​Prize Earning Cures for Holiday Over Indulgence

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
Need a nudge to counteract holiday overeating and couch-potato behavior? Three area programs offer rewards and prizes for engaging in health promoting activities, and they’re all free: Passport for Health, Healthy Parks Healthy Person, and Park Run.
Participate in a walk-run event, a nutrition event, a reverse diabetes course, a substance abuse support group or any other Grundy County Health Council qualifying activity, and for each event receive a stamp on your Passport to Health. Fill a page with six stamps and earn a prize. Fill all five pages in your passport and earn even better prizes.
The kickoff event in July at the Tracy City Save-a-Lot featured Grundy County UT Extension Agent Jennifer Banks who prepared a corn, cucumber, and tomato salad from locally grown garden goodies. Qualifying events include attending any Extension Office or Health Council program. See the Health Council calendar for a full list of upcoming activities http://www.grundycountyhealthcouncil.org/calendar/.
Passport booklets are available at all sanctioned events or by contacting VISTA volunteer Caroline Todd gchc.vista2@gmail.com.
“We have some great prizes,” said Todd who designed the program in conjunction with Grundy County’s designation as a Healthier Tennessee Community. Prizes range from hats and T-shirts to fitness equipment like wick-away towels and stop watches.
Or maybe you’d like to earn a night camping or a $20 gift shop coupon at a Tennessee state park. Download the Healthy Parks Healthy Person App app.healthyparkstn.com and start racking up points toward your goal. Go hiking, walking, running, biking, paddling, or rock climbing at any local, state, or national park and log up to 10 points a day.
Healthy Parks Healthy Person was launched in the summer of 2017 as a partnership between Tennessee State Parks and the Tennessee Department of Health. “The program offers an incentive for residents to engage in healthy activities,” said Brock Hill, Deputy Commissioner of Parks and Conservation.
Other rewards include free golf, swimming, hiking with a ranger, or dining at a state park. Park restaurants now emphasize “healthy, sustainable, and nutritious menu items,” said Deputy Communications Director Kim Schofinski. Some compost and grow their own produce on site.
“People are untrusting that Park Run is free,” said Kristin Sturgill, founder of the timed 5K walk-run event on the Mountain Goat Trail. The emphasis is on community. Park Run leaves from the Pearl’s parking lot every Saturday at 9 a.m.
Participants receive an identifying barcode and their participation is logged on the website parkrun.us/MountainGoatTrail along with their time for that week.
Those who wish to can track their improvement. “But it’s not a race,” Sturgill stressed. “We don’t reward for the best time. We reward for coming.”
“No one finishes last. A volunteer trail walker brings up the rear,” Sturgill explained. “It’s a family friendly event. We get a lot of walkers and kids in strollers.” Dogs on leashes are also welcome.
May 19 marked the first local Park Run, and since then the internationally sanctioned event has attracted participants from all over the world including South Africa, Australia, Ireland, and the UK. A participant’s identifying barcode is recognized at Park Run events worldwide and used to record their participation and time.
Logging 50 runs earns participants a T-shirt. And, Park Run is a qualifying Passport for Health event, so participants get a passport stamp for each run, too.
“Studies have proven the benefits of outdoor exercise,” Schofinski said. “People report significantly higher feelings of enthusiasm, pleasure and self-esteem when exercising outdoors in a natural setting.”
Maybe that should be reward enough for getting outside and doing something. But, if not, go for the prizes. A little nudge always helps.