in attendance noted that up to 80 percent of all of America’s health-care costs could be attributed to obesity-related disorders. Yikes! If that’s not enough of an incentive to take both individual and collective action I don’t know what would light a fire under our butts.

Among those working toward this lofty goal are the health department, Lee Memorial Health System, Harry Chapin Food Bank, United Way, YMCA, Bike- WalkLee, the Lee School District, local governments, transportation planners, as well as a variety of community service organizations, disease-prevention associations, and other agencies, groups and individuals. The challenge is how to affect behavior and convince the general populace to become more active and eat healthier as part of its lifestyle.

Although the health department’s grant application was approved, funding ran out before our place in the allocation line was reached. But because of the enthusiasm and interest among the many who were part of the planned activities it seemed possible that the overall community effort to fight obesity could still take place even without the grant money. That contention was confirmed at a gathering of the partners. And it was agreed that a program Lee Memorial Health System and American Heart Association have in place, (the “Start! Campaign”), will be expanded to become the base of this larger effort. There was no need to reinvent the wheel, it was unanimously decided. As this effort moves forward, I’ll provide updates, but I’m sure everyone will become aware of what’s happening form a variety of sources.

In the meantime, please visit the website for helpful tips, information and to see it come together for yourself. Better yet, get outside and walk, run, cycle, skate, hoola-hoop or engage in anything else that burns calories and helps fight the obesity battle that many of us need to fight.

Advocacy update

Last week a gathering took place that allowed the public to offer input toward two very important planning documents that will dictate how we spend our tax dollars and build our community: the Long Range Transportation Plan and Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan. The fact that these roadmaps are being updated just as the above-mentioned campaign is taking off is yet another example of the stars aligning for what I believe is a major shift in America’s thinking about how we build our communities. You can add your comments and suggestions by visiting the websites for each.

Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails. �

— Dan Moser is a league cycling instructor/trainer and program manager for the Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation,
recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at or 334-6417.

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