AUSTIN (KXAN) — Monday marks the first day people around the world can start logging miles of physical activity for the month of April as a local nonprofit shoots for a million total miles in the next 30 days.
HealthCode launches its sixth-annual Million Mile Month this week. Anyone can sign up online to start logging miles they walk, run, bike, swim or rack up during any other kind of physical activity.
Last year, 40,000 people across 30 countries logged 1.3 million miles during April, but the nonprofit’s founder and executive director, Steve Amos, said it’s not about the miles, “it’s about, how do we support people in being healthy, in being active?“
Amos first got the inspiration for the activity campaign during SXSW a few years ago when he heard that sitting was the new smoking in terms of the long-term health effects. His nonprofit decided to turn movement into a game for a full month.
This year the campaign promises to be even bigger. Employers can sign up to participate, and their employees’ miles can count toward an employer total. Both Williamson County and City of Round Rock employees are taking part for the first time this year, Amos said.
Last year, people in Austin logged the most miles of any city in the world, tallying more than 155,000 miles. Round Rock and Pflugerville were also among the top 10 cities. Texas as a whole racked up nearly half of the total for the month in 2018, with more 609,000 miles logged in the state.
Because the goal is to encourage movement of any kind, just about any activity qualifies. Austin is full of options, and a lot of those were on display at Zilker Park on Friday.
Ronny Cheng played a pickup game of soccer, which he does several times a week. There’s a lot of running involved, “in a game like this, probably about four or five miles,“ he said.
Next to that group, several groups took to sand volleyball courts. “It’s very relaxing just to kind of sweat it out in nature,“ Ashley Emanuel said as she warmed up with some friends. Chasing down shots on the court requires at least a couple miles a game, she said.
Playing with a dog, walking or jogging on the Butler Hike and Bike Trail and kayaking on Lady Bird Lake all count, too.
“It’s like therapy for me,“ said Danielle Fry, pushing her 8-month-old son around the trail in a stroller. “It’s refreshing.“
It’s not what you do that’s important, Amos said, it’s that you do that counts.
“How many [miles] I do is not as important as doing something every day,“ he said.