Last modified: Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Step into Fitness: Expanded worksite wellness program designed to get IU faculty and staff moving
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 11, 2011
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Fitness and wellness experts at Indiana University take their walking seriously. Participation in the IU Campus Recreational Sports annual Step into Fitness walking incentive program has grown steadily -- by almost 10 fold -- since it began in 2005, but organizers still wanted to make sure the free program really helped faculty and staff.
So, they studied it. Fitness and wellness staff from Campus Recreational Sports teamed up with researchers from the Department of Kinesiology, both units of IU Bloomington's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Step into Fitness is designed to encourage faculty and staff to integrate more exercise into their daily routines by walking more.
"Our first study found that the walkers in our program increased their daily step count throughout the four-week program, which is the good news," said Megan Amadeo, who coordinates the Step into Fitness worksite wellness program. "But then their daily step count went back to their old patterns after the program ended. The research concluded that the program needed to be longer to make lasting change."
This year's nine-week Step into Fitness Program will take place, May 30-July 29, with a kick-off event on May 25, from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the foyer of the IU Auditorium. The kick-off event will feature a range of health information and services, including chair massages, blood pressure screenings, free food from Bloomington Bagel Co., and access to a registered dietician and fitness experts. To register for the program, which is presented this year by IU Credit Union, visit http://www.iurecsports.org/step_into_fitness or one of the registration tables that will be available in various campus buildings. (See the schedule listed below.)
Participants in this self-guided program receive free pedometers, while they last, along with step and food trackers. Each week they will receive motivational and informational e-mails from Campus Recreational Sports staff and will be eligible to win weekly incentive prizes.
Walkers also might be asked to participate in ongoing research as the School of HPER tries to determine the most effective structure for the program.
Last year marked the first year the program expanded to nine weeks, with research finding a significant increase in steps after the program ended compared to before it started, and a significant decrease in weight, body mass index and waist circumference.
"We think those improvements were because of the longer program," Amadeo said. "We're continuing our research this year to validate the length of the program."
Amadeo and her colleagues certainly want the stepped up walking to stick with participants beyond the duration of the program. Walkers have less incidence of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other killer diseases, she said. They also live longer, and get mental health and spiritual benefits from the activity.
The studies have involved Jeanne Johnston, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology. Johnston first began studying the program in 2009 to determine whether the type of pedometer mattered when it came to increasing step count (it didn't).
Johnston, whose research interests include worksite wellness efforts, said the expanded Step into Fitness program had a significant and positive impact on physical activity and body composition of participating walkers.
"Such programs are a cost-effective way to impact health and wellness of a worksite population, regardless of their current physical activity level," she said. "These programs can be very economical when delivered in a university or college setting where there is greater population density."
The research findings will be presented at the American College of Sports Medicine's annual meeting this spring. Worksite wellness programs are common, researchers note in their study abstract, but little research has been conducted on such programs in a university or college setting. Co-authors of the ACSM study, in addition to Johnston and Amadeo, are Saurabh S. Thosar, Matt G. Hinman, Chris Arvin and Chris A. Geary.
Step into Fitness registration dates and locations:
- May 16, Kelley School of Business, 12-1 p.m.
- May 16, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
- May 17, Wells Library, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
- May 18, Jordan Hall, 12-1 p.m.
- May 18, Jacobs School of Music, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
- May 19, UITS Wrubel Computing Center, 12-1 p.m.
- May 19, Integrated Science and Accelerator Technology Hall (formerly the IU Cyclotron) 1:30-2:30 p.m.