Delaware Health: Bicycle Trails, Tackling Obesity, Smoothie Update




Happy Trails

Maybe it’s because I spent years working in public health, but I am a geek when it comes to rankings. When I learned that Delaware climbed from 18th into the top 10 best states for cyclists, as ranked by the League of American Bicyclists, I actually fist-pumped and yelled “yes!” like my 8-year-old son when I tell him we can go to Sweet Lucy’s Ice Cream Parlor.

So Delaware is becoming a better and easier place in which to get around by bike and the positive implications of this statement are vast—and not just for cyclists. It took a village (citizens, state agencies, university researchers, advocates, etc.) but Delaware has established an effort to develop trails that enable cyclists, hikers and walkers to safely get out and get moving.

This effort is called the “First State Trails and Pathways Initiative” and some of its benefits include:

• Economic: New trails mean new jobs. Manpower and strategy are key to developing new trails and maintaining the ones we currently use and love. Tourists have more reasons to visit, especially for cycling and outdoors-oriented vacations. Delaware vendors will benefit from these tourists as well as those taking staycations.

• Healthy and Safe Community-Building: Safe walking/biking trails between neighborhoods can increase opportunities for kids to ride their bikes to school or allow adults to ride to work. Talk about fitting in time for exercise.

• Environmental: Less car pollution. Win-Win.

But the best benefit, according to the book of Shari Short?

The Family-Time Benefit.

This initiative is well timed with my rising third grader’s need for a new bike. I spoke to Matt Holloway, owner of Henry’s Bicycle Shop in Newark, about the need for our kids to be more active and how bikes can help families increase activity and time together.

“One of the first questions I get from customers is, ‘Where do I go? Where can I ride safely?’” says Holloway. “Biking can be a family activity, but it really is a lifetime activity.”

Holloway and other cycle merchants around Delaware are truly invested in this effort. Yes, they want Delawareans to buy bikes, but they want those same Delawareans to be able to use them in the most rewarding and safe ways possible.

If this initiative gets the funding it needs, imagine how much further we will move up the ranks. Perhaps there can be a bike trail between my house and Sweet Lucy’s.

 


New Coke, Old Coke, No Coke?

OK, now I have heard it all. Who blames Coca-Cola? Accountability is a very tricky thing—it makes us question who to blame: the drink or the drinker? Should we blame the cigarette or the smoker? The super-sized meal or the customer eating it? I don’t have any answers for you, but I do think blame keeps getting batted around like a ball at the largest beach volleyball game ever played.

So New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to ban soft drinks sold over 16-ounce portions. As one can imagine, the Coca-Cola Co. is not too thrilled with this game plan. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent stated, “It is, I believe, incorrect and unjust to put the blame on any single ingredient, any single product, any single category of food."

Behavior change is a critical part of tackling obesity as a public health issue, but it’s an extremely personal one. Can the mayor of the Big Apple get New Yorkers to begin eating apples or just make apples easier to access than Orange Crush?

Pardon me while I get my social scientist geek on and outline the five stages of behavior change, according to noted social psychology researchers DiClemente and Prochaska:

Precontemplation: “Soda is a staple beverage for me, why would I stop drinking it?”

Contemplation: “Wow, my friend lost close to 10 pounds after she gave up soda for water. Maybe there is something to this.”

• Preparation: “OK, I am going to try drinking more water every day and less soda.”

• Action: “It’s been a month since I have had any soda, and I can actually feel it (feel what?) in my energy level.”

• Maintenance: “Six months later I am the one inspiring my friends now on how to cut back on all the sugary drinks. Who knew?”

So while government certainly can help by marketing behavior change through programs that make it easier to overcome challenges, in the end it’s up to the individual person to change their behavior.

For some, making it easier means passing laws—this was effective for the “Click It or Ticket” campaign that inspired seat belt usage, or by placing an excise tax on cigarettes so smokers had pay more to maintain their habit. But when you have the evidence to support the direct links between tobacco and cancer or seat belt use and passenger safety, it may be an easier sell.

For those who want a soda, they may not see the direct correlation between their beverage at meals and a national epidemic. They just want to “Be a Pepper too.”

 


Smoothie Update

I don’t know how many of you Delawareans have ever had the good fortune of visiting the Hockessin Athletic Club, but they have introduced an entire smoothie bar, and I am sure it was all done just for me and this newsletter.

They have this amazing menu of selections from kid-friendly smoothies to serious meal replacements. I opted for one of their low-cal offerings, the Banana Slim. This smoothie was outrageous—a combination of banana and vanilla soymilk with vanilla whey protein and extra fiber. It was this absolutely decadent-tasting treat but only for 153 calories. I can live with that. It may have just undone all the calories I burned in my workout at the HAC, but one can’t have everything.

Next up: I try this one myself at home with ingredients from one of the farmers markets. Stay tuned.

 

Health Events

Saturday, July 7

Name Mimi's 5K Run and Family Fun Walk
              to benefit Delaware Hospice
Location Harry's Seafood Grill, 101 S. Market St., Wilmington
Time 8:30 a.m. (registration begins at 7:30 a.m.)
More info. delawarehospice.org

Wednesday, July 11

Name Delaware Hospice 5K Run and Family Fun Walk
Location Delaware Hospice Center, 100 Patriots Way, Milford
Time 6:30 p.m. (registration begins at 5:30 p.m.)
More info. Contact Peggy Dolby, 856-7717,
                       or pdolby@delawarehospice.org

Saturday, July 14

Name Riverfest Free Health Screenings and Teddy Bear Health Clinic
Location Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Health Tent at the Nanticoke Network Building across
                 from Gateway Park in Seaford (corner of Front and Market Streets).
Time 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
More info. nanticokeriverfest.com/nanticoke-health-services-tent.asp

Monday, July 16

Name Find Your Way to Successful Weight Loss
Location Preventive Medicine & Rehabilitative Institute, 3506 Kennett Pike, Wilmington
Time 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
More info. 661-3475 or (800) 693-2273

Monday, July 16

The Dickie DiSabatino Golf Classic
Location Bidermann Golf Course, 601 Adams Road, Wilmington
Time 10:30 a.m.
More info. Contact Susan Dubb, 995-2850,
                       or sdubb@wellnessdelaware.org, 
                                                                                              or wellnessdelaware.org/upcomingevents.php

 

 

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