The city of Albuquerque is challenging residents to get healthier one step at a time - literally.
Mayor Richard J. Berry today is expected to formally launch a community call to action in the form of "Step it UP Albuquerque!" The initiative provides free pedometers to all residents in an attempt to get them walking ever longer distances toward the long-term goal of better health.
The pedometers will help people track how much they walk each day, while the city hosts organized monthly walks at community centers and parks around Albuquerque. Berry will lead the first of the walks Saturday at Balloon Fiesta Park starting at 9 a.m. The locations of subsequent monthly walks will be posted at www.stepitupabq
In a press release earlier this week, Berry noted that Albuquerque has an average of 310 days of sunshine each year, beautiful vistas and a great trails system perfect for walking.
Many of us are so busy that we often neglect to make time to seriously attend to our own health and wellness needs, instead relying on quick fixes, overly complicated diets and exercise programs, all of which are doomed to fail, he said.
"Getting healthier does not have to be hard or even complicated. It's as easy as lacing up a pair of shoes and taking a walk." He added that "we are going to do it together and we are going to have fun and make new friends in the process."
Also spearheading Step it UP Albuquerque! is Dr. Barry Ramo, a cardiologist at the New Mexico Heart Institute and an Albuquer- que Journal columnist. "People who don't exercise are at a higher risk for stroke, heart attack and high blood pressure," he said. Conversely, the biggest benefit has been seen among formerly sedentary people "who went from the couch to the pavement, learning how to walk again and getting regular, moderate exercise."
The new walking initiative was prompted by what Ramo calls an "epidemic" of obesity
and diabetes in New Mexico, and what he jokingly refers to as "the new ED - exercise deficiency." The socialization aspect of walking with others is also important, because "people who are more social tend to live longer and they are healthier," he said.
"Speaking as a cardiologist, once I can get someone engaged in exercise, their self image improves and I can then get them to look at their diet, blood pressure, waistline and weight so they can make the changes they need for optimal health."
The Albuquerque business community has also voiced its approval of the walking initiative, Ramo said.
"When you have healthier employees, they miss fewer days work due to illness, health care costs go down, and there's less 'present-ism,' that is employees who are present but are not effective."
Pedometer distribution sites
Westgate Community Center, 1400 Snow Vista SW Don Newton, Taylor Ranch Community Center, 4900 Kachina NW Tom Bell Community Center, 3001 University SE Snow Park Family Center, 9501 Indian School NE North Domingo Baca, 7521 Carmel NE Holiday Center, 11710 Comanche NE Highland Community Center, 131 Monroe NE North Valley Senior Center, 3825 Fourth NW
Manzano Mesa Senior Center, 501 Elizabeth SE
Palo Duro Senior Center, 5221 Palo Duro NE
Barelas Senior Center, 714 Seventh SW
Los Volcanes Senior Center, 6500 Los Volcanes NW
These sites will be open the first Saturday of each month for pedometer distribution from 8-10 a.m. People will need to pre-register at www.stepitupabq.com
and print out their registration confirmation, which can then be exchanged for a pedometer.