August 22, 2008

Dayani Center steps up, takes top honors in walking challenge

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(photo by Mary Donaldson)

Dayani Center steps up, takes top honors in walking challenge

The Dayani Center for Health and Wellness took top honors in the Medical Fitness Association's seven-day walking challenge, ranking first for highest average number of steps per person.

Dayani Center members and staff competed, with 41 participants walking an average of 119,206 steps during the week.

This is the second year the Dayani Center has placed first.

“It's exciting to be recognized with a national award,” said Regina Tyree, exercise specialist. “I was floored that we won last year, but nervous this year because we had a lower number of participants. So I was very excited and proud we could do it two years in a row.”

Participants tracked their steps over a week in April using digital pedometers, and then reported the numbers to Tyree to be tallied. They could also convert other physical activity, like swimming or weightlifting, into steps to include in their count. Each individual's goal was 70,000 total steps during the week. As an incentive, gift cards were offered to the highest steppers individually and on three-person teams.

Jay Groves, administrative director of the Dayani Center, said there are many keys to the Center's success.

“We've built a culture around the use of digital pedometers for various programs, so members are familiar with their use. Regina makes it easy to record and report steps, and she gives them incentives, and our members really enthusiastically embrace the contest and participate,” he said.

But their “inside secret” is the Music City Marathon. It is held the same week, so a few participants in training, thus taking more steps. However, “Members work hard to get those steps,” Tyree said.

Though the competition is only a week long, organizers want participants to continue stepping afterward.

“The goal is to get people more active. We hope it will translate to more physical activity throughout the year,” Groves said.

“It gets everyone focused for one week on their physical activity level. It's great to hear stories from people about how they have been able to continue getting more steps or have worked on being more active and making changes since the competition,” Tyree said.

The walking challenge was part of the Medical Fitness Association's Medical Fitness Week. A grand total of 449,693,820 steps were taken by nearly 9,000 participants this year.