Walk With The Animals and HOOFit for Health

One perk of blogging is that I occasionally get advance notice of cool, local family programs and activities. Compared to all of the emails I receive for events in New York and California, I’m thrilled when local organizations find me.

Earlier this week I was invited to come out to the zoo for the kickoff of the HOOFit program, sponsored by OhioHealth and the Columbus Zoo. The idea is simple: we’re all looking for ways to keep our families healthy and fit, so why not incorporate fitness into activities we already do? The HOOFit program is a series of guided walks through the zoo this summer, where you’ll be joined by an OhioHealth doctor who will discuss common health issues and answer questions as you stroll and visit the animals.

The kickoff event was a lot of fun. Several local bloggers were invited to attend, along with the media and representatives of the zoo and OhioHealth. (And I was briefly interviewed for TV – yikes!!)

@cbusmom, social-media-maven Mikaela Hunt from NBC4, and me

And we got to see Jungle Jack Hanna up close and personal. While he’s a local celebrity, you may also know him from appearances on late night TV with his animal friends. (Or from his old Saturday morning TV show, long before most animal conservationists were on the media scene.)

Also? He just had double knee replacement! Understandably, he didn’t walk much with us.

There were a few animal guests in attendance, too, happy to pose for photos with their fans.

 Baby kangaroo! All together now: awwww.

I didn’t need anyone to tell me that going to the zoo is a workout. We have an annual pass, so we like to go to the zoo frequently. Anyone who has been to the Columbus Zoo will tell you it’s huge and involves a lot of walking. We rarely see all areas of the zoo in one trip, because it’s just too much to take in, and because Mira will eventually slow down and remind us, “Guys! I’m tired because I have LITTLE legs!”

She’s right – to start the walk we were all given a card showing the minimum number of steps you’d take going through each area of the zoo.

The guide breaks it down for small, medium, and large strides, proving the Mira’s little legs really do mean she meets her daily step requirement long before we do.

HOOFit was a great reminder that some of the everyday activities we do can actually be great for promoting family fitness, too. Ask my kids to go exercise, and they’ll probably groan and refuse to do it or lose interest in a few minutes. At the zoo, however, they’re taking thousands of steps as they laugh and play and learn about the animals. (And it’s a good excuse for me to get some activity in, too.) It’s like a health activity cloaked in fun. Sneaky, eh?

This guy preferred swimming to walking.

All participants in the guided walks are given a bracelet pedometer to track your steps through the zoo. (Children will receive shoelaces instead of a pedometer.) You can sign up on Facebook to attend one of the guided walks, or if you can’t make it on those dates, you can pick up a map/step chart at the zoo for your own solo walk. Strollers and people of all ages are welcome on the walks.

I’m already signed up for the next HOOFit walk on June 21 – it’ll be my birthday, but starting with a great walk with the zoo animals in the morning is pretty good way to celebrate, I think.

Anyone else want to join me?

Full disclosure: I was invited to this event by OhioHealth and the Columbus Zoo. I received a t-shirt and wrist pedometer while there, and a healthy snack bag at the end of the walk. All adult participants who come for the walks can receive a wrist pedometer as well.

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  1. Very cool! I have never been to the Columbus Zoo but have often talked of wanting to take my kids to as many zoos as possible…

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