By: Stephanie Moos and Jessica Feilmeier
In only a couple months, an annual tradition in Grand Valley will be taking place. For me, I initially didn’t know what it was. For all you locals, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Every year, Grand Valley hosts Bike Month. The objective of Bike Month is to give people of all ages the opportunity to ditch their cars and other methods of transportation and ride their bikes to wherever they need to go. Bike Month in Colorado is only part of a nationwide effort to encourage bicycling to be healthy, having fun, enjoying the outdoors, and utilizing other transportation. Although numerous events during the month enable people to bike wherever they choose, the most popular day is Bike to Work Day, when employees leave their cars behind and compete individually or in teams to ride their bicycles to work. The number of people participating in this event has steadily increased since 1995, and given bicycling is such an enjoyable pastime for Coloradans, those numbers are expected to continue rising this year. There are various challenges offered to people of different age groups – the business challenge, commuter challenge, and a kids-oriented challenge. Prizes are rewarded to the winners in the aforementioned categories.
Bicycling is an aerobic activity, and it offers many health benefits. An individual who regularly cycles develops a stronger cardiovascular system, decreases his or her likelihood of having higher blood pressure, helps to prevent cancer, and increases the longevity of the person’s life, just to name a few. However, one of the most critical health issues it tackles is obesity, a prevalent problem among children and adults in Grand Junction. A 2015 article by KKCO 11 News stated that while Colorado is the least obese state in the nation, the rates of obesity in Grand Junction are significantly high. According to the Mesa County Health Department, 58 percent of adults and 25 percent of children are categorized as being overweight or obese. KKCO added that a recent CDC report disclosed one in five Coloradans as being obese. Mesa County statistics revealed the percentage of obese children and teenagers was the highest in the state.
Jeff Kuhr, the Executive Director of the Mesa County Health Department, said we as a community need to start paying attention to the childhood obesity trend and start taking steps to undoing that trend. Kuhr added the 25 percent concerned older generations about the poor health conditions of the younger generations, since that consisted of one in four children being overweight or obese. An article posted by KJCT 8 News in 2016 added heart disease is what targets the lives of many youths in Mesa County, more so than in the rest of the whole state. Adult obesity in Mesa County is at 23 percent, with the entire state being at 20 percent, according to KJCT 8 News. Mesa County has the highest rates of smoking and obesity, both of which are risk factors for heart disease. Compared to the state’s statistics for adult smoking at 17 percent, in Mesa County, it is 20 percent. The main keys to initiating and keeping a healthy lifestyle are to maintain healthy sleep patterns, engage in at least 30 minutes of physical activity, and eat a balanced diet of fruits, veggies, grains, dairy, and protein.
Whether you use this as an opportunity to boost your self-confidence and finally attain your long-desired summer bod, or just to enjoy competing with a friend, Bike Month is a fun way to get outside and not spend gas money for a month. As a poor college student, finding something to do in Mesa County where I do not have to use money is the key to instant happiness. Take the chance to experience Colorado as it should be – outside.
Bike Month kicks off in June. So pedal on, Grand Junction. Visit http://healthymesacounty.org/ to learn more.