Posted on May 3, 2004
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today announced the results of the Tennessee Walking Challenge, a contest to encourage Tennesseans to exercise for a healthier lifestyle. The contest stemmed from a national initiative, America on the Move (AOM), which is dedicated to helping individuals and communities across our nation make positive changes to improve health and quality of life. While Frist is an avid marathon runner, Alexander, is recognized for walking 1,000 miles across Tennessee in his campaign for governor. The senators and their staff wore pedometers to count their steps from Tuesday, March 30 to Tuesday, April 27. Alexander's staff compiled nearly 5.3 million steps over the course of the month-long competition, while Frist's staff had more than 4.1 million steps. "This contest was a win-win for all participants. I'm proud of everyone for taking steps to help raise awareness about the importance of a healthy lifestyle," said Frist. "Exercise and healthy eating are critical to improving the overall well being of Americans. I congratulate Senator Alexander and his staff for their tremendous effort, and hopefully we're all a little more fit and healthy because of the competition. And of course, I will continue to encourage my staff, which apparently is so busy working at their desks, to keep moving for better health." "I am proud of my staff for upholding the Alexander walking tradition," Alexander said. "This contest was fun, but its purpose was to highlight the serious problem of obesity, which is showing up on a lot of indicators as causing premature death. I hope we've encouraged Tennesseans to exercise more and to take the necessary steps toward a healthier lifestyle." More than 60 percent of American adults do not get the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity a day and 25 percent of American adults are not physically active at all. More than 120 million Americans — 64.5 percent of the adult population — are overweight and 31 percent are obese. In Tennessee, the rate of obesity has increased from 11.8 percent in 1990 to 24.6 in 2002. This means that more than 1,400,000 Tennesseans are now obese and the rate continues to increase rapidly across all life stages. Tennessee ranks among the top 10 states with the highest rates of obesity. America On the Move recommends making two small daily changes to improve health: Take 2,000 more steps each day (about one mile) and eat 100 fewer calories (about a pat of butter). Both Frist and Alexander are members of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which has jurisdiction over public health legislation. Additionally Frist introduced legislation, the "Improved Nutrition and Physical Activity Act," or "IMPACT Act," which recognizes significant problems associated with obesity including heart disease, diabetes and cancer and works to reduce those problems by encouraging better nutrition and more physical activity. The legislation passed the Senate last December and awaits committee consideration in the House.