Residents get fit at Lansing mall before it opens…without spending a dime

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By Molly Cassidy
Meridian Times staff writer

Despite the snowy winter in Michigan, Meridian Township residents were invited to get fit for free and win grants for the community by logging miles walked inside Lansing Mall.

The 2011 Winter Warm-Up is an eight-week physical activity program from Feb. 12 until April. 2, presented by Community Partners in Health, featuring the Blues’ Community Challenge.

“We need people to get out there and log hours whether it be in the mall or walking at our parks,” Meridian Township community coordinator for the event Greg Grothous said. “I feel this is important. It’s a key to a healthy lifestyle and an opportunity to get into a good habit.”

By week two 48 people signed up for Meridian Township with hopes of beating last year’s sixth-place finish, according to Grothous. Participants could log activity on their own or at Lansing Mall on Saturdays from 9 – 10 a.m. with a raffle of prizes at 10:30 a.m.

“There’s no excuse when something is for free and it’s also for the community,” first-year participant Karen Magoon said after walking almost four miles inside Lansing mall before it opened in Feb.  “Everyone walks every day, you just want to make it count.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is awarding a first-prize grant to one of nine communities participating that has the most people who logged the most activity. The grant will go toward an area of public fitness in their community, according to the CPH website. Runner-up communities will be awarded smaller grants toward fitness in their community as well.

“I can’t even believe how fast a few miles went, and I’m not even winded,” Magoon said with plans to run a 5k in May. “You have to put yourself and your health first. If I’m not healthy, I’m not going to be here in 20 years to make breakfast for my grand kids.”

Participants can register and can track their activity online or sign up at the mall where free blood pressure checks are given, according to the website.

Volunteer nurse at the event, Heidi Buchanan, said blood pressure should be checked yearly, but if there is more cause for concern it should be checked more frequently.

“Your health affects your productivity, how you earn your income and how you take care of your family. Your life, basically,” said Buchanan, who stays active by rock climbing, fencing and walking her dog.

With Michigan weather making it difficult to run outside, Buchanan said any program that gets you moving is a step in the right direction.

“For a healthy young person, walking may be enough. But for the majority of Americans, no walking just is not enough,” Buchanan said.

As of mid-Feb. almost 780 people had registered, logging 5,146.18 miles, which is about 195 marathons according to the program’s flyer, which is updated each week. Charlotte, Delhi and Delta Township are currently the top performing communities.

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