Thousands of Seventh-day Adventists in North America on Sunday headed to tracks, parks and gyms to participate in the annual Let's Move! Day, a church-sponsored program to fight the epidemic of childhood obesity.
The Adventist Church holds an annual day to promote Unites States First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative. The Adventist Church is among some 50 other faith and community organizations that pledged to support the initiative during its 2010 launch 2010 launch.
The flagship event was held in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, New York. There, Dr. Ian Smith, a medical expert who appeared on Vh-1's Celebrity Fit Club television show and a member of the President's Council of Sports, Fitness and Nutrition, commended the Adventist Church for its commitment to promoting healthful living.
"Seventh-day Adventists being involved in something like this is not only a blessing to the parish and the congregation, but also to the larger community who also feed off of that," Smith said. "The idea that a group such as large and prestigious as this will do this means that other groups will follow."
The Adventist Church has incorporated Let's Move! as part of Adventists InStep for Life, an initiative of the Adventist Church in North America to promote exercise and better nutrition.
On Sunday, dozens of Adventist churches and schools across the United States hosted a variety of events, from health fairs and screenings to walks and 5-kilometer races.
The Apopka Adventist Church in Florida hosted a 5k run and a health fair. Across the country, in Tacoma, Washington, the Mount Tahoma Adventist Church held a fitness walk at a local middle school track.
Sensational Seniors of Bellfort Adventist Church in Houston, Texas, hosted a walk in a park, as did the Knoxville First Adventist Church in Tennessee.
The bulk of events were held by Adventist churches and schools in Maryland, a state home to the church's world headquarters near Washington, D.C. The Northeast Adventist Church in Parkville hosted active games. Other church members and their community friends walked and biked along the C & O Canal starting in Williamsport.
The United States' northern neighbor of Canada also joined in. The Prince Albert Adventist Church in Saskatchewan hosted a six-mile hike, while Spanish and Filipino churches in Montreal organized a 5k fun run.
Katia Reinert, Health Ministries director for the church in North America, said the Let's Move! Day is an opportunity for the church to bring its message of healthful living to the community.
"As a church we have long talked about the importance of not just healthy minds and hearts but also healthy bodies," Reinert said. "Our culture is coming to grips with its health crises and we have a message for our times."