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Monday, June 30, 2008

Another Successful Walking Program--on Capitol Hill

Finally, some encouraging health news out of Washington.

More than 3,500 House and Senate staffers have spent the last six weeks racking up as many steps as possible as part of the WalkingWorks Capitol Hill Challenge, an annual pedometer walking program that pits state delegations and Hill offices against each other over something other than votes, for once.

Based both on both total miles and average miles per walker, this Congressional fitness contest is sponsored by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which insures a majority of federal workers.

In our experience, not only are these types of programs cost-effective (each participant in the Capitol Hill Challenge was given a $4.99 pedometer) but they also show huge returns, in terms of short-term weight loss and the "light" about the fun and value of walking go on in the heads sedentary people. With the right follow-up, you can help people change their behavior long-term.

A New York Times article on the contest details how many Congressmen, women and their staffers have become obsessed with adding as many steps as possible to their day—figuring out that leading a Capitol tour for constituents added more than 2,000 steps, for one. With health care looming large in the upcoming election, it makes sense for politicos to be “living what they are legislating,” says the story.

One Congresswoman’s experience, per the Times:

“On a recent Wednesday, a pedometer was clipped to the skirt of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican, as she walked around the Russell Senate Office Building. Ms. Hutchison, 64, whose office was fourth in overall miles as of Week 3, and who gets up at 5 most mornings to walk three miles, was already well on her way to reaching the goal of 10,000 steps a day (about five miles) recommended by health experts.”

If you want to start a walking program, it's easy to do yourself. Here's some great info on walking programs from the American Heart Association. We're happy to help too, of course.

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