2011 News Coverage

Time to step it up! 'Most Active City' title up for grabs

By: Dave Berggren - Kare 11

PLYMOUTH, Minn. -- Sometimes all it takes is a little friendly competition to get folks motivated.

"This is a fun activity that gets people moving after a long winter," says Diane Blaydes with the Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department.

It's the 4th year of the "Step to it Challenge" which pits cities against each other to determine the "Most Active City" in Hennepin County.

Participants are challenged to count their steps and record them each week on the competition website. Steps from all participants in a suburb are combined to determine the most active city.

Last year it was Plymouth that took the title.

"We're excited to bring back that trophy for 2011," says Alyssa Krumholz with the City of Plymouth already walking at 5:30 in the morning.

You don't have to be a walker to participate. Folks can convert other physical activities like biking, jogging, or even gardening into equivelant steps. Check out the "Step to it Challenge" website for a step converter as well as to register.

The push to find the "Most Active City" begins May 9th and runs through June 5th.

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)


Hennpin Co. challenges cities to Step To It

By: Renee Tessman - Kare 11

MINNEAPOLIS -- A friendly competition aimed at getting people up and moving will soon be underway. 

Nearly two dozen communities will be taking part in Hennepin County's Step To It challenge.

From May 9, 2011 to June 5, 2011 St. Louis Park will be one of 22 cities competing for most steps walked.

That means there will be no rest during lunch break for one group of city of St. Louis Park employees.  They took a pre-competition walk over the noon hour Tuesday from city hall onto city trails.

One of them, Shannon Hansen said, "I saw this as a great opportunity to get outside and get a little bit more exercise."

Anyone can compete in the annual Step To It challenge. 

Stacy Chouinard with Hennepin County Public Health said, "The goal of the Step To It challenge is to get people physically active and up and out into their community after a long winter."

Chouinard continued, "And residents or people who live, work or play in these cities can log online at steptoit.org and track their physical activity for four weeks."

So you don't have to live in Hennepin County to participate.  You simply pick a city to walk for.  Then you get outside and also walk for yourself.

Improving cardiovascular health is one reason to walk.  There are other benefits too.

Dr. Jon Nielsen of North Memorial said, "It's a natural pain killer and mood elevator.  And people who exercise enough to get endorphins cranking, they really feel good."

Nielsen said walking is also good for your back and hips.

No pedometer is needed to count your steps.  The Step To It website will convert time walked into steps for you.  It also converts other activities.  For example, 15 minutes of gardening counts as 1,815 steps and 15 minutes of cleaning the garage counts as 1,365.

Ideally, everyone should get a total of 10,000 steps a day.

St. Louis Park employee Manny Camilon participated in Step To It last year.  He said it, "Keeps you in shape and kind of makes your whole mindset about staying healthy, it puts it on the forefront."

The hope is by tracking steps, Step To It will put people on track to a more active lifestyle.

Chouinard said, "It's fairly simple to do and it will kick start your workout habit."

Last year the city of Plymouth won bragging rights for most total steps walked.

Overall, challenge participants doubled their exercise from two days a week to four.

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)


Walking: Join the Step To It Challenge

By: Kare11

MINNEAPOLIS -- You don't need an expensive gym membership to get started down the road to fitness. All you really need is a comfortable pair of shoes and the commitment to make walking part of your daily routine. According to Mayo Clinic," walking is a gentle, low-impact exercise that will help you ease into a higher level of fitness and health."

Health Fair 11 is providing some useful tools and information to get you motivated. On this page you will find tips on starting a walking program. We'll provide a link to an easy-to-use website for tracking your steps. We'll also connect you with the Step To It Challenge created by Hennepin County Public Health.

Getting started 

Walking is considered a gentler form of exercise. Even so, you will want to make sure you warm up for about five minutes before starting on your walk. You can avoid stiffness by allowing for a five to ten minutes of cool down time. As with any exercise, proper form is important. Click here for some guidelines from the professionals. Proper shoes are also important. If you're looking for help in choosing the right walking shoes, check out this link from Mayo Clinic.

Track your trek

The most common way to track your trek is by using a pedometer. These small, golf ball-sized devices clip to your waistband and count the number of steps you are taking. Pedometer prices can range from just a couple dollars to more than $100 for elaborate devices that offer online support.

But you don't need a pedometer to track your trek. Considering using a tool provided by the USA Track & Field organization's website:http://www.usatf.org/routes/map/. Simply enter the address for the starting point of your walk. Then you place markers on the map to note the route you took. The website calculates the distance for you. You can 'save' the route so others in your community can use it too. Best of all, you don't need to fill out any registration forms, and the site is ad-free!

Step To It Challenge

Hennepin County's Public Health Department has an easy-to-use program to help you start a walking program. It's called the Step To It ChallengeClick here for a link to their site.  On it, you will be able tolog your walks and keep a running total of the amount of steps you are taking. 

The Step To It website also has a chart that converts other activities into step totals. So if you'd rather bike, golf, garden, or even vacuum, the chart will tell you the equivalent amount of steps you've logged by doing those activities.

Walk with your neighbors and co-workers

Twenty-two communities in Hennepin County are encouraging their residents to join their city's team. Membership is also open to people who work in these communities. As an added incentive to join a group, members of each city's team will be eligible to win tickets to a Minnesota Twins game

In addtion, several communities are staging special events for theStep To It Challenge. You will find a listing of them by clicking here.

Now get walking!

Health Fair 11, a partnership of KARE 11 TVUCare, and North Memorial Medical Center, is proud to be sponsoring the Step To It Challenge. The campaign is being coordinatated by Hennepin County Public Health, the Minnesota Twins Community Fund, and theMinnesota Department of Health Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP).

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)


Cities are hoping residents step up to an active lifestyle

By: Amanda Schwarze - Sun Patriot Newspapers

People who are feeling the urge to shake off slovenly habits or who just want to get out and enjoy spring have the chance to win prizes for being active.

Several local cities are participating in the 2011 Step to it Challenge. The challenge begins May 9 and runs through June 5. It pits cities in Hennepin County against one another in a friendly competition and participants in each city also have the chance to win a pair of Twins tickets.

Independence, Maple Plain, Mound, Orono and Shorewood are among the 22 cities in Hennepin County participating in the challenge this year. When signing up for the challenge, people can select a city that they live in, work in or have some sort of significant connection to and then their activities are counted toward that city's total. The cities are competing against one another for the titles of Most Steps Walked and Highest Average Number of Steps per Resident.

The goal of the Step to it Challenge is to increase physical activity. Participants are asked to log the number of steps they take each day during the four-week event. Steps can counted when walking, jogging or running by using a pedometer or by keeping track of the time spent doing those activities and using a conversion chart on the Step to it Challenge website at www.steptoit.org.

Other types of physical activity such as yoga, dance, team sports and even household chores can also be converted into steps using the conversion chart.

"As our most recent SHAPE (Survey of the Health of All the Population and the Environment) results show, the rate of obesity among our local population continues to rise," Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman noted in a press release. "The Step To It Challenge can be a fun and easy first step in creating a healthier lifestyle and community spirit."

Mound, Orono and Shorewood are new to the challenge this year. Last year, the city of Independence tallied more than 6,000,000 steps and had an average number of steps per participant of more than 280,000 steps. The city of Maple Plain tallied nearly 17,000,000 steps in the 2010 challenge and had an average number of steps per participant of more than 245,000 steps during the four-week event. Plymouth logged the most overall steps last year with 96,518,543 steps and Hopkins residents logged highest average of steps per resident with 398,634 steps.

Five individual participants from each city will also win a pair of Twins tickets. The participant who logs the highest number of steps in each city will receive a pair and four participants from each city who recorded their steps during all four weeks of the challenge will be awarded tickets during a random drawing. In addition, 10 children ages 17 and under will be awarded a pair of tickets through a drawing of all youth participants.

People who register can also form and join groups made up of family members, co-workers or people who attend the same senior center, organization or school.

Several cities are also hosting kick-off events. Once again this year, the cities of Independence and Maple Plain are hosting a joint kick-off event that is scheduled to take place April 30 from 10 a.m. until noon at Maple Plain City Hall. The event will feature free giveaways, door prizes and a community walk.

The city of Mound will host a kick-off event May 9 - the first day of the challenge. The event is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Mound Transit Center Parking Deck.

Many cities participating in the challenge have also marked walking trails of varying length to help people identify safe walking areas.

Registration for the challenge is free. People can register online at www.steptoit.org or by contacting the city in which they will participate.

The 2011 Step to it Challenge participating cities are: Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Champlin, Crystal, Dayton, Excelsior, Golden Valley, Hopkins, Independence, Maple Grove, Maple Plain, Minnetonka, Mound, New Hope, Orono, Osseo, Plymouth, Richfield, Robbinsdale, Rogers, St. Louis Park, and Shorewood.


Public Health Pathways: Step To It Challenge grows to 22 communities in 2011

By Stacy Chouinard - Guest Columnist Sun Newspapers

Four years and more than one billion steps later, Hennepin County and its community partners are now accepting registrations for what promises to be the biggest and best Step To It Challenge with 22 communities in 2011.

This physical activity competition, which has been offered in western Hennepin County communities since 2008, has proven to be a great way to get out and be active in the community after another long Minnesota winter.

As Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman noted, "The Step To It Challenge has become a tradition in many Hennepin County communities. We're pleased to have been able to expand this effort to a growing list of communities in each of the last four years."

This year's challenge is May 9 to June 5 and will again have family, friends, neighbors and teams adding up steps in communities competing for the title of "Most Active City."

Our website, www.steptoit.org, allows participants to log their steps online. There's even an activity conversion chart for converting activities such as biking, skateboarding, Tai Chi or even mowing the lawn to equivalent steps.

"It makes a difference when you're keeping track of your progress and being accountable," said Pat Busch, coordinator for the challenge in Brooklyn Park. "Each week you keep pushing yourself, and you feel better and better. It's contagious, and it promotes the kind of exercise everyone can do."

Brooklyn Park is back again as a community partner this year, along with Brooklyn Center, Champlin, Crystal, Dayton, Excelsior, Golden Valley, Hopkins, Independence, Maple Grove, Maple Plain, Minnetonka, Mound, New Hope, Plymouth, Orono, Osseo, Richfield, Robbinsdale, Rogers, Shorewood and St. Louis Park. If you live, work or play in one of these cities, you're eligible to participate. Plymouth walked away with the Most Active City Award in 2010 with more than 96 million steps reported. Hopkins claimed the Most Active Residents Award (the highest average steps per participant).

"Hopkins is such a great place to walk," said Debbie Sperling, coordinator for the challenge in the city. "It's great how this challenge has encouraged our community to use our abundant sidewalks and trails."

Another fun aspect of Step To It is the competition that has developed between city councils of the participating cities, which compete for one of two Most Active City Council awards. In 2010, Hopkins and Brooklyn Park took the honors, and Hopkins Mayor Gene Maxwell is again challenging elected officials of participating cities to compete in 2011.

"The Hopkins City Council and I are looking forward to competing against all of the other city councils in this year's Step to It Challenge - and going for a repeat win!" Maxwell said.

We're also happy to report that the Minnesota Twins are back as a corporate sponsor of the challenge. The top stepper in each city will win a pair of Twins tickets and be recognized at Target Field during a Twins game this summer. Additional Twins tickets will be given away through random drawings for adults and youth who log steps all four weeks of the challenge.

The Step To It Challenge is funded in part by the Statewide Health Improvement Program, with goals to create active and healthy lifestyles and reduce overweight and chronic disease.

"People lose a lot of weight during the challenge - as much as 20 or 30 pounds in some cases," Busch said. "Even the winner from our city last year lost about 20 pounds."

Stacy Chouinard is the Step To It Co-Coordinator for Hennepin County Public Health.