Alaska editorial: AK wins second national physical activity challenge

Posted: Sunday, August 16, 2009

For the second year in a row, Alaska came in first in the National President's Challenge on physical activity.

The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports recently reported that 1,719 Alaskans participated in the 2009 challenge, the highest per-capita rate among all U.S. states and territories. Between May 1 and July 24, Alaskans had logged in enough activity to put our state ahead by a significant margin over second-place Washington, D.C.

In order to complete the challenge, adults had to perform at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week for six weeks, and children had to complete at least 60 minutes of activity a day. There were few, if any, restrictions on what kind of activity counted, and the minimum levels of activity were the minimum recommended by most health care providers.

We certainly hope more than 1,719 Alaskans exercise on a regular basis, and just didn't bother signing up for the challenge. Lucky for us, the number that did was enough to take us over the top, although it pales in comparison to 2008, when 2,868 Alaskans signed up for the annual challenge.

Lucky, too, that the challenge uses a special formula to make sure small populations and large populations are judged evenly. Because of that, Alaska ended up with double the points over Washington, D.C., and the territory of Guam came in a close third.

California, interestingly, came in 47th place, and Washington ranked No. 30.

Complete results are available at px.

Just because the challenge is over, though, it doesn't mean there's no need to keep moving. There are ample incentives to exercise, including improved overall health, weight loss and because it's fun. Yes, you read that right: Exercise can be fun; each of us just has to find the right activity.

Around Ketchikan, there is a variety of outdoor activities available, such as hiking and kayaking; and for indoor exercise, there are private and publicly owned physical recreation facilities, and many home-exercise videos, DVDs and equipment from which to choose.

It's not difficult to find activities we like, and it's worth the investment in our health. Let's aim for three years in a row, and start our off-season training right now.

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