U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker today announced the results of the Tennessee Walking Challenge, a “healthy competition” between their staffs to promote physical fitness at home in Tennessee:
Corker’s staff won with a total of overall average of 162,494 steps. Alexander’s staff lost by a margin of less than 1 percent, with a total overall average of 161,054 steps. The margin amounted to about 100 steps per day. Though Corker’s staff walked more than Alexander’s staff, Senator Alexander himself walked 34,748 more steps than Senator Corker during the two week challenge. In total, the two offices walked 11,965,546 steps, or 4,721 miles – nine times the distance from Bristol to Memphis.
“I’m very proud of my staff for out-stepping the Alexander office. All I can say for myself is that it’s hard to compete with a man who has walked 1,000 miles from Maryville to Mountain City to Memphis. As it turns out – a pedometer doesn’t work so well when you’re riding a bicycle,” said Corker. “This has truly been a fun and healthy competition. I hope it’s inspired our staffs, and all Tennesseans, to improve their physical activity and overall health.”
“Victory for our staff would have been sweet, but good health is even sweeter,” Alexander said. “It’s been a great pleasure to join Senator Corker in challenging all Tennesseans to walk more, enjoy our great outdoors and live a healthy lifestyle.”
The senators and their staffs wore pedometers beginning on May 1 and ending Monday, May 14 to measure their steps. The contest was inspired by “Walking Works” Capitol Hill Challenge, an initiative to promote the benefits of walking and a healthier lifestyle sponsored by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
Alexander, known for his 1,000-mile walk across Tennessee in 1978, played basketball at Maryville High School, helped set a school track relay record while at Vanderbilt University and makes trips to the gym part of his daily routine. Corker played baseball at the University of Tennessee and is an avid runner and cyclist. He ran the New York Marathon in the early 1990s and has participated in several triathlons.
The Walking Works program promotes the idea that a daily routine of brisk walking leads to weight loss, lower cholesterol, a stronger heart, and a decrease in the likelihood of serious health problems. The program encourages participants to make simple changes in routine like taking stairs instead of an elevator, walking instead of driving to nearby locations, and parking at the back of a parking lot instead of the front. The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports recommends 30 minutes a day, on five or more days a week, or 10,000 steps daily, to produce the best, long-term health benefits.
According to statistics from BCBSA, more than 60 percent of American adults do not get the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity a day, and more than 30 percent are not physically active at all. The Tennessee Department of Health reports that in 2004, more than 64 percent of adult Tennesseans were overweight or obese. Inactivity also contributes to health care costs. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates the cost to treat illness and chronic disease caused by inactive lifestyles is nearly $1,000 annually for every American family.