SPRINGFIELD – As part of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) Fitness Day, Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, and Carol Adams, Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary, officially launched a State Agency Walking Challenge as part of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s Fit 4 Life initiative. At a ceremony today at the IDPH offices in Springfield, Dr. Whitaker emphasized the goal of both Fitness Day and the walking challenge to encourage state employees to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors such as incorporating physical activity into their daily lives.
“Many people get wrapped up in day to day life with work, taking the kids to practice, paying bills, getting a haircut, going to the dentist and all the other things that fill our lives. We often forget to take, or even make, time for exercise or some kind of physical activity, and that is something the Illinois Department of Public Health is trying to change,” said Dr. Whitaker. “Staying physically active helps lower the risk of getting many diseases such as high blood pressure and heart disease and exercise can help increase the quality of life as we age.”
IDPHs Fitness Day is a part of the National Association for Health and Fitness annual celebration of National Employee Health and Fitness Day and state health employees from the Central and Regional offices, as well as laboratories, will be participating in different events. In Springfield there will be a volleyball tournament and either a one or two-mile fitness walk. Employees also have the opportunity to win door prizes such as a six-month membership to Gold’s Gym, Ritz’s Restaurant gift certificates and exercise equipment.
State employees participating in the 12- week State Agency Walking Challenge can record steps or minutes of physical activity with a goal of 70,000 steps or 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
“People of all ages can improve their health and well-being just by being more active and getting regular exercise,” said Secretary Adams. “Even a small change in your lifestyle can make a difference in your health and give you more energy to get more out of life.”
Twelve state agencies are participating in this year’s State Agency Walking Challenge including:
• Department of Human Services
• Department of Public Health
• Central Management Services
• Board of Higher Education
• Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
• Department of Employment Security
• Department of Human Rights
• Department of Revenue
• State Board of Education
• Guardianship Advocacy Commission
• Council on Developmental Disabilities
• Public Health Pollution Control Board
Organizations such as Walk 4 Life, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine’s Cancer Institute and the American Heart Association provided information about their organizations. IDPH staff was also available to answer questions about our programs such as Cancer Prevention and Control, Cardiovascular Disease, Men’s Health and Women’s Health.