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TMCNet:  Kingsport Makes Its Mark by Logging 1 Million Miles of Physical Activity in a Year's Time

[November 09, 2017]

Kingsport Makes Its Mark by Logging 1 Million Miles of Physical Activity in a Year's Time

The Million Mile City. These four, simple words formed a call to action that has mobilized, empowered and transformed a community as individuals and teams moved to achieve their fitness goals. On Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, Kingsport, Tennessee, became the first city in the United States to log 1 million miles in a year's time. Healthy Kingsport, a local nonprofit organization working to promote wellness, enhance infrastructure and influence policy, issued the Million Mile City Challenge in November 2016 in an effort to get community members of all ages and fitness levels to come together and log a collective 1 million miles of physical activity in a year's time.

The Million Mile City Challenge was issued in response to data that places the Tri-Cities (Tennessee/Virginia) in the bottom tier of physically active communities. According to the 2016 Gallup-Healthways Index report of metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) with populations of 300,000 to 1 million, Kingsport, Johnson City and Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia post a very low physical activity score, ranking 185th out of 190 MSAs reviewed. The physical activity score is defined as "having good health and enough energy to get things done." In the 2017 County Rankings and Roadmaps Report, Sullivan County, Tennessee, has a physical inactivity rate of 33 percent, which is higher than both the state and national averages.

"We have twin epidemics around obesity and type 2 diabetes. Those are chronic, preventable diseases that are impacting the morbidity and mortality rate in our community," said Kandy (News - Alert) Childress, executive director of Healthy Kingsport. "What we want to do is help combat those two diseases by getting at the physical inactivity rate in our county; it's more about changing the health landscape of our community. People live a better life, it's good for employers, and over time we believe it will lead to an economic advantage for us."

Healthy Kingsport's Million Mile City Challenge was issued to spur individuals to get moving in achieving their personal fitness goals. To sustain momentum, Healthy Kingsport developed a series of virtual, micro-fitness challenges, with each typically lasting 30 days. These challenges gave teams of five individuals the opportunity to test their commitment and competitiveness in meeting challenge goals. Physical activity minutes, which were converted to steps - then miles, were tracked, logged and aggregated in Walker Tracker, an online, physical activity portal. This free portal was sponsored by one of Northeast Tennessee's local health systems, Wellmont Health System, and was available to everyone in the community.

Healthy Kingsport's Million Mile City Challenge featured 1,500 participants who collectively walked 836,000 miles during the past year. In addition, Healthy Kingsport logged the miles of older residents, dubbed "the mall walkers," who walked 12,000 miles in a local mall and reported their accomplishments to a local, onsite health care provider. Approximately 1,500 Wellmont Health System employees logged 700,000 miles as part of an incentive program to walk at least 7,000 steps a day. These figures were combined with the online tracking system, Walker Tracker. In total, Kingsport logged nearly 1.6 million miles. To view a video of Healthy Kingsport's Million Mile City celebration, click here.

Going forward, Healthy Kingsport has set a new goal - to become the 2 Million Mile City. The community has already started tackling this aggressive target by participating in a new virtual challenge, Walk Across Tennessee, which began Nov. 6 and concludes Dec. 31, 2017.

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