Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Gov. Perry Announces "Capitol Steps Challenge"

Seeks to raise awareness of fitness-related shortfalls in Texas

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008  •  Austin, Texas  •  Speech

Good afternoon and thank you all for being here today on a brisk Texas day. I'd say that winter has arrived, but it's still great weather for a little outdoor physical activity. Talking we can do indoors. I want to thank all of the representatives of state government here with us today and congratulate you on your passion for Texas.

We live in a wonderful state. I tell everyone who will listen that it's the best place on earth to live, work and raise a family. I am also quick to remind people that we lead the nation in things like job creation, exports and Fortune 500 companies.

Unfortunately, we are also near the front of the pack in some categories that are not worth bragging about...specifically those that have to do with too many Texans being way out of shape.

For example, the adult obesity rate in Texas is 27 percent, well above the 24.2 percent national average. That is not a category we want to lead, but things won't improve if we don't join forces and take action.

As state leaders, we have an obligation to lead by example, so I am here today to announce the Capitol Steps Challenge, a two week competition intended to raise awareness of steps we can all take toward better fitness.

Today, I am challenging my 49 fellow governors to rally their state leaders to take part in two weeks of exercise starting on January 1st.

What we hope to prove is that fitness isn't just for triathletes, marathon runners or Olympic-level competitors. Fitness is simply about doing more today than you did yesterday, peeling yourself off the couch, and getting moving.

If we don't, we will find ourselves dealing with more of the current problems created by obesity-related health risks. These problems include lost productivity at home, school and work, increased healthcare costs, and early mortality.

Obesity cost Texas businesses an estimated $3.3 billion in 2005, and is expected to grow to $15.8 billion annually by 2025.

We do not want a Texas where unhealthy habits reduce quality of life and increase the incidence of diabetes, heart disease, strokes and
even cancer.

Long term, we could sharply reduce health care costs by increasing our physical activity and living healthier lifestyles. But more importantly we can improve our lives.

Fortunately, this problem doesn't require a huge government program, a top-down mandate, or a bunch of handouts. Instead, the first solution to the fitness problem facing our state and our nation is to get moving.

To talk about the fitness issues facing our state, I'd like to introduce Albert Hawkins, Executive Commissioner of Texas Health and Human Services. Albert?

[HAWKINS SPEAKS]

Thank you, Albert. I'm not going to put any undue pressure on your team, but it would stand to reason that the folks at Health and Human Services would set the pace...right?

In this Capitol Steps Challenge, a number of statewide elected officials, legislators, agency heads and more will rally their teams to be more active.

Since this is Texas, where we can turn just about anything into a competition, we're going to keep track of key statistics so we can compare our progress with each other and the other states.

Rather than create a program out of whole cloth, we have accepted a kind offer from Virgin Health Miles, one of the leading employee fitness incentive programs in the country.

Team Texas and those from other states will register for their program and use it to track their progress.

Here to share a little about the program is Sean Forbes. Sean?

[FORBES SPEAKS]

Thank you, Sean and thank you to Virgin Health Miles for getting involved. I already have my pedometer logged in and running, so I'm looking forward to tracking my progress.

Fitness is a key challenge for Texas and we're not going to take the crisis sitting down. We're going to tackle it on the running trail, on the neighborhood sidewalk, or at the gym.

Working together, we can create a more fit Texas.


AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry has challenged governors from 49 other states to participate in the “Capitol Steps Challenge,” a two-week contest intended to lead the charge to combat obesity in America. Also speaking in this video are Albert Hawkins (Executive Commissioner, Texas Health and Human Services) and Sean Forbes (President, Virgin Healthmiles).


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