Award-Winning Program Challenges Participants to Take 10,000 Steps a Day
With the arrival of spring, many folks are looking for ways to get in better shape, and, for the second year, Get Fit Maryland is helping people take the first step toward a healthier body. Get Fit Maryland is a 12-week wellness program that gives participants pedometers to track how many steps they take each day. Walkers start logging their steps April 1. With an awareness of how much (or how little) they are moving, participants can increase their daily activity and decrease their risk for problems such as heart disease and diabetes.
"Americans are packing on the pounds, and that increased weight is putting them at risk for serious health problems," explains Kari Bichell, M.D., M.P.H., medical director for Get Fit Maryland and an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
She adds, "Get Fit Maryland provides a way for people to try to add 2,000 more steps each day, with the ultimate goal of walking 10,000 steps each day, which translates into about four to five miles, depending on the walker's stride. We also provide information to help people improve their health in other ways such as learning correct portion sizes."
The University of Maryland Medical Center, University of Maryland School of Medicine and Merritt Athletic Clubs launched Get Fit Maryland to increase awareness of the obesity epidemic and cardiovascular disease. Last year, approximately 3,000 Marylanders joined the inaugural program.
Although not intended as a weight loss plan, many Get Fit Maryland participants reported losing weight during the 12 weeks. In a post-program survey, the average reported weight loss was five pounds.
"Get Fit Maryland shows people that by making relatively small changes and including regular physical activity in their lives, even the most sedentary individuals can improve their health," says Terry Dezzutti, chief operating officer at Merritt Athletic Clubs.
Get Fit Maryland won the 2005 Best of the Best award from Club Industry magazine, a national publication for the fitness industry. This year, the program is even better with new durable, easy-to-use pedometers, new prizes and the ability for participants to track their steps online through the program's Website www.getfitmaryland.org.
GET FIT MARYLAND: STEP BY STEP
Registration: The Get Fit Maryland kit comes with a pedometer, log book, pen, temporary tattoo and health information cards on serving sizes, body mass index, walking and calorie counting. Those who register also receive a free 30-day membership to Merritt Athletic Clubs. The cost is $10 per person or $15 for two people. This year, children between the ages of five and 12 can join the program and receive a special Get Fit Maryland kit for $5.
Participants can register at any Merritt Athletic Club from March 20 to 31, weekdays 9 a.m. - noon and 5 p.m. - 8 p.m., and Saturdays 8 a.m. - noon.
During those days, registration will also be available at the University of Maryland Medical Center, 22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, in the Weinberg Building's Patient Resource Center. Times for this registration site are available at www.getfitmaryland.org.
People on the Eastern Shore and in Western Maryland can register at Area Health Education Centers in Cumberland and Cambridge, and at locations of the Maryland Statewide Health Network in Hagerstown, Salisbury and Waldorf. Addresses and times for these locations can be found on www.getfitmaryland.org.
Incentives: Folks who stick with the program earn rewards. Participants can bring their step logs to a Merritt Athletic Club, the University of Maryland Medical Center's Patient Resource Center or another registration site.
Seminars: Get Fit Maryland participants can also take advantage of free seminars on fitness and nutrition.
Partners: Get Fit Maryland partners and sponsors include the Office of the Governor; Aetna; the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Diabetes Association; the American Heart Association; Aquafina; baltimoresun.com; the Baltimore Orioles; the Baltimore Times; Bayer; CBS Radio; Carefirst BlueCross, BlueShield; Charm City Run; Comcast; Eastern Shore AHEC; Kelly and Associates; Maryland General Hospital; Medifast; NAS Recruitment Communications; Print Partners; Tessco; Trahan, Burden and Charles; University of Maryland Statewide Health Network; Webb/Mason; Western Maryland AHEC; WYPR.
For patient inquiries, call 1-800-492-5538 or click here to make an appointment.