Cumberland Now Volume 1, Issue 8 - Page 23

A Better Me Extension launches virtual challenge By Heather Mullinix Editor The Cumberland County Extension Service works year-round to improve the health and wel-lbeing of the community. Classes, clubs and youth activities help share research-backed lessons in healthy eating, getting active, and using resources wisely. But the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis has impacted how the Extension staff can reach the community — just when the community may need them the most. “Now more than ever, families are looking for ways to maintain emotional, mental and physical well-being through virtual means,” said Crystal Blankenship, Extension agent. Blankenship is working with the Meigs County Extension office to present the Be A Better Me Challenge, nine months of virtual challenges to help participants work toward their personal goals. Social media will help share live and recorded videos that educate, encourage and engage participants in activities that address healthy cooking, exercise and mindfulness. “Through social media and e-learning, Extension will conduct monthly virtual challenges to encourage participants to drink more water, increase physical activity, plan and prepare healthy meals, manage stress and more,” she said. Participants can sign up online and report their progress each week. The challenges kick off this month with “Commit to Fit.” This month focuses on small changes people can make to improve their health — like drinking more water. During week one, the challenge will be to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day for the recommended total of 64 ounces. The next week, the challenge adds 15 minutes of stretching exercises each day. During week three, participants will work toward adding 150 minutes of moderate exercise for the week. By week four, the challenge will include cooking and eating a least three healthy meals at home each week. September is also the Cumberland County Hiking Marathon, which encourages participants to complete 13.1 miles of hiking on local trails during the month. In October, the healthy habits started in the month before build into the Walk Across Tennessee program. Tennessee is about 500 miles from Bristol to Memphis. Participants can join a team and log their miles online over eight weeks. Walking can be done outside or on a treadmill, and teams don’t have to walk together. The online platform also offers a calculator to convert other activities into “miles” toward the goal. The University of Tennessee Extension Service offers prizes to the team who walks the farthest, but everyone wins with a new healthy habit. November marks the start of the holiday season, one of the most difficult times of year to stick to healthy eating habits. The challenge that month will be No-Junk November, with a 14-day challenge of eliminating added sugar and junk food from your diet. In December, mindfulness activities from the UT Extension Service help beat the holiday stress for Destress December. January returns to the focus on moving more and staying active with Just Move January. February is American Heart Month and Go Red for Women. The challenges that month include using heart-healthy recipes and supporting awareness of women’s heart disease by wearing red on Fridays. In March, Destination Food Fair helps remake some of your favorite take-out foods with healthier versions, proving you don’t have to sacrifice flavor for good health. In April, participants will be encouraged to Hydrate for Health with tips on rethinking your drink choices. May concludes the challenges with May Marathon Month, complete with resources to help you get moving and walking. Blankenship said a private Facebook group will offer a chance to interact with others in the county and from across the state, as she works with her colleagues in other counties on resources. “We want people to interact and share posts both for accountability and encouragement,” she said. The private group will provide a platform to share tips on consuming more water, like using flavors and infusions; videos of exercises and stretches to do at home; and cooking videos and healthy recipes. She’s also working on some incentives, and those will be announced in the future. For more information on joining the challenge, email Blankenship at cblankenship@utk.edu. Buddy Page - 931-260-3595 Kari Page - 931-248-3506 931-484-5145 Auction Services Buy Estates | Real Estate Sell Consignment 2085 Old Jamestown Hwy, • Crossville, TN 931-787-1063 | TAL #917 FIRM #2123 www.pagerealtyandauction.com 351362-1001 Cumberland Now • September 2020 | 23