By John W. Coleman
Members and guests attending Annual Conference this week will have plenty of chances to get their hearts and hips—yes, hips—moving, all to benefit their health. Doing what, you ask? Well, that answer also begins with an “H”: Hulapalooza!
Hulapalooza promotes hula-hooping as a group activity to help members of the UMC creatively and competitively pursue heart-healthy physical fitness, along with healthy doses of fun and fellowship.
Sure, walking, running, swimming and biking are fine for strenuous exercise. But hip-rotating hula-hooping is an ideal, global, fun activity for all ages. And it offers a rare chance to look funny—maybe even silly—while doing something really smart: moving one’s body to ensure good health.
Bishop Jonathan Holston of the South Carolina Conference got this fitness craze started in the UMC last year to help promote the denomination’s new Abundant Health global initiative administered by the UMC’s Global Ministries agency. That initiative supports the quest to achieve better health and the urgent need to combat lethal diseases, like malaria, around the world. It follows our years-long, successful, global fundraising campaign to fight the spread of malaria in Africa through several measures, primarily the purchase of mosquito-proof bed nets to protect children and adults.
Now we are focused more broadly on promoting Abundant Health at home and abroad through ongoing support for global health initiatives but also encouraging members to live healthy lifestyles closer to home.
“Something we all can do locally is to promote the physical health of our members by encouraging exercise and proper diet,” wrote Bishop Peggy Johnson in a February Bishop’s Blog essay, “Abundant Health, Abundant Life.” “Obesity and high blood pressure is an epidemic in our country and sadly even among our clergy. Hula-hooping is a way to get moving and have fun at the same time.”
“I am encouraging all churches to get hula-hoops or find other ways to get our members and pastors moving,” she wrote, inviting youth groups and Sunday School classes to sponsor a “hula-thons” to raise funds for global health. “We need exercise programs that can improve our physical health and draw awareness to the importance of the enhanced life a healthy body can bring.”
So, this week, the Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits will supply each conference member with a hula hoop and urge all of us to “get moving” and put them to good, healthy use. In fact, they will turn this activity into a game and integrate it into our new EPA Annual Conference Mobile App game.
The Benefits Office is calling for members to engage in “how long can you last” hula-hoop duels at the Expo Center during our three-day conference. And if spectators take and upload smartphone photos of hula-hoop duels to our Mobile App’s #GetMovingEPAUMC feed, they can score points. Engaging a Cabinet member or a youth member in a Hula-Hoop Challenge can score extra points.