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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

New Fitness Challenge Combines Great Outdoors with Healthy Living

ATLANTA, GA -- Hiking to the top of the Southeast’s tallest waterfall isn’t good just for your soul; it’s good for your health as well. That’s the message behind the Georgia State Park system’s new “Tons of Fun Fitness Challenge.” To help combat the growing obesity epidemic, park rangers are reminding citizens that nature holds the key to healthy lifestyles through exercise and nutrition, and that outdoor recreation can be a lot more fun than traditional exercise routines.

All across Georgia, state parks and historic sites offer activities to help burn calories and build muscles. Hiking, biking and walking are guaranteed to get hearts racing. At Unicoi State Park in Helen, trails feature kid-friendly signage encouraging children to hop like a frog or sprint like a deer. At Etowah Indian Mounds in Cartersville, visitors can catch their breath after climbing to the top of an ancient earthen platform.

Most people would agree that hiking in a canyon is far more fun than running on a treadmill, making it easier to stick with an exercise program. At Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawsonville, volunteer Jack Fussell lost more than 100 pounds by climbing the 604-step staircase multiple times each week. Today, he’s a trim park supporter in great health.

The new Tons of Fun Fitness Challenge website – TonsofFun.org encourages Georgians to create an online profile to plan activities, track calories burned and document weight lost. The state’s goal is for citizens to lose one million pounds, and the website even suggests ways to get the family dog involved. Trainers and nutritionists will be available to answer questions online and attend public programs. The website also includes an event calendar with activities such as healthy cooking demonstrations, outdoor yoga classes and guided hikes.

According to State Park Director Becky Kelley, “Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore – it’s literally a walk in the park. The Tons of Fun program is designed to engage and educate Georgians about making better choices about health and fitness. The program is unlike others because the focus is on making exercise and nutrition fun. Events, activities and resources will be available at dozens of Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites.”

Tons of Fun officially kicked off in August at the Governor’s Mansion, with Gov. Nathan Deal, the First Lady and celebrity chef Cat Cora celebrating the event. Cora even provided healthy recipes for the program’s website.

Tons of Fun is funded in part by a grant from the Georgia Department of Community Health and supported by Coca-Cola’s Live Positively initiative. To learn more about Tons of Fun and ways to get fit in Georgia’s great outdoors, visit TonsofFun.org or GeorgiaStateParks.org.

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