Blue Zones initiative highlights men’s health awareness with basin-wide competition

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
  • 173rd Fighter Wing
The 173rd Fighter Wing hosted a Blue Zones Men’s Health initiative coinciding with “Movember”, a moniker combining men’s health awareness month with the mustache’s many grow to signify the cause of men’s health initiatives like prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide.

“We need to engage more men in health initiatives in our community,” said Kendra Santiago, a Blue Zones marketing professional. “We looked at our work sites that we partner with and a number of them were heavily dominated by a male work force and we also noticed that we have some teams that have physical fitness as a requirement for the job.”

With that information in mind she and her coworkers came up with the “Strut Your Stuff” challenge, which Klamath Falls Police, Fire District #1, Oregon Department of Forestry, and the 173rd Fighter Wing all agreed to participate in. These five teams are joined by the Blue Zones team, who happened to be all-female.

Each organization fielded a team, and every week in November they will undertake one of the organizations fitness tests as a group. It provides a little competition, a lot of camaraderie and, of course, exercise.

The second week’s challenge brought the teams to Kingsley Field for the U.S. Air Force Annual Fitness Test consisting of push-ups, sit-ups and a 1.5-mile run, Nov. 6, 2019.

The teams all have different color “Movember” shirts created by the Blue Zones organization, and they are scattered around the gym shouting encouragement to one another.

The competitors intermingle, they partner up with members of other teams and shout encouragement to their opponents. On the surface it doesn’t even really appear to be a competition at all; however, there is a score and each team is competing for bragging rights.

They transitioned to the run portion and the first finisher, ODF Forester Jonathan Fitch, crossed the finish line in under 9 minutes, more than 30-seconds ahead of the next closest finisher.

When the points were all tabulated the Kingsley Field was a touch chagrined as they didn’t earn the top spot in their own fitness challenge. More specifically, they came in last place….

There was some good-natured ribbing that ensued and the Kingsley team is looking for ways to be the top finisher for the next challenge which is the City of Klamath Falls Police Dept. fitness test.

For Santiago it has turned out better than she’d imagined, “I love that we can do things like this that really help build our community.”