November 21, 2013 | Vol. 39, No. 47

Pedometer challenge to continue this spring

Petersburg Mental Health Services will take the reins on running a second Pedometer Challenge this spring after Petersburg Indian Association found out it couldn’t secure grant funding for the program.

Interest in last year’s challenge sparked and Mark Banda, PIA Tobacco Prevention Specialist saw participation double from what was expected.

“What started out at about 150 assumed participants turned into 200 very quickly and that followed up and turned into over 300,” Banda said.

Banda gave pedometers to participants who were able to track how many steps they took over time. Banda compiled submitted step numbers and after about four months whoever took the most steps in different categories won prizes.

“I’ve never seen the community get so involved,” said PMHS Senior Clinician Kim Kilkenny. “Very diverse groups got involved, especially the businesses, so there was a lot of challenge and public smack talking and things like that.”

When Kilkenny found out PIA didn’t have funding to repeat the challenge she decided to write her own grant.

Part of the grant’s goal is to make people aware of the issues of obesity and diabetes in Petersburg.

According to 2013 Petersburg School District data cited in the PMHS grant, 35 percent of K-12 students are classified as overweight or obese by Centers of Disease Control Standards.

Petersburg Medical Center lists obesity as the third highest reason for clinic visits.

The new name for the program is being called the 10,000 Steps Community Campaign and Challenge Program and it will kick off this spring.

Kilkenny said studies show measuring steps is more motivational than encouraging an exercise time duration.

“Typically people walk around 5,000 steps a day and the recommended amount is 10,000,” Kilkenny said.

In the meantime, PMHS will distribute resources to businesses across town aiming to encourage exercise and implement wellness programs.

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