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U.S. Surgeon General promotes fitness with stroll at Utah Capitol

SALT LAKE CITY — U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin visited Utah on Tuesday, and she brought her walking shoes.

Flanked by Gov. Gary Herbert and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, Benjamin joined the Capitol Hill Wellness Council for brisk walk around the Capitol's walking trail. Benjamin came dressed in full uniform and a pair of walking shoes.

"This is a beautiful walking trail," she said, pointing out new spring blossoms and snow-capped peaks. "Here, you're blessed to have such beauty and to have a beautiful Capitol here with a beautiful walking trail. You should walk every single day."

Benjamin applauded the Capitol wellness program, saying it matches national goals. As a doctor, Benjamin said she encourages people to find what gives them personal joy and use that to develop a fit lifestyle. To begin, "just start walking," she said.

More than 24 percent of Utah adults are obese, Herbert pointed out, which could lead to $2.4 billion in obesity-related health care costs in 2018 for the state. The governor encouraged Utahns to take personal responsibility and improve their health.

"Take care of your own health. Don't just look to the government. Take care of that responsibility yourself," Herbert said, suggesting exercise, diet and avoiding alcohol, smoking or drugs.

The Capitol Hill Wellness Council focuses on lifestyle changes rather than contests, Chairwoman Rocío Briceño said. The council will lead seven walking events this year, starting with a stroll to City Creek Canyon Gate on April 25. The public is invited.

"We don't just tell them where these locations are," Briceño said. "We guide them, and we wait for every person to finish regardless of time or fitness level."

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