Registration is April 18-May 13 for Program to Improve Fitness and Fight Obesity; Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. Serves as Honorary Chairman
You may notice your friends and neighbors walking more places and taking the stairs over the next few months. As part of “Get Fit Maryland,” thousands of area residents will be wearing pedometers as they strive to improve their health by taking 10,000 steps a day.
The University of Maryland Medical Center, University of Maryland School of Medicine and Merritt Athletic Clubs have joined forces to launch this 12-week program to increase awareness of the obesity epidemic and cardiovascular disease. The Get Fit Maryland program includes prize incentives, seminars on weight loss and fitness, health screenings and 30-day free memberships to Merritt Athletic Clubs – a total value of $200. The official day to start counting steps is May 1.
“More than 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, putting them at risk for problems like heart disease and diabetes,” says Suzanne Sysko, M.D., medical director of the Center for Weight Management and Wellness at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
“Many people aren’t aware of how sedentary they’ve become, but adding just three hours of walking a week can greatly reduce your health risks,” adds Dr. Sysko, who is also an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
The average American takes about 900-3,000 steps a day, while most people need 10,000 steps, roughly five miles, to maintain or lose weight. Get Fit Maryland participants will use their pedometers to count how many steps they take each day. The program will also guide them on ways to increase those numbers. For those who’d rather bike or swim, the program provides information on how to convert other types of exercise into a daily step count.
“Our goal is to show people that by making relatively small changes, from an inactive lifestyle to one that includes moderate but regular physical activity, even the most sedentary individuals can prevent cardiovascular disease and improve their quality of life. Overall, we hope to have 5,000 Marylanders counting their steps,” says Terry Dezzutti, Chief Operating Officer at Merritt Athletic Clubs.
Get Fit Maryland: Step by Step
Registration: Participants can register at any Merritt Athletic Club from April 18 to May 13. The registration packet comes with a pedometer, log books, Get Fit Maryland athletic shoelaces, a magnet, a pen, a health screening assessment, a 30-day free membership to Merritt Athletic Clubs and a seminar schedule. Parental permission is needed for participants under 18 years old. Registration is $8.
Participants can also register in the Patient Resource Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center, 22 S. Greene Street. Registration for this location is April 18-29, weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon.
Several other local businesses have teamed up with Get Fit Maryland to offer the program as a benefit to their employees. Participants in the employee programs can register at their place of employment for a discounted rate of $5.
Employers interested in offering the program to their employees should go to www.getfitmaryland.org/employers for more information.
Seminars: Classes will be held weekly at various Merritt clubs and Giant food stores. Seminar topics include weight loss, diabetes, heart disease and exercise. Participants will receive a seminar schedule when they register or they can check it out on-line at www.getfitmaryland.org/seminar.
Incentives: Participants who stick with the program receive rewards. They must show that they’ve recorded their steps, set a goal for the next four weeks and have attended one of the Get Fit Maryland Seminars. The rewards are:
Month 1 - Get Fit Maryland water bottle
Month 2 - Get Fit Maryland athletic socks
Month 3 - Under Armour® shirt
Official Kickoff: Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. helps get the program off on the right foot at the kickoff celebration on Friday, April 29 at noon in University Plaza, the park across from the University of Maryland Medical Center, 22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore.
Partners: Get Fit Maryland partners and sponsors include the Office of the Governor, Under Armour®, Comcast, Pepsi, Charm City Run, The Baltimore Times, WYPR, ABC2, Giant Food Inc., Takeda, Webb/Mason, Bayer, U.S. Surgical, Hartford Insurance, NCAS and the American Heart Association.
For patient inquiries, call 1-800-492-5538 or click here to make an appointment.