There are 377 steps to reach the top of the Statue of Liberty. 188 steps lead the way up the hill to the Smith Student Center. One step can begin a change for a person’s health.
Headed by associate professor of exercise and rehabilitative sciences, Dr. Kimberly Smith, the “Walk the Rock” program is a 12-week wellness plan to help individuals become more physically active by using a pedometer to track the number of steps taken each day.
“We are trying to create a culture of wellness on campus,” Smith said.
A major advantage of the program is its flexibility, she said. Rather than meeting on a particular day or time, the program allows students, staff, faculty and administrators to participate throughout their normal routines.
Formerly known as the “10,000 Step Challenge,” Smith felt the program’s new title made a stronger connection with the Slippery Rock community, she said.
“We, the entire SRU campus community, have the opportunity to enhance our own health and wellness, but equally as important, we have the opportunity to impact and inspire others to lead a healthy lifestyle as well,” Smith said.
According to americawalks.org, the percentage of students living within one mile of school who commute by walking is 31 percent. Factors contributing to this include weather conditions and safety of walking paths, the site explains.
While driving is a convenient and sometimes necessary means of travel to, from or across campus, Smith encourages participants to park further away from their buildings, walk the long route to class or take a study break and explore one of the trail systems on campus.
“Walk the Rock” registration was held Sep. 11 from 2 to 5 p.m. and Sept. 12 from noon to 2 p.m. in the Patterson Hall Lobby, Smith said. All participants received a walking log, available routes on campus and the option to purchase a pedometer for $8. Smith also encouraged participants to use their own pedometers if they were more comfortable with that option.
Free apps such as “Map My Walk” and “Moves” are available for Apple and Android products – some are as simple as a step counter while others allow users to track weight and nutrition habits as well.
All participants will also receive weekly emails with health information, prize challenges, upcoming events and a list of featured walkers.
“Last semester, our highest recorded step [count] for an individual participant was 1,489,664 steps – which is an average of 17,734 steps per day,” Smith said.
As a part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s (PASSHE) Healthy U program, employees who complete at least nine of the 12 weeks can earn 25 Healthy U points that contributes towards their eligibility for discounted health care rates.
“Regular physical activity has significant health benefits including a lower risk of developing or dying from cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and type II diabetes, and improving the health of muscles, bones and joints,” Smith said.
The cost of treating illness and chronic disease due to an inactive lifestyle is nearly $1,000 for every family in America, every year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“I hope that we can get a large number of ‘Walk the Rock’ participants who are dedicated to creating and maintaining a culture of wellness on our campus,” Smith said.
Smith also said that each step that participants record will help remind individuals of the progress and substantial health benefits they are making every day. Her goal is to enroll 350 participants to walk a total of 100 million steps.
Whether your goal is to walk up the Statue of Liberty or walk without having to catch your breath, it all begins by taking that first step.