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Walk for your health

Library Walking Challenge 2013

March 9, 2013
By SHAUNNA DUNDER HERSHBERGER - Lifestyles Editor ( , Times Leader

Are you up for a bit of healthy competition?

If so, polish up your sneakers and head over to the Martins Ferry, Bellaire or St. Clairsville library and sign up for the 2013 Library Walking Challenge, an 11-week walking program that serves as a friendly competition between these three communities to get the most people up and walking for fitness this spring.

Many people use exercise and physical activity as a way to control weight. However, exercise has benefits well beyond keeping weight down. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and colon cancer; reduces depression and anxiety; builds and maintains healthy bones, muscles and joints; and promotes psychological well-being, among other benefits. In addition, people who are active live longer.

The CDC recommends adults get at least two and a half hours (150 minutes) a week of physical activity at a moderate effort (a fast-paced walk). Children should get one hour of activity every day. However, according to the CDC, less than half of adults get enough physical activity to benefit their health.

Walking, however, is the most popular form of physical activity in the U.S. because it's possible for most people and does not require special skills or facilities.

Therefore, what more motivation to you need to sign up? Just stop by the Martins Ferry, Bellaire or St. Clairsville libraries any time before Saturday, March 16 to join in the fun. Registration in the walking program is free to the first 100 participants at each library before the deadline date of March 16. There will be a $15 charge for participants who register after the first 100 and/or after the deadline date. Registration includes a free pedometer, bi-weekly fitness and nutrition coaching sessions and door prizes. The grand prize is an iPod shuffle.

"We are especially pleased to be able to offer this walking challenge to the communities of Bellaire, St. Clairsville and Martins Ferry through the generosity of the American Cancer Society and a Virginia Gasaway Community Investment Grant," said Polly Loy, Extension Educator - Family and Consumer Sciences for the OSU Extension in Belmont County. "The first 100 participants to sign up at each library will receive a free pedometer to monitor their progress of increasing their number of steps each week."

Throughout the challenge, participants will keep track of their average steps per day and work towards personal goals of increasing their number of steps walked. The library with the most participation will be the winner.

"We thought that we could make things a little more interesting for participants by including a competitive element between the communities," Loy explained. "The winning community will have the most participants sign up for the program and report their progress regularly throughout the 11 weeks. We will not use step counts for the competition - those will just be used for each person to chart their own progress as they try to increase their steps by 10 percent every two weeks."

In addition, the participating libraries will also offer 45-minute wellness coaching sessions. Registration is not necessary - just attend. Among the topics are "Wading through misinformation," "Smart choices at the grocery," and "Smart choices at the drive thru."

For more information, contact Bellaire Library, or 740-676-9421; Martins Ferry Library, or 740-633-0314; St. Clairsville Library, or 740-695-2062; or Polly Loy, or 740-695-1455.

The 11-week program begins March 18. Registrants must have a library card and be at least 16 years old. Library cards are free to Ohio residents. Bring proof of address to your library to get a library card. Participants under 18 years of age must have written permission from a parent or guardian.

The walking challenge is sponsored by Ohio State University Extension, Belmont County and Martins Ferry, Bellaire and St. Clairsville Libraries and funded by a Virginia Gasaway Community Investment Grant from the American Cancer Society.



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