With the fitness message of "Just Do Something" getting lost on many who don't know what that "something" is, the suggestion to count steps during the day may be a starting point.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), in conjunction with a Reebok sponsorship, will take a Colorado endeavor called "Colorado On the Move" to a national level later this month with a program called "America On the Move" that does just that -- asks people to count their daily steps.
The Colorado program -- supported by the state government -- encourages people to wear pedometers for a week and find out how many steps a day they are walking. Then, with that baseline, people can try to increase those steps week-to-week by as few as 50 or 100.
"We purposely don't call it a 10,000-steps-day program because it's not," spokeswoman Helen Thompson told SNEWS. The program is about finding out how much you move in daily living, she said, then trying to increase that.
"Everybody can play, and everybody can win," she said.
The Colorado pilot program came to pass when James Hill, Ph.D., director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the School of Medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, sat down with a group in August 2001 to talk about the problem of increasing obesity and weight gain and possible ways to stop the gain.
Their calculations showed that with only about 50 extra calories a day a person could gain 2 pounds in a year, which over time accumulates to the 10 or 20 or more extra pounds that contribute to health problems.
"We are trying to prevent weight gain, not increase weight loss," she said about the program.
So they then calculated that to use those extra 50 to 100 calories a day, a person would have to walk about 2,000 steps, or about a mile, which would take about 15 to 20 minutes. Most people move about 5,000 to 6,000 steps a day in daily living, she said, but some get as few as 3,000. That means that 10,000 steps a day is approximately a rather ambitious five miles.
The kickoff for the Colorado program (www.coloradoonthemove.org) was Oct. 3, 2002, which was declared "Colorado on the Move" day by the governor. The Reebok- and ACSM-supported "America on the Move" day will kick off later this month or in early July and be modeled after that program.
The American College of Sports Medicine (www.acsm.org) quietly announced the program at its annual meeting last week, calling it a campaign for the group's 50th anniversary to promote increased physical activity. It will involve public service announcements, as well as TV commercials promoting physical activity, but will also tap into its sports medicine professional membership for promotion. This is one way ACSM is starting to focus its efforts in promoting fitness to consumers.
"We think this 'On the Move' program is an excellent vehicle," said James Whitehead, ACSM executive vice president. "The bigger picture is, we're looking for all kinds of ways to outreach directly to the public."
The ACSM program outlines how participants -- either individually or as a team -- can "walk" the 330 miles from Madison, Wis., (the birthplace of ACSM) to Indianapolis, Ind., (its current home) in the next year. That would require about 12,000 steps a week. Winners will earn Reebok product from treadmills to shoes to apparel. For details, click here.
For Reebok's part, the company told SNEWS it would launch its support campaign later this month with shoe box and retailer information: If someone buys a pair of Reebok walking shoes, they get a kit that includes a walking log, information on the program, and an AccuSplit pedometer emblazoned not only with Reebok but also with the America On the Move logo.
"We feel the obligation to support the inactive as well as the athletes," Kathy O'Connell-Johnson, Reebok vice president for Vector division marketing, told SNEWS.
When the America-wide program kicks off in a few weeks, organizers hope not only more major national corporations will get involved, but that others for example in the fitness and sporting goods industries will take part.
"Everybody has to play," Thompson said. "They have to be part of the solution."
SNEWS View: This program has already developed into an interesting three-way partnership: a non-profit association that has until now been involved mostly in activities for the sports medicine professional, one of the largest sporting goods and fitness footwear/apparel companies in the world, and a locally focused grassroots campaign. With enough support -- and additional backing by other groups, companies and even retailers -- it could be one way to get more people nationally to take that first step to fitness. And once they've taken that first step, who knows where they can go from there?