The health benefits of walking are well documented, from improved cardiovascular health and increased strength to improvements in both mood and sleep. The North Coast Food Web – a nonprofit working to support local food and agriculture in the Lower Columbia Pacific region – is encouraging North Coast community members to take those health benefits one step further by participating in its Walk to the Market! challenge.
“The idea started during a meeting Food Web had with members of Columbia Memorial Hospital’s Wellness Group, exploring ways to encourage CMH employees to visit the farmers market and shop for fresh, local food each week,” said NCFW board member Pat Milliman.
CMH Community Educator Venus Fromwiller mentioned that, in addition to eating a healthier diet, some CMH staff members were improving their health by taking walks together.
“What if that walk was to and from the farmers market?” Fromwiller said. “How many steps would that add to your daily total?”
While many Americans might not be hitting the promoted goal of 10,000 steps a day (approximately 5 miles or 90 minutes of walking), studies show that just 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day can provide health benefits, and tracking your steps through the use of a pedometer (or a free smartphone pedometer app) provides strong motivational feedback that encourages people to keep walking.
“We love to promote good health,” said Milliman, “but we like to make it fun. And what could be more fun than ending your walk at a farmers market full of fresh food, great music and lots of your friends and neighbors?”
North Coast Food Web’s Walk to the Market! challenge invites community members to leave their car at home or the office from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursdays and walk to the River People Farmers Market, located at 13th and Duane streets.
Walkers who check in at the market’s information booth will receive a free shopping bag. Track the number of steps you take each week with a pedometer or pedometer app, and you’ll be entered to win the Walk to the Market! grand prize; the person who walks the greatest number of steps to the market at the end of the season will win one of the market’s famous Pie Walk fresh fruit pies.
“There’s a certain irony in awarding a pie for walking to the market to improve your health,” said River People Farmers Market pie-maker Merianne Myers. “But if someone has walked enough steps to win the pie, they’ll have earned the reward.” It took Myers 1,565 steps from the front door of Columbia Memorial Hospital to reach the River People Farmers Market, and it took Fromwiller 1,100 steps. How many steps will it take to get to the market from where you work or live?