Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price has long known the benefits of healthy living, and she is encouraging her city to get fit along with her through many programs, initiatives and recreational amenities.
Price hosts “Walking Town Halls” and “Rolling Town Halls” as a means to connect with her constituents on foot and by bicycle, rather than in sedentary indoor meetings.
“More and more residents tell me they love getting out and feeling a camaraderie with their coworkers and neighbors while getting some exercise,” Price says.
The city's FitWorth project, created in 2011, includes programs such as “Fit 15,” which encourages businesses to allow employees to go outside for walking and other activities for 15 minutes each day. A team-approach challenge for children helps them track activity, eating and sleeping patterns in order to learn healthy habits.
“The last thing we want to do is tell people, ‘You’ve got to do this or that,’” Price says. “We don’t expect everyone to get on bikes, and no one is going to take away your bag of chips. But more people are realizing it’s easy and fun to participate in these programs and they want to keep moving.”
Getting in the Zone
In 2015, the city is launching its “Blue Zones Project,” a community-wide well-being improvement initiative.
“What sets this project apart from any other is that it’s holistic,” says Jan Titsworth, executive director of Blue Zone Project Fort Worth. “It’s not just about wellness or fitness, it is about well-being.”
The Blue Zones Project is based on a National Geographic study and best-selling book that identified how the healthiest people on the planet live. Blue Zones team members work with schools, restaurants, grocery stores, employers and individuals. Individuals can pledge their participation and agree to practices such as moving more naturally, replacing candy with fruit and finding a sense of purpose.
“This isn’t just another program to get people excited for a few months; these are permanent nudges," Titsworth says. “We’ll have woven Blue Zones into the fabric of the community, so it’s sustainable.”
By 2018, Fort Worth hopes to become a “Blue Zones-Designated Community,” with the potential to save the city, its businesses and residents millions of dollars in health-care costs, Titsworth says.
Fort Worth Trails and Bike Sharing
Fort Worth is home to Trinity Trails, a diverse system of more than 40 miles of trails for walking, running, bicycling and horseback riding. Trinity Trails connect with 21 parks and other city destinations.
The Fort Worth Bike Sharing program has been popular since 2013, when it began offering shared use of public bicycles. Through the program, residents and visitors can pick up a bicycle at a bike sharing station, and return it to any station in the growing network. The bike sharing program is hailed as enhancing the community by providing an affordable, efficient and environmentally friendly means of traveling around the city. Price says these are additional ways to make healthy living a bit more fun.
“I grew up riding bikes and horses, and I’m still an avid cyclist,” Price says. “And I like a good meal. I’ll never be thin, but anyone can be fit.”