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On your mark, get set, go!

By By Janet Little Cooper
More than 100 Atmore residents are tracking their steps this week in an attempt to reach 600,000 steps.
They are among thousands across the nation who are participating in the YMCA America on the Move Week that is designed to demonstrate to people that a few extra steps a day are easy to attain.
"Just over 150 people have signed up to track their steps over the next week in an attempt to reach 600,000 steps locally," YMCA executive director Tammy Graham said. "Our goal is to show members of the community how simple it is to add 2,000 steps to an average day and reduce their calorie intake by 100 calories. Swift Supply is the only business sponsoring their employees to take the initiative."
The Atmore Area YMCA expects this effort to inspire its members to take 600,000 steps in the course of seven days, which will contribute to the one billion steps that YMCA's nationwide are expecting to inspire people to take during America On the Move Week at the YMCA.
The Y in Atmore kicked off the week Saturday by hosting a number of activities and events as a way to motivate people to increase the number of daily steps they take.
"Each YMCA gets to choose what they want to do for America on the Move Week," Graham said. "We held a 5K Fun Run/Walk and a Kids Fun Run Saturday morning. We had 23 adult participants and 10 children. The turnout was about one third of what we hoped for."
Every participant received an Active Atmore t-shirt and medals were given for first, second, and third place in each of the adult age divisions. A trophy was given to the overall male and female winners and each child that participated in the Fun Run received a frisbee.
As part of the day's events, the YMCA opened their facilities free of charge to anyone who was interested. Unfortunately, members were the only ones who took advantage of the festivities.
"We opened the Y to the community," Graham said. "We offered free aerobics classes, weight room, free food and gave out one-week passes. The gym was open to anyone who wanted to play basketball, but no one other than our normal members came. Overall the day was a great disappointment. No one from the city government, local businesses or schools showed up. I am really disappointed in the lack of support the YMCA receives from our community leaders."
A wide assortment of healthy snacks lined a table for guests to sample in an attempt to help them make smart choices when shopping.
"We had enough healthy snacks for 200 people," Graham said. "We had some great sponsors. Winn Dixie donated healthy snacks and Pepsi donated water and Gatorade. Dr. Worrell-White, Southern Family Markets and First National Bank &Trust also sponsored the event."
According to Graham, America on the Move Week was just the beginning of a much larger program and commitment that the Atmore Area YMCA is involved in.
"Saturday was just the kick off event for the YMCA Activate America," Graham said. "It is a national initiative that is rallying YMCAs across the country to further enhance their service and support to children, adults and families who want to lead a healthy lifestyle, but struggle to do so."
Over the past 20 years, unhealthy behaviors, including physical inactivity and unhealthy eating, have led to an epidemic of obesity and related chronic disease in the United States.
Today, obesity is associated with a series of chronic health conditions, including Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, breast cancer, colon cancer, gallbladder disease, arthritis, sleep disturbances and breathing problems, putting the United States in the middle of a serious health crisis and reducing the quality of life of millions of Americans.
Today, there is an increasing population of Americans who want to live healthier, but struggle to do so. As an Activate America YMCA, the Atmore Area YMCA is committed to enhancing their service and support to these people in Atmore and the surrounding communities.
"The Atmore Area YMCA is committed to being an integral part of Atmore's efforts to make long-lasting changes that support healthy living," Graham said. "We offer a weight room and fitness center complete with cardio equipment, pin weights for strengthening and toning, and free weights. Our gymnasium is open to members who wish to play basketball. We offer a variety of adult and youth sports programs throughout the year. Ballroom dance classes and Tae Kwon Do are two new offerings."
As part of the Y's commitment to a healthier community, they are also taking part in a statewide initiative that promotes a holistic approach to a healthier lifestyle – "Shape Up Alabama". The program challenges participants to Shape Up in four important areas of life: body, mind, spirit and finances.
"It is too late for anyone to start now because we have already held the sign up for this, but we will offer "Shape Up Alabama" sign ups again in January" Graham said.
The Atmore Area YMCA will also continue to hold its annual YMCA Healthy Kids Day, which is a special event that encourages children and families to adopt behaviors that support a healthy lifestyle.
For more information or to become a member of the Atmore Area YMCA call 368-9622 or email them at ymca@frontiernet.net.