Editor’s note: Fairfax was recently named the healthiest county in Virginia in a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, and Community Catalyst.
What does it mean to be your own health advocate? A simple definition is to be proactive about your health and to make a conscious effort to improve and/or maintain good health. As Monica Philips, Fitness and Wellness manager, states, “The most important asset that an individual has is his or her health. Yes, you’ll invest time to learn and live a healthy lifestyle, but the returns are priceless.”
By educating yourself about health topics and staying up-to-date about current health issues, you will be one step closer to becoming your own health advocate. Join the Park Authority’s free Take 12 Steps for Health program to receive health information each month. Each month there is a new health theme, tips to keep you motivated, and a calendar of free monthly workshops on different health topics.
According to Elizabeth Ittner, Fitness & Wellness Program coordinator for the Fairfax County Park Authority, “Our free workshops span a variety of topics including nutrition, water consciousness, stress, anxiety, fatigue, back pain, as well as grocery store tours and wellness screenings.”
Committing to becoming and staying healthy for life is the next step. You can eat smarter and healthier, buy local and organic foods, start your own garden, develop an exercise routine, sign up for a new fitness class, increase your water intake, or train for a race, such as the first annual Healthy Strides Community Race at Burke Lake Park on April 28, 2012. Depending on your fitness level, you can choose a 5K or 10K, and kids can start healthy habits by participating in a Fun Run.
Finally, community involvement and volunteering play a role in becoming a health advocate. Take 12’s theme for September is “Serve your Community as a Volunteer.” You’ll receive tips on volunteering and how to find grass-roots projects, such as becoming a mentor, creating pieces of art, serving meals, or planting a community garden to build strong and vibrant neighborhoods.
The important thing is to start becoming your own health advocate today. Visit Take 12 online to learn how.
Written by Tina Tuliszka, George Mason University graduate student and Fitness and Wellness Section intern