Sun, fun and exercise: Belleville employees take part in National Walking Day

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BELLEVILLE, NJ — Nicole Netzke was enjoying the sun-splashed afternoon as she strolled down Washington Avenue.

“It’s just great to get out and enjoy the beautiful day and get some exercise,” said Netzke, who works in the construction code department in Belleville. “The past year, with COVID-19 and all, we’ve been cooped up. It’s a great idea to get out and walk for a while.”

Netzke was one of approximately 35 township employees from various departments who took part in Belleville’s celebration of National Walking Day on April 7.

Spearheaded by Councilman Vinny Cozzarelli, the event invited township employees to push themselves away from their desks and gather in front of Town Hall. Members of the Belleville Police Department acted as chaperones for the group, which walked about a mile to Signature Fitness on Cortlandt Street. Using yoga mats lined outside the gym, several township employees were led in a 20-minute yoga session by Signature Fitness’ Ann Maggio. After sampling some healthy snacks, such as fruit cups and cold spring water, the employees set a course back for Town Hall. Although a shuttle was available to drive them back, the majority of township workers decided to walk back.

“Setting aside 30 minutes or an hour to be active and stay healthy is always a great investment of time,” Cozzarelli said. “This initiative was designed to get people up, get them outside, get them moving and help them literally take the first steps toward creating healthier habits.”

National Walking Day is held on the first Wednesday of every April to celebrate the easiest way to be the healthiest version of you. Walking for 30 to 60 minutes each day has often been cited as a great way to stay healthy and fend off diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Walking has also been shown to boost mood and increase concentration and creativity — all of which leads to more productivity at work or school.

“Events like the National Walking Day are more important now than ever,” Melham said. “So many of us have had our lives greatly interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year. We can start taking steps to getting back to a healthy, active lifestyle.”

The long walk also went a long way in fostering camaraderie among Belleville workers.

“You have people here from the tax collector’s department, from the police department, from the clerk’s office and other parts of the township,” township manager Anthony Iacono said. “They may not necessarily interact on a regular basis. This was a fun, positive way to bring them together.”

Photos Courtesy of Belleville Township