Governor Martin O'Malley Serves as Honorary Chairman; Ray Lewis Foundation Supports Get Fit Maryland Program; Registration Extended Until Oct. 17
Walking is now Maryland’s official state exercise, and this fall, thousands of Marylanders will be taking the first step toward better health by joining Get Fit Maryland, a 12- week walking and wellness program developed by the University of Maryland Medical Center, the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Merritt Athletic Clubs. Get Fit Maryland participants use pedometers to track how many steps they take each day, with a goal of increasing their steps and daily activity in order decrease their risks for health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.
“In spite of warnings about increased health risks from obesity, Americans are continuing to gain weight. Today, about two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. Get Fit Maryland offers a simple way to get started on the path toward increased activity and better health,” says Verlyn Warrington, M.D., medical director for Get Fit Maryland and an assistant professor of family and community medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Get Fit Maryland challenges participants to add 2,000 more steps each day, with the ultimate goal of walking at least 10,000 steps, which translates to about five miles. Now in its fourth year, Get Fit Maryland has enrolled nearly 8,000 participants, including more than 500 Baltimore city schoolchildren who took part in Get Fit Kids, a program launched last year. Because children are more active than adults, their goal is 13,000 steps a day.
“The kids love the Get Fit program because the pedometer gives them immediate feedback about how much or how little they are moving,” explains Anne Williams, R.N., who heads Get Fit Kids and is director of the Patient Resource Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center. “Nearly 20 percent of children in this country are overweight. Get Fit Kids shows these young students that adding more activity into their daily lives can be fun and easy.”
In 2008, Get Fit Kids returns to several city elementary schools, including Bentalou, Westside and Mt. Washington, and one school in Baltimore County, Rodgers Forge Elementary. While the students will receive monthly incentives for sticking with the program, the school with the most steps will also receive a special prize.
Several Maryland businesses are also joining Get Fit Maryland as a way to help their employees improve their health. These companies include a law firm, an insurance company and two retirement communities.
The average American adult takes about 900-3,000 steps a day, while most adults need 10,000 steps to maintain or lose weight. Other activities such as biking or swimming can be included in the step count. Conversion charts are available on the Internet.
“Many people are not aware of how sedentary they’ve become,” says Terry Dezzutti, chief operating officer at Merritt Athletic Clubs. “Get Fit Maryland demonstrates that by getting people to be more aware of their activity level and showing them simple ways to increase it, even the most sedentary individuals can lower their risks for problems like cardiovascular disease. Overall, we hope to have 5,000 Marylanders counting their steps this year.”
Governor Martin O’Malley serves as Get Fit Maryland’s honorary chairman. This year, he signed legislation making walking Maryland’s official state exercise. Get Fit Maryland also has the support of the Ray Lewis Foundation. “Exercise is a lifestyle, not a job. Being fit and healthy is the key to life,” says Lewis, an all-pro defensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens.
GET FIT MARYLAND: STEP BY STEP
Registration: Participants can sign-up at any Merritt Athletic Club from September 16 through October 17. The cost is $12 per person or $20 for two people. To save time filling out paperwork, people can pre-register on-line at www.getfitmaryland.org, print out their registration and bring it to a registration site.
Registration is also available at the University of Maryland’s Patient Resource Center starting on September 18. Times at this location vary, so participants can go to www.getfitmaryland.org for more details.
Participants receive a pedometer, log book and pen to record progress, useful tips on walking, information on burning off the calories from specific foods, and a pass for a free 30-day membership to Merritt Athletic Clubs.
Children between ages 5-12 can join Get Fit Maryland for $6.
Incentives: Folks who stick with the program earn rewards. Participants can bring their step logs to a Merritt Athletic Club or the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Patient Resource Center to pick-up their prizes.
Week 4 – Carabiner water bottle holder
Week 8 – Frisbee
Week 12 – Long-sleeve t-shirt
Participants who complete all 12 weeks will be entered into a drawing to win Ray Lewis autographed Ravens memorabilia, a Nintendo® Wii™ complete with Wii Fit™ game software or a one-year membership to Merritt Athletic Clubs.
Partners: The Baltimore Times, CBS Radio, Pepsi/Aquafina, Print Partners, Ray Lewis Foundation, State of Maryland, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Trahan, Burden and Charles, and Webb Mason.
For more information: www.getfitmaryland.org
For patient inquiries, call 1-800-492-5538 or click here to make an appointment.