Amber Kahwaji

Friday, March 25, 2016

Maricopa County app geared for healthy lifestyle

Maricopa County wants Arizonans to get up and get moving with the new Maricopa Healthy app.

The app aims to help locals and visitors of the Valley be more proactive about living a healthier lifestyle by giving users detailed lists of farmer’s markets, hiking trails, parks, and bike paths.

And a healthy lifestyle is not just for the weekend.

Only one in five Americans regularly take a lunch break.

Thirty-nine percent of employees said they do take a lunch break, but eat lunch at their desk, and 28 percent of people said they rarely take one at all, according to a survey conducted by Right Management, a career and talent management firm.

Janet Sell is one local who admits taking a lunch break usually falls to the bottom of her daily priorities when she is busy at work.

“Way too often I eat at my desk rather than going out for lunch,” Sell said.

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Three main chronic health issues are diabetes, heart disease and obesity, which the Maricopa County Department of Public Health hopes to help combat by promoting the free app during March’s National Nutrition Month.

“We know that all three of those chronic health diseases can be positively impacted by increased fruits and vegetables, and with increased activity,” said Sonia Charry, marketing communications coordinator for the county Department of Public Health.

The app was funded by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which helps provide nutrition and physical activity education to other health departments. The goal is to teach those who are eligible for nutrition assistance they can eat healthy, even on a budget.

Some of the features of the app include a map that tells a user the nearest farmer’s market based on his or her location, the days and times the markets are open, and if they accept food assistance benefits.

The app also allows users to look for local events happening across the Valley, low- or no-cost activities for families, and recipes to try with the produce bought at a local farmer’s market.

During spring break Jhoana Molina, an information officer for the health department, needed ideas for her kids to keep them busy without depleting her wallet.

“We really enjoy going to the mountain and hiking, and we use the app for that,” Molina said.

County health officials want the app to entice users to see all the Valley has to offer and take advantage of healthy and free options.

The app is available for iPhone and Android smartphones.

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