ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond County Board of Commissioners approved the county Cooperative Extension office’s request to apply for the Sit Less Work Healthy grant to start a campaign that will encourage county employees and businesses to stay active during their work days.
The grant, though yet to be awarded by the Richmond Community Foundation, asks for $5,068 to provide standing desks, ball chairs and yoga mats for the eight Extension employees. Family and Consumer Sciences Agent Janice Roberts, who focuses on nutrition, will monitor the success of the program with a goal of expanding to create a healthier environment for employees across the county, and potentially Moore County.
At the county meeting, Extension Director Susan Kelly cited sources who describe how sedentary behavior can affect the human body regardless of how much physical exercise a person does.
“Sitting for prolonged periods of time increases risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and mortality and is associated with increased risk of some cancers. Increasing light physical activity, such as standing and walking, engages the muscles and has positive effects on our metabolism and ability to uptake glucose,” Kelly said. “Cooperative Extension seeks to change behaviors by promoting an environment that supports the healthy behaviors we teach.”
The grant would not require the county to contribute any funds.
Richmond County enacted a policy in recent years which allows county employees to get 30 minutes of exercise each day, so long as it is not done at the very beginning or very end of the day. County employees get their workouts at a second-floor gym — stocked with standard exercise equipment that was donated for county use — in the old courthouse.
Law enforcement officers are among the most frequent users of the gym, as well as Extension and Social Services employees. Tiffanee Conrad, a livestock agent with the Extension, said she’s been making use of the gym since the policy was enacted and that she gets more work done after a quick workout in the gym.
“I really appreciate (being able to use the gym),” Conrad said. “It’s great to break up my work day.”
In a column published in the Daily Journal on last month, Roberts argued that exercise is “for everybody, not only for the fit.”
“You should exercise because you were designed to be active!” Roberts wrote. “Our bodies were not made to sit down all day, but somehow we designed our whole lives around sitting down.”
In that same column, she advocated that light exercise done in three 10-minute chunks throughout the day, as opposed to one 30-minute chunk, is actually better for the body. Kelly also noted the limited benefits of a 30-minute exercise last week, saying that it’s a start but “then we go and sit down for another four hours.”
County Manager Bryan Land said he doesn’t have time to take advantage of the 30-minute allotment for exercise, but is open to the idea of using a standing desk in his office, saying he would “definitely give it a whirl.”
“I need to … I could use a little exercise,” Land said.
The grant application is due to the Richmond Community Foundation in mid-April, according to Kelly.
The county approved the appointment of Patricia H. Solomon to fill the remainder of former County Manager Rick Sago’s term on the The Health and Human Services Advisory Board, which ends in February 2019.
The county also approved a request to put four foreclosed properties up for auction: 1285 Derby Road with a starting bid of $6,688,83; a Lincoln Street property northwest of Rockingham with a starting bid of $13,231.01; an Airline Street property in East Rockingham with a starting bid of $3,510.23; and a vacant lot on Hamlet Avenue with a starting bid of $2,493.70.
The starting bids are usually determined by the unpaid taxes owed on the property when it foreclosed, according to Tax Administrator Vagas Jackson. Jackson added that the county could approve a lower bid should no other bids be offered.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]