Celebrate National Public Health Week! April 6-12, 2009

Get Moving Vermont: Sign On to Hike the Appalachian Trail, Virtually

For Immediate Release:
April 7, 2009

Media Contact:
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON — Hundreds of Vermonters this spring will become versed in the terrain, milestones and markers of the Appalachian Trail – one step at a time – without ever having set foot on the trail.

Virtual reality mountain hiking is the newest Get Moving Vermont 12-week challenge to encourage people of all ages to get at least 2.5 hours per week of moderate intensity physical activity.

Participants record their real physical activity on a pedometer and keep track of their progress online at www.getmoving.vermont.gov. Any physical activity counts — walking, jogging and riding a bike all move you forward along the virtual trail. You can find out more about the challenge, how it works, and you can sign up as an individual, with a group, or as a work team — at that web site anytime this week, National Public Health Week, or anytime during the challenge.

The Appalachian Spring Challenge begins Monday, April 13 with kick-off events at noon at the Statehouse in Montpelier led by Gov. Jim Douglas and Health Commissioner Wendy Davis, MD.

Completed in 1937, the nation's longest footpath winds 2,172 miles from Georgia all the way up to Maine, past Bennington and Manchester across the elevated spine of Killington Peak.

"It takes 5 million footsteps to walk the entire length of the Appalachian trail, but all we are asking Vermonters to do is 10,000 steps, or 30 minutes of any activity each day," said Suzanne Kelley, physical activity coordinator for the Vermont Department of Health. "You'd be amazed at how it adds up. We expect several people will record the entire 400 miles of the selected sections of the trail for this challenge as it winds through Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts."

Many of the people who have already signed up for the spring challenge recently completed a 12-week virtual Tropical Trek during the winter months.

Two thousand steps equals one mile. Taking 10,000 steps each day can help improve health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. Regular exercise helps build and maintain healthy bones and muscles, controls weight, reduces feelings of depression and anxiety, and promotes well-being.

According to 2007 behavioral risk factor surveys conducted by the Health Department, too many Vermonters are not moving enough. Forty percent of Vermont adults do not get at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, 18 percent are not active at all, and 74 percent of Vermont students do not meet the recommendations for daily physical activity.

Get Moving Vermont is a statewide initiative sponsored by the Vermont Department of Health, the Department of Human Resources/Employee Wellness Division, and the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness & Sports.

For more information, go to www.getmoving.vermont.gov.

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For National Public Health Week, the American Public Health Association has launched a viral video - This is What Public Health Does. What Are You Doing? about the important role public health plays in every aspect of our daily lives.

The video is featured on a new web site as the start to a longer campaign — The Healthiest Nation in 1 Generation: http://www.nphw.org/nphw09/default.htm.

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