Each year, The Garden Island and the state Department of Health ask me to submit a “Wellness Wednesday” article in honor of National Men’s Health Week, which is celebrated the week leading up to Father’s Day.
Growing up as an athlete, staying healthy was easy for me. I kept active because I enjoyed it, not because it was important to my health. But as it goes with all of us over time, the daily responsibilities of life take over. Going to work and raising our children become our highest priorities, and suddenly staying physically fit isn’t as easy as it once was.
As I get older, now a grandfather, my health becomes increasingly important, as I want to be around to watch my children and grandchildren grow up. I’m sure I have this in common with all of my fellow dads.
With the help of my wonderful family and friends, I’ve learned that staying active doesn’t have to be a chore — I can still enjoy it! My body may not allow me to run across the field as I did when I was younger, but as it turns out, I enjoy bicycling. We have a wonderful group of cyclists in our community who help to promote cycling activities for groups of all ages and abilities. My friend Tommy Noyes of Kauai Path hosts an Ugly Aloha Shirt bike ride every week around Lihue, as well as other islandwide activities that are open to all. Check out www.kauaipath.org for more information.
I also have the privilege of joining our elementary students for their Walk to School days, a monthly event coordinated by another good friend of mine, Bev Brody of Get Fit Kauai. By walking together, we hope to inspire more students to walk and bike to school, while encouraging motorists to drive safely. To learn more about the Walk to School or Safe Routes to School programs, visit www.getfitkauai.com.
One of my favorite places to walk and bike is along our coastal path in Kapaa, Ke Ala Hele Makalae. This multi-use path is a gathering place for walkers, runners and bicyclists who want to enjoy the beauty of Kauai’s coast, from Lydgate Beach in Wailua to the north-end of Kealia. The goal is to one day connect roughly 20 miles of coastal path, from Nawiliwili to Anahola.
Each year around this time the County of Kauai and Get Fit Kauai team up with several businesses and community organizations to host the annual Mayor-a-thon, which will be held on Saturday, June 25 starting a 7 a.m. at Kapaa Beach Park. This free family-friendly event welcomes residents and visitors — from keiki to kupuna — to walk, run or bike from one to eight miles along the path. It’s a wonderful time of fun and fellowship, with a healthy breakfast to follow. I hope to see all of you there! To register, visit www.getfitkauai.com.
Our community offers so many opportunities to stay fit. There’s really something for everyone throughout the year and I encourage you to try something new — you might like it!
Staying active is just one way we can work toward better health, but it’s a good start! As the famous saying of Lao Tzu goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
The point is to keep moving forward. Imua!
Bernard Carvalho Jr. is mayor of Kauai County.