Foothill Fitness Challenge: Using what we’ve learned

August 29, 2013 | by

Exercise and a healthy lifestyle reduce the risks of cancer and diabetes. City of Hope has seen the evidence in its laboratories and shared it in scientific publications.

Duarte Mayor ,,, followed by City of Hope's Kristen Pugh lead the way as leaders from nearby communities give the Foothill Fitness Challenge a trial run.

Duarte Mayor Margaret Finlay and City of Hope's Kristen Pugh, associate vice president government and community relations, lead the way as leaders from nearby communities give the Foothill Fitness Challenge a trial run. Photo credit: Fred Lee

Now, City of Hope is working with neighboring cities to put that knowledge into action through the Foothill Fitness Challenge. Teams from cities throughout the San Gabriel Valley – one team per city, all competing against each other – will set fitness goals, track their progress for three months, monitor the results along the way, then reconvene to tally the final results and determine which  team has racked up the most healthy habits.

The program rests on three simple principles: eat more healthfully, move more, live fully.

In addition to sharing what researchers have learned about how these steps lead to a reduced risk of illness, the Foothill Fitness Challenge is bringing together resources to help participants learn how to adopt these practices in their daily lives. On Thursday, leaders of the neighboring cities took their literal first steps in adopting the Foothill Fitness Challenge, walking the mile-long Centennial Path through City of Hope's campus and formalizing their commitment to leading their cities in making healthy changes.

The challenge will kick off at City of Hope on Saturday, Oct. 5. Participants will receive a pedometer, plus a tracker to record their goals and monitor their progress through January 2014.

Participants in the challenge will be able to choose their own goals. For example, to lose weight, lower their BMI by a certain percentage, eat more vegetables, see their blood pressure drop or incorporate more exercise into their daily routine.

To help them set these goals, Kaiser Permanente of  Baldwin Park will be on hand at the kickoff to provide free health screenings for blood pressure, body mass index and other basic indicators of fitness. Nutrition experts will offer practical tips and cooking demonstrations to show participants simple ways to improve their food choices. Further, local community organizations will provide information on free and low-cost ways people can move more in their own neighborhoods.

As part of the launch event, teams will walk the one-mile Centennial Path that winds through the City of Hope campus. Along the way, representatives of the Boys & Girls Club of the Foothills will engage kids in fitness play stations, offering families ideas on how to make exercise more fun.

City of Hope also will host challenge events in November and December.

More than a series of events, the challenge aims to motivate neighboring communities to take healthy steps to help prevent cancer and diabetes. Already, City of Hope researchers have shown that exercise can reduce the risk of cancer and cancer recurrence. It also reduces the risk of diabetes, as does maintaining a healthy weight.

By helping local residents set goals based on data collected from their own health screenings, the challenge has the potential to provide tangible measurements of health improvement.

Cities already committed to the challenge include Arcadia, Azusa, Baldwin Park, Duarte, Irwindale, Monrovia and Temple City. The Boys & Girls Club of the Foothills and City of Hope will  also have their own teams. Team members will receive a T-shirt, a lanyard and a team card.

A century ago, City of Hope opened to provide free care for tuberculosis patients. When that health crisis passed, the medical center evolved to tackle the serious threats of cancer and diabetes through exquisite patient care and tireless research efforts. The center is proud of its proven ability to nimbly take a discovery in the laboratory and translate it to real-world patient treatments.

Now, City of Hope begins its second century by applying that practice on a larger scale – partnering with neighboring communities to translate knowledge into action. The goal: better health for all.

Sign up for a team at www.cityofhope.org/fitnesschallenge.