Kingsport tops one million miles in walking challenge

Matthew Lane • Nov 5, 2017 at 12:00 PM

KINGSPORT — It’s not easy walking a million miles.

Yet a group of dedicated folks living and working in Kingsport have done just that and have helped make the Model City the first city in the United States to log that many trackable miles.

Last year, Healthy Kingsport issued a Million Mile Challenge, asking folks of all ages and fitness levels to come together and log a collective one million miles of exercise. The challenge ran from November to November.

Healthy Kingsport announced that the community had met that challenge on Saturday at the third annual Walk for Wellness Expo at the Wellmont campus.

“We not only beat our goal. We kicked our goal’s butt,” said Kandy Childress, executive director of Healthy Kingsport.

Racking up the miles

Healthy Kingsport had 1,500 people who participated in the Million Mile Challenge. They did so by logging into a Walker Tracker program — a piece of software synced with a fitness device (like a Fitbit) that tracked every mile they walked.

These folks walked 836,000 miles during the past year, Childress said. In addition, Healthy Kingsport logged the miles of older residents, dubbed the “mall walkers,” who walked 12,000 miles through the Fort Henry Mall and reported the results to Mountain States.

Finally, 1,500 employees of Wellmont Health System logged an additional 700,000 miles as part of an incentive program to walk at least 7,000 steps a day. These figures were then married to Healthy Kingsport’s tracking system.

It total, Kingsport logged nearly 1.6 million miles.

“This is a very big deal as only one other city in the U.S. has accomplished this feat,” Childress said. “Tucson, Arizona, took three years and had no tracking system. Kingsport is the first city to do it in a year’s time and with a software tracking system.”

Walking for a purpose

Along with announcing that Kingsport had reached its one million mile goal, Healthy Kingsport also issued a new challenge on Saturday: to reach two million miles by this time next year.

“We have twin epidemics around obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Those are chronic, preventable diseases that are impacting the morbidity and mortality of folks,” Childress said. “They’re just not able to have as good a quality of life as they should.”

In a 2017 county health rankings survey, Sullivan County reported that 33 percent of its population is physically inactive. That number is higher than both the state and national average and is one of the reasons Healthy Kingsport issued the challenge in the first place.

“What we want to do is help combat those two diseases by getting at the physical inactivity rate of our county,” Childress said. “It’s more about changing the health landscape of our community. People live a better life, it’s good for employers and over time we believe it’ll lead to an economic advantage for us.”

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