State Health Commissioner Novello Kicks off Eighth Annual Physical Activity and Nutrition Challenge

ALBANY, May 11, 2005 - New York State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., today kicked off the eighth annual Commissioner's Physical Activity and Nutrition Challenge with a half-mile "walk and talk" around the Empire State Plaza to raise awareness of the importance of physical activity and proper nutrition.

The Commissioner's Physical Activity and Nutrition Challenge, which officially begins Wednesday, May 18, encourages Department of Health employees to commit themselves to further improving their health by participating in this fitness campaign. The initiative helps to promote healthy behaviors among state employees by encouraging them to be physically active and eat more fruits and vegetables daily.

"I can think of no better way to show my support for what I believe is an important ingredient to a healthy lifestyle than to lead by example," Dr. Novello said. "This campaign gives participants the opportunity to set goals for themselves as a way to improve their health and reduce the risk to chronic diseases associated with poor nutrition and lack of exercise. I urge not only all State Health Department employees to participate in this campaign, but all state employees to do so."

The State Health Department developed the Commissioner's Challenge in response to the growing concerns of lack of physical activity, diabetes, obesity and overweight problems increasingly common among New Yorkers. This year the Department is coordinating with other state agencies to implement a pilot program, called

 Commissioner's Challenge participants are encouraged to set a physical activity goal and nutrition goal that is reasonable and achievable within six weeks. Each goal is set using a point system in which one point equals 10 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity and one point is equivalent to one serving of fruits or vegetables. The goal is to reach a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity and five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Employees who participated in today's event and the May 18 Commissioner's Challenge will receive a Commitment to Health letter from Dr. Novello.

For additional information on the Commissioner's Physical Activity and Nutrition Challenge please visit the Department's website at www.health.ny.gov.