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Prince George’s Co. Kicks Off Fitness Program

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III joined several other county employees and residents recently to sport lime green t-shirts and conduct stretching exercises.

After warming up, Baker led a group to run while the county’s Health Officer Pamela Creekmur led others to walk from Oxon Hill Manor to a trail along the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

The purpose: kick-off a free health program called the “Step it Up Family Fitness Club” organized by the county’s Health Department and Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission’s Department of Parks and Recreation. The fitness campaign, which will last until November, seeks to encourage families and friends to walk, or run, with county officials at various parks and start a health revolution with hopes in making this an annual program.

“Part of wellness is exercising and eating right,” Baker said before he ran a 5K, or about three miles. “It also helps relieve mental stress. This gets everybody started in that direction.”

The county’s looking to combat obesity, which in the last 20 years increased from 19 percent to 35 percent: Some of the statistics include:

• 67 percent of adults are classified as obese;

• 17 percent of children ages 2 to 4 who participate in federally funded health and nutrition programs are classified as obese; and

• 15 percent of those ages 12 to 19 are classified as obese.

Besides obesity, the county’s death rate for diabetes and heart disease from 2011 to 2013 ranked higher than the state average.

The county has a nearly three-year-old partnership with Doctors Community Hospital of Lanham for an “On the Road” diabetes program for residents to receive free information and screenings. The next one takes place from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. May 20 at the Southern Regional Technology and Recreation Complex in Fort Washington.

Ronnie Gathers, director of the county’s Park and Recreation, said the department wants to introduce 75 percent of its physical fitness programs throughout the county. Some of the activities held throughout the county are: swimming at the Sports and Learning Complex in Landover, ice skating at Tucker Road Ice Rink in Fort Washington and free outdoor yoga sessions at various parks.

“There are studies that have been done across the nation on how physical activity improves health,” he said. “That’s why we have various types of opportunities throughout Prince George’s County to keep our citizens active.”

Several residents such as Jimmy Jennings left after working in Annapolis and drove directly to Oxon Hill Manor to get his walk on.

“Anything that promotes a health initiative I’m all for it. I can’t run and jump, but I can walk,” said Jennings, 50, of Upper Marlboro. “We have sedentary jobs. We’re not moving around. We got to get it in and be more active.”

The “Step it Up” activity will resume at 8 a.m. Saturday, May 14 for a 5K walk/run at the Bowie Town Center in Bowie with Sisters4Fitness, a nonprofit organization that provides activities to create a healthy lifestyle among Black women.

The schedule will then run from 6-7 p.m. every first and third Wednesday of the month starting in June.

For more information on “Step it Up” and an outline of the schedule, go to http://tinyurl.com/PGCStepItUp.

For more information on “Step it Up” and an outline of the schedule, go to http://tinyurl.com/PGCStepItUp.

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