Up for a challenge? Healthy initiative offers one

Daniel Estes
Daniel Estes

Have you ever considered running a marathon? How about climbing a 14,000-foot elevation mountain? Goals of this magnitude are unachievable, right? Even laughable? Sure, for many of us, these are daunting prospects.

But now, through an initiative created by Healthy Mesa County, Grand Valley residents have an opportunity to complete equivalent measures of fitness over an extended period of time — taking these lofty goals from downright crazy to absolutely realistic.

The Marathon Challenge now under way helps people track their physical activity. At the end of the period on Sept. 16, they’ll be able to calculate how far they’ve traveled over that time.

The goal of the challenge is to complete one full marathon, or 26.2 miles, worth of steps and activity. But participants who are capable are encouraged to complete as many marathons as they can.

The 2014 version of the Marathon Challenge also offers a new component, which lets participants know how far they have traveled in terms of 14ers. For example, if someone walks or runs 10 miles, they’ll have virtually climbed from the trailhead to the top of Mount Wilson.

“The idea is basically to give people throughout the county an opportunity to improve their physical fitness over a period of time. As they keep track of their steps and activity, they can see the progress they make and see how far they have gone in terms of marathons and mountains, all while improving their overall fitness level,” said Chelsea Wells, a health promotion specialist for the Mesa County Health Department.

Of course, some people might be opposed to the monotony that often accompanies running or walking just for the sake of fitness. Healthy Mesa County has addressed this issue in the Marathon Challenge by including a conversion table that converts other physical activity into steps. This table includes everything from ping pong to painting, accounting for nearly all kinds of activity.

The Marathon Challenge is available to any Mesa County business, non-profit or agency that chooses to participate. Healthy Mesa County will distribute informational packets, goal sheets and official record-keeping materials to participating agencies to pass along to their employees.

Participants are encouraged to purchase pedometers or download smartphone apps that can help them keep track of how far they travel each day. Two of the more popular apps Healthy Mesa County recommends are Pacer and Map My Walk.

The idea for the 2014 Marathon Challenge stems from the broader mission of Healthy Mesa County, which is to organize community efforts that improve the health and well-being of Mesa County residents. Healthy Mesa County strives to bring people together under the umbrella of positive physical, mental and emotional health.

The Marathon Challenge reflects that vision in a number of ways.

Setting goals and keeping track of physical activity has been shown to lead to better results for physical fitness. Also, completing physical tasks of this nature alongside co-workers and peers creates a sense of unity that can lead to more motivation in other areas of life, including work. Finally, with more physical activity comes an overall improvement in quality of life. All of these aspects reflect the Healthy Mesa County mission.

So go ahead and accept the challenge — run a marathon or climb a mountain. It isn’t so bad.

For more information on the Marathon Challenge, call Chelsea Wells at 254-4102 or send an e-mail to:  healthymesacounty@mesacounty.us.