West Virginia residents and West Virginia University employees are encouraged to take steps to get active this summer with the WVU Extension Service Summer Steps program.
Summer Steps, which runs from June 1 through Aug. 31, challenges counties across the state to increase activity levels by walking, cycling, swimming or participating in any other form of physical activity.

Participants can sign up and track their personal mileage through WVU Extension’s online tracker at fh.ext.wvu.edu. Individuals can register on behalf of their county of residence or WVU department.

While there are many benefits of regular physical activity for individuals, organizers encourage counties and larger groups to support one another in achieving their mileage goals by walking together.

“While many individuals take part in the program, we’re also seeing participants start to form walking groups and initiate lunchtime walking programs,” said Elaine Bowen, Ed.D., WVU Extension health promotions specialist. “Physical activity doesn’t have to be complicated—it can be fun and simple when you have a goal to work toward and a group to walk with.”

Participation is free, anyone is eligible and participants can sign up at any point during the competition. Other forms of physical activity can be counted in the challenge, and twenty minutes of physical activity will be logged as one mile.

Taylor County brought home the title in 2015 with more than 25,000 miles logged, while the WVU Extension Service won in the WVU department category with more than 4,200 miles logged.

In 2015, counties more than doubled the previous year’s Summer Steps mileage with 44,000 miles logged—almost the equivalent of walking around the globe twice.

“We were truly amazed with the participation in last year’s Summer Steps challenge and hope to see even higher numbers this summer,” said Bowen. “It’s awesome to see communities pull together to not only engage in some friendly competition, but also to better themselves in the long run.”

The county with the most miles logged per capita at the end of the competition will receive a walkability assessment from the WVU Extension Service Community, Economic and Workforce Development program.

The West Virginia Association of Counties partners with Extension to organize and promote this program to encourage community-based walking groups in counties across the state. Since its inception, West Virginians have logged tens of thousands of miles.

The WVU Extension Service is a primary outreach division of West Virginia University. With offices in each of the state’s 55 counties, Extension faculty and staff develop and deliver programs in leadership, rural and community-based economic development, youth development, workforce development and health education.
For more information on health and wellness initiatives in your community, contact your local county office of the WVU Extension Service or visit ext.wvu.edu.

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CONTACT: Brittany Dick, WVU Extension Service
304.293.8701 or Brittany.Dick@mail.wvu.edu

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