The best thing I ever did for my health started with a single lap. A friend asked me to tag along on something called the Market Walk at the Allen Neighborhood Center in Lansing. I’d never even been the market before—and that day changed my health in more ways than one. The Market Walk is a program designed to improve the physical activity, health and fresh produce consumption of adults and teenagers through a structured fitness program. It takes place every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at Hunter Park. For every 10 laps around the park a walker completes (a distance of five miles), they receive a $5 token to use at Allen Farmer’s Market for fresh produce. Sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the program is designed to boost physical activity as well as encourage people to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. I remember how hesitant I was that first day. As neither a walker nor a runner, I couldn’t even imagine completing a half-mile lap, let alone the five miles I’d have to do to get a token. But my friend encouraged me, so I started slow and took it one lap at a time, even if each one took a long time. I stuck with it and even made the walk a part of my weekly routine. Slowly but surely, I was able to pick up both my pace and distance. Before I knew it, I hit the five-mile mark! As I walked more and more, I noticed differences to my body. I lost weight, felt like I had stronger legs and improved my balance—all things I attribute to my walking. Once I got into the swing of walking around the farmers’ market, I couldn’t keep it to myself. I invited others to join me—sometimes I’d have a friend make the laps with me, other times my son would join in as he tried to “beef up” for football. My five-year-old daughter has even joined me! Although she can’t make it the whole five miles, our time spent together walking is a healthy adventure for both of us. She’s even on her way to earning her own farmer’s market credit. Getting my children involved in a program that had helped my health tremendously was incredibly important to me because I want them to live a healthy, happy life, too. Through my frequent trips to the farmers’ market, I’ve introduced new foods to my family that wouldn’t have been on our plates otherwise – it took me until I was 46 to find out what Swiss chard is, and it’s now one of my absolute favorites. With about $100 of market credit I’ve gained through my walking, I’ve been able to sample everything from kale to Ethiopian cuisine. I’ve been involved with the Market Walk program for a few years now and I can’t thank Blue Cross enough for continuing to support this program. For a company to step up, invest in our community and support health with these kinds of incentives is so unique. The whole initiative has even created a love for fresh produce that I didn’t have previously. The farmers at the market are incredibly nice and the taste of local, just-picked produce is unbeatable. This post is part of a storytelling series we call, “Beyond the Card.” These stories will feature Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan members, employees, and communities who are making meaningful differences throughout our state. We invite you to follow Beyond the Card stories here at MIBluesPerspectives.com and through the hashtag, #BeyondtheCard on our social channels. If you have a story you would like to share, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com.
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