In June, Men’s Health magazine declared Lexington, Kentucky, the most sedentary city in the United States (full list). It’s not exactly a third-party validation you can put on streetlamp banners. Instead of sweeping it aside or pretending it never happened, many organizations in the city have rallied together and are fighting this embarrassing judgment on a public and community relations level.
It’s inspiring to see the camaraderie created around establishing a counterattack to such a public and ugly ranking (I’m not too fond of rankings, anyway, having worked in higher ed marketing). And yesterday I chose to be a part of it at a free health fair downtown (I walked the four-mile round trip, appropriately!). The fair was sponsored by the 2nd Sunday (2S) initiative, a statewide event that encourages all forms of physical activity in the comforts of local community and is designed to get Kentuckians on their feet and moving. It’s been going on in Lexington for four years.
It was fun to see the city’s mayor and others making fun of the ranking (check out pictures of the “sedentary parade” kicking off the event), but it was even better to see the grassroots community relations going on all around to actively change a negative public perception. Zumba on stage, yoga on the courthouse plaza, healthcare advice all around, and informational booths.
These simple acts of organizing and planning can go a long way when like-minded individuals band together and work hard. And yesterday’s free community health fair wasn’t the first of the city’s efforts: there have been gym membership giveaways, education opportunities, and more. I see yard signs all over the city for 5k walks and runs. The city’s newspaper, which is a huge supporter of this overall focus on being less sedentary, is highlighting the positive fitness (non-sedentary!) stories already happening across the area.
The city is fighting the good PR fight, and I’m excited to see if maybe next time Men’s Health releases such rankings, Lexington will have jogged right off the list.