Health Fitness Revolution and its founder Samir Becic have created a list of the Top 10 Fittest Mayors 2018. Since 2013, HFR has been creating lists of the fittest politicians in various branches of government in order to motivate Americans to embrace a healthier lifestyle.
Lubbock, Texas, Mayor Dan Pope not only wakes up early at 5:30 a.m. to workout, but he is also a big proponent of corporate wellness! As a successful business owner, he values the importance of employee health to the productivity of the workforce.
Congratulations Mayor Pope for being named among the Top 10 Fittest Mayors in America 2018! This automatically qualifies Mayor Pope to be considered for HFR’s upcoming Top 25 Fittest Politicians in America 2018.
Samir: I’m looking at the stuff that you are doing in Lubbock, and you are doing an amazing job! I see that you created the Mayor’s Marathon, could you tell me a little bit more about that?
Mayor Pope: Well, first we created a mayor’s fitness council in Lubbock. The mayor’s fitness council was created in conjunction with the Texas Tech University Health Science Center and the Chamber of Commerce. We had it called “Healthy Lubbock” and we folded that all into the mayor’s fitness council. Then, the mayor’s fitness council decided that they wanted to do a big event and decided to do the Mayor’s Marathon, which we held for the first time in April of this year and it was very successful. The loop around Lubbock is averaged to be 26 miles around, so we closed the loop down that Sunday morning and we ran around the loop, it was sort of a unique marathon course.
Samir: Excellent! You are doing a really great job and thank you for being a great ambassador of a healthy lifestyle. Thank you for motivating America to be healthier and fitter. Mayor, could you tell me what your typical day looks like? You have a very difficult position because you are mayor and have lots of responsibilities. What do you do to relieve stress?
Mayor Pope: I go to the gym. Most mornings I go to the gym at 5:30. On the weekends, I often don’t, I maybe go for a jog or sleep in. You know, at 55, I have found that four days a week of exercise is probably sufficient, but I have an hour-long workout that I do in the mornings. It probably isn’t hurting me mentally as much as it is physically, because it allows me to clear my head and to be prepared for the day and to help me work through some of the stress in my life by just getting a good bit of exercise.
Samir: I agree with you 100 percent. I actually wrote a book called “ReSync Your Life” and it talks about the mental aspect of the body, and how the mental and the physical both influence each other. So you are right. You are a very successful man, otherwise you wouldn’t be the mayor of one of the largest cities in America. So tell me, how has being active and fit influenced your career?
Mayor Pope: I ran a small business for 20 years. I like to be active, I like to get things done and I really believe that feeling good, and being fit, and eating well allows you to be successful.
Samir: We’re losing billions of dollars in sick days, less productivity, because we have lots of Americans who are obese. George W. Bush stated, “Exercise is so important that corporate America should help its employees make time. There should be a flexible time for families and there should be flexible time for exercise. A healthy workforce is a more productive workforce. We have got to do a better job of encouraging exercise in America.” What is your stance on that?
Mayor Pope: I agree. When we ran our small business, we had incentives for people to take care of themselves. I was on the Lubbock school board for nine years. We implemented a wellness plan that offered incentives for our employees that paid for their gym memberships if they would go and use it. If they were willing to do our annual well check and their markers were good, they got a discount on their insurance. We need to create incentives because not everybody will do this without incentives; we just need to encourage people to be active. But I think it is the responsibility of the public sector to encourage a healthy lifestyle and certainly, we all pay for people through our taxes, especially those who make unhealthy choices.
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Samir: Exactly, and that was my point in making this list and not only the fittest mayors but also fittest senators and governors. We are spending money on healing people who don’t care as much about their health as we do.
Mayor Pope: Correct!
Samir: Children are the future of our country and the obesity rate is rising, especially among children. Type 2 diabetes among children has doubled in the last 15 to 20 years. What would you recommend to the American youth in terms of healthy lifestyle?
Mayor Pope: Well, that is one of the reasons we created our fitness council, to try to reach out to kids. There have been some different groups in our community that have worked hard on childhood obesity and last year I had two chances to run with the children. I ran in the spring for a Run for the Arts one-mile run with the children, and at Christmas I participated in a run that was organized by the Marine Reserves, and a “Toys for Tots” kinda run. I ran with the children instead of running the longer race because we encourage kids to do what we did. Where I grew up in central Texas, we played outside and we came home when the sun went down. We did not sit in front of the TV, we rode our bikes, played ball, and did all kinds of active things. I encourage that kind of lifestyle and that doesn’t mean that kids don’t need to sit in front of the TV screen or whatever, but we need to get kids outside. I am a big fan of safe neighborhoods, and I am a fan of sports and a fan of just getting outside to play.
Samir: I agree with you, we are socializing with our children too much behind dining tables and socializing with food and drinks instead of going out there, being outdoors, being more active. I grew up in Germany which is actually the strongest European economy, but when I came to America I realized this is the greatest country. We are the leaders in democracy, economy, military strengths, and we are the leaders in everything except physical fitness. I think we also need to be leaders in physical fitness, what is your stance on that?
Mayor Pope: I don’t disagree, I believe we should lead in everything, so I don’t see why we can’t lead in this idea also.
Samir: How can we motivate corporations? How we can motivate the media to be more pro-health-conscious?
Mayor Pope: I think corporations are generally where the incentives are, and they are in business to make a profit and if you can increase productivity and reduce absenteeism and reduce healthcare costs then why should we not do it.
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