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Club encourages daily exercise

Meghan Thomassen | Tuesday, November 13, 2012

One million steps.

WalkND, Notre Dame’s official and free walking club, challenged members of the Notre Dame community this fall to don pedometers and walk that many steps in 100 days in exchange for weekly giveaways and better health.

Conner Edelbrock, fitness intern at RecSports, said the challenge helped grow the club this year.

“One of our goals is to reach a wider audience of people participating in walking every single day,” Edelbrock said.

WalkND has 362 members, Edelbrock said, and is open to faculty, students, staff and their spouses. Over 50 percent of the members are faculty and staff, while students form 25 percent of the club.

“The big incentive program for the fall semester was 1,000,000 steps in 100 days, [which is] 10,000 steps a day,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of success with it.”

WalkND also recently collaborated with the Humane Society of St. Joseph County to connect walkers with over 60 dogs that need exercise. There will be an information session this Friday at the Humane Society at 5 p.m. for students interested in volunteering.

Jennifer Phillips, assistant director of fitness at RecSports, said the club started when Human Resources offered to subsidize the pedometers and log books two years ago. RecSports is responsible for the administrative work and organizing the program’s events and incentives, she said.

“Walking is something most people can do,” Phillips said. “It’s a simple way for people to improve their health. We wanted to at least put a more structured program out there, where it was simple for people to do it on their own. It doesn’t cost anything. … We just provide the structure, motivation and education about walking as an exercise.”

To increase their step quota, members can park farther away in the parking lot, take the stairs or walk to the post office on campus, Phillips said.

“[We are] just helping people with being more creative in incorporating exercise into their day,” she said. “The beauty of walking is you just need to put on a pair of shoes and walk out your front door. You don’t need to pack a bag. You don’t need to take a shower after necessarily. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. You don’t have to take up your lunch hour.”

She also said off-campus locations are good alternatives to the routes available around campus, such as the Dunes National Lake Shore or the parks along St. Joseph River.

“I would highly recommend going over to Lake Michigan,” she said. “You feel like you’re in a totally different world. There are cute little beach towns, like New Buffalo and St. Joseph and great restaurants, and you can walk along the beach.”

Phillips said research has shown people can start seeing improvement in their health when they walk 10,000 steps a day, which is about five miles for the average adult.

“They can see improvements like a drop in blood pressure, maybe a drop in cholesterol, improved sleeping, improved concentration levels or improved immunity functions.”