Recently my husband and I had the exciting opportunity to participate the first of seven themed HOOFit Walks at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. OhioHealth has teamed with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium to invite visitors to “take a walk on the well side” by taking a short walk guided by knowledgeable zoo keepers paired with OhioHealth doctors. A free program with your paid zoo admission, this walking program is a great way to inspire better health for yourself and your family.
HOOFit Walk Check-In
Upon entering the zoo, friendly HOOFit volunteers greeted us wearing lime-green HOOFit shirts. They helped to direct us to the Activity Pavilion for the start of the walk. Only a short distance away from the gate, well marked signage made it was easy to find.
I took this time to clip on my pedometer so I could see how many steps I took during our visit. A general steps chart was provided for our convenience and is included here.
After signing in with the HOOFit team and being shown our group, we took the time to meet our fellow walkers, our zoo keeper, and our doctor while helping ourselves to some refreshments.
Our keeper explained to us that during the busier season they have different colored flags to help everyone stay with the right group since each group visits different places. I found this to be interesting since this meant that each time we return for a different HOOFit walk there is potential for a completely unique experience with new animals, new facts, new people, and a new health themed topic.
Keeper Facts on the HOOFit Walk
For this visit, the health topic was Wellness and Prevention. The walk itself was nicely paced and easily enjoyed by walkers of all types. In fact, the entire park was quite stroller and wheelchair friendly. The tour was brief enough that accompanying children will not get bored yet informative enough to be an enjoyable and educational experience for adults. While we only made a few stops, it was a very personalized zoo experience. Facts we learned about the animals were ones you would not learn by simply reading the signs next to exhibits.
Our keeper explained that an added perk to the timing of the walks is that many of the animals are more active during morning hours. He was enthusiastic to point out that getting to see the Alligator Snapping Turtle swimming around and the Rattle Snake yawning and showing its fangs were special treats since both are often very motionless. Through his excitement, I was able to appreciate these simple movements in a new way.
On a typical zoo visit, I probably would not think twice about a snake shape on the ground in front of the Python exhibit, but our keeper explained that the imprint was an outline of the Python’s mother, the longest recorded snake in a zoo. These are details to which people who design zoos pay careful attention that we often take for granted.
It was fascinating to hear how red and green “ping-pong-like” paddles were used to assist in physical therapy for a Flying Fox Bat whose wing had been broken.
It was hard to believe that we were getting to talk one-on-one with a keeper during a free program when it is often necessary to pay extra for personal zoo tours.
Talk and Walk with a HOOFit Doctor
Through the details the keeper shared with us, the doctor paired in our group was able to relate important things back to us. For instance, strong emphasis was placed on the importance of diet and exercise being key factors in preventing many medical problems including diabetes. He explained that just like keepers having a close relationship with the animals is imperative to their health, having a close relationship with our physicians and keeping routine checkups can help prevent and catch problems early. Similar to how zoos keep and share information about each animal’s genealogy, knowing, understanding, and sharing family history with your doctor can help them in diagnosis and treatment of many medical conditions.
Our doctor also touched base on fascinating facts. For example, studying how snakes digest their foods and monitoring triglycerides is helping to understand human digestion and hearth health. While observing the Gila monster exhibit, he explained how their venom is being used to treat diabetics.
Also making this entire experience unique is the questions asked by fellow walkers. Several made me think of things I might not have thought about previously. Typically we do not often have the opportunity to converse on a personal level with our doctors. While these walks and talks are not a replacement for actually seeing your doctor, they may definitely help those who are hesitant to talk to their doctor feel more comfortable. Our doctors are a wealth of information in taking preventative measures, and the HOOFit walks stress their key role. All too often we do not visit the doctor until we are already having a problem, so be sure to make your doctor part of your family’s wellness and prevention routine.
Plan Your Next HOOFit Walk
After our walk, there was plenty of time to eat lunch and see the other animal exhibits.
There were plenty of restroom locations and places to eat. I also noticed there are nursing stations.
Our family really enjoyed the HOOFit walk, and I cannot wait to go to the next one. Whether you are beginning a new health fitness goal or switching up your old fitness routine, I hope to see you there. You can RSVP for HOOFit Walks on the Ohio Health Website or just show up and walk to a better you. Each walk is FREE with paid zoo admission.
My family cannot wait to go back to discover more at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium!
Columbus Zoo HOOFit Walks
Pick the HOOFit Walk with a theme that matches your interests.
- April 25 – Stroke Prevention
- May 23 – Cancer Prevention
- June 20 – Sports Medicine
- July 25 – Spine Health (Neuroscience and Orthopedics)
- August 29 – Women’s Heart and Vascular Health
- September 26 – Cold weather wellness
Primary Care Physicians at the Wellness and Prevention HOOFit
- Bruce Barker, MD (OhioHealth Marion Area Physicians, Delaware Office)
- Kimberly Austin, MD (Westerville Primary Care)
- Spencer Pinion, MD (Grant Family Practice Center)
- Sean Barnes, MD (Millhon Clinic)
- Heather Hines, DO (OhioHealth Primary Care Physicians)
- Gregory Whisman, MD (Lewis Center Medical Group)
- Randhir Sharma, MD (Downtown Physicians)
HOOFit walks begin at 9:30 and last 45 min – 1 hour to walk. Wear a pedometer, or download a pedometer app on your smartphone.
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Win 4 FREE Tickets to the Columbus Zoo for HOOFit Walks
You have the chance to win 4 FREE Tickets to the Columbus Zoo for the Thursday, April 25, 2013 HOOFit Walk. (Tickets can only be used on 4-25-13)
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This was not a paid post. My own opinions were used based on my perceptions and experience. Thank you to the Columbus Zoo who provided the tickets for review and giveaway.