Couch to 5K program started on Sunday

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

By Ivory Riner

Staff Writer

Despite the frigid temperatures, a group met Sunday to participate in the Couch to 5K program at Henry Horton State Park.

The Couch to 5K is part of the new Healthy Park Healthy Person initiative at Henry Horton State Park aiming to make members of the community more active and well.

Sunday was the kick-off of the program.

Wendy Thacker, Jennifer Turner, and Turner's daughter Cassidy met at the park for a 10-minute jog and finished the remainder of the mile track walking.

Each week the runners are expected to jog or run longer than they did the last time in order to build their stamina for a 5K at the end of 12 weeks.

This group wants to participate in the Rebuild the Mill 5K to be held on May 9.

"The run is not hard at all right now because we are just doing what we can. The weather wasn't too terribly bad on Sunday, but Monday morning it was freezing, making the run harder. I am very excited about this and hoping when weather gets better more people will join," said Turner.

Turner was an avid runner in the past, but had to stop to take care of her 10-week-old child.

"I wanted to get back into it, but it's so hard to motivate yourself. It definitely helps having others to join you and keep you motivated," said Turner.

This is the first year for the Couch to 5K program.

Ryan Jenkins, Park Ranger at Henry Horton State Park, says he and his staff plan to present the program multiple times throughout the year.

Runners can meet at Henry Horton State Park on Mondays at 9 a.m. and at 6:30 a.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays for a run facilitated by experienced runners to help coach them through.

If the meet days do not work well with a person's schedule, he or she can receive a workout agenda by email.

The goal of the activity is to influence people to dedicate 30 minutes, three days a week for nine weeks, to get them on their way to running or walking 3.1 miles with ease.

The Healthy Park Healthy Person program is an outreach effort to improve the health of the local community and to increase time spent outdoors.

The program rewards Healthy Points to those who participate in the three objectives offered: healthy classes, healthy meals and healthy activities.

Once all Healthy Points are earned, they can be redeemed for rewards, incentives and discounts from the park and local businesses.

Chronic disease management, healthy nutrition, and gardening are the classes offered under the healthy classes objective. For each meeting attended, a person will earn five Healthy Points.

The Governors Table Restaurant now serves healthy alternatives for its customers, which can count towards points under the healthy meals objective. In order to be given points, a person must take a picture of the healthy meal they ordered, post it on their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page, using the hashtag #hhsphealth.

People who do not use social media can stop by the park office or the inn to show the picture to a person on the staff. One health point is earned for one healthy meal.

For the healthy activities category, a person can participate in the Couch to 5K; hike part of the 10.5 miles of trails at HHSP; play an hour of basketball, volleyball or tennis; walk a game of golf or volunteer with the park rangers.

"Healthy Park Healthy Person has the opportunity to make a positive impact on the health of Marshall County and our surrounding communities" said Jenkins.

"We want everyone to join in by spending more time outdoors, learning how to keep themselves healthy and making healthy food choices."

Participation is free in any of the activities offered through the Healthy Park Healthy Person program.

Those interested in participating should contact Ryan Jenkins at ryan.jenkins@tn.gov or (931) 364-7724.