VCU gets walking

Starting a fitness routine, filling gaps between classes and having fun brought many people to James Branch Cabell Library on Tuesday, Sept. 14 to participate in Walking Counts!

A study funded by the Virginia Department of Health, Walking Counts! is a free 10-week walking program designed to increase physical activity among VCU students, faculty and staff.

“I learned about this program through the VCU Web site. It looked like fun, something to do between classes,” said Melanie Poonacha, a graduate student. “I usually work out four times a week, but I would like to increase … my daily activities and get more fit by walking.

Katherine Vatalaro Hill, health educator with the VCU Office of Health Promotion, led walkers on a 25-minute stroll through the Fan District while they used pedometers to track their steps.

Hill said she will collect data and monitor each participant throughout the program.

The staff of the Office of Health Promotion, peer health educators and interns from the School of Nursing serve as walking leaders, who take attendance and select the walking route for each meeting.

Many participants aim to lose weight.

“I want to get back into a regular exercise routine, drop a little bit of weight and become more fit,” said Jim Bostick, director of Academic Computing Services.

Junior Virginia Hendricks said a nutritionist told her about the Walking Counts ! program. Hendricks wants to get exercise between classes.

While some who are involved are inactive, others are looking for alternative workout routines.

This is the first semester VCU has had this program, which was created by Diane B. Wilson, associate professor of internal medicine. It has reached 75 participants, which was the desired number.

A walking program for the spring will depend upon how successful the program is this semester as well as funding.

Walking Counts! meets Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4 p.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays at noon leaving from James Branch Cabell Library. It is open to VCU students, faculty and staff.

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