October 1, 2009

This year's Second Sunday event is quickly approaching, and Kentuckians of all ages and abilities are encouraged to set aside some time for physical activity with their neighbors Oct.11.

Second Sunday is coordinated by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service through a partnership with UK HealthCare, Windstream, local governments and other community partners. It is a statewide day of physical activity that allows Kentuckians of all ages to get moving within the comforts of their community.

"Second Sunday is a platform to showcase community programs that are positively affecting the state's health, economy and environment," said Diana Doggett, state coordinator for Second Sunday. "Second Sunday is not just one afternoon of physical activity, but a vehicle to raise awareness of the need for local infrastructure that promotes a healthy lifestyle in an otherwise sedentary population. Collaboration among community health organizations plus community businesses and agencies will showcase Second Sunday as a model for community partnership at its best."

As Second Sunday coordinators, UK Cooperative Extension family and consumer sciences agents and community partners petitioned their local government officials to close a section of a road in the county to traffic for four hours and allow its residents to engage in all forms of physical activity in a safe, family-friendly environment.

"Family and Consumer Sciences Agents are ideal leaders for this initiative," said Ann Vail, director of the School of Human Environmental Sciences and assistant director of family and consumer sciences extension. "Their knowledge of families and health and their strong relationships within their communities enables them to bring the people together to focus on elevating the health status of families in their communities."

With each of the participating counties planning activities unique to their area, most people can find an activity that interests them.

"Second Sunday is a great opportunity for individuals and families to participate to take the first step toward a healthier lifestyle. By offering a variety of activities, everyone can choose what works for them and what they will continue to do to remain active. Preventable chronic diseases can be mitigated through this type of activity," said Dr. Richard P. Lofgren, vice president for Healthcare Operations and chief clinical officer for UK HealthCare.

Perhaps few can attest to the benefits of making healthy changes like Mark Kruger. Kruger was a contestant on Season 5 of NBC's "The Biggest Loser". He lost 129 pounds on the show, and has kept it off by making healthy lifestyle changes including eating better and exercising. Losing weight has helped him lower his risk for chronic health diseases related to obesity and cut down on his medical expenses. He will be sharing his story and encouraging others at several events surrounding Second Sunday .

"The very first step is the most difficult, but every step after that gets easier," he said. "People should remember the weight didn't all come on in one day, and it's not going to come off in one day either. You need to determine what's important and set goals to achieve it. And once you've achieved your goals, set goals to maintain it."

In 2008, the event's inaugural year, more than 12,000 Kentuckians in 70 counties participated. This year's event is projected to be even larger as 105 counties plan to close roads.