HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Healthy Huntsville has been around for five years now. What started as an idea to help city workers get on the road to a better lifestyle, has grown into something much bigger.
Huntsville mayor Tommy Battle helped get it all started. He didn't like the fact that Alabama is one of the most obese states in the nation. “We started with the idea of how can we make our city employees more healthy,” he recently told us.
A team went to work putting together the Healthy Huntsville initiative. Healthier workers means fewer visits to the doctor and fewer medical bills. “We said, what if we expand that and go from just city employees to everybody in Huntsville or everybody in Madison County, north Alabama,” Battle said. “What would happen if they were a little bit healthier?”
The mayor knew he’d need to lead by example. So when the program kicked off, he was out there exercising and getting healthier himself. “We always push the idea that you don't have to run a marathon,” he said. “You don't have to kill yourself, but if you do a little bit each day, it sure does help you.”
And you’ll feel better. The mayor agreed, “It makes you more productive, more productive at work, more productive at home and maybe get off that couch a little bit more.” A healthy Huntsville also attracts people who are looking at moving and working here. “This is part of your quality of life, having something that says I’m going to be a healthy population and I’m going to move to a place that believes in being healthy,” Battle said.
Whether it's doing Tai Chi or yoga in the park, the mayor’s annual bike ride or taking part in his yearly challenge to walk 100 miles in 100 days, it's about getting out and getting healthy. “I went out there and I said 'I’ll do some yoga. That won't be anything.' I was sore for days. I was sore everywhere in places I didn't know I should be sore,” he said laughing.
But he's happy with the results he's seeing from the Healthy Huntsville program five years later. “It makes you proud to watch and see people out every day now and you see people out walking,” he added. “You feel better about yourself.”
Another way to achieving that healthier lifestyle, Scale Back Alabama. The free statewide weight loss program kicks off January 9th. Weigh-in week will be January 11th through the 18th. Weigh-out week is March 15th through the 22nd. As usual, Huntsville Hospital will be an official site at the medical mall on the corner of Governors and the Parkway. More than 21,000 Alabamians took part statewide last year. They lost more than 76,000 pounds!