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Walking to Wellness campaign exceeds 2017 goal by more than 25-million steps

Avery Schneider

The Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo is celebrating the overwhelming success of this year’s “Walking to Wellness” campaign. With help from people and organizations across Erie County, it exceeded its 50-million step goal.

If you haven’t been counting your steps, now is a good a time as any to get started and join the thousands of residents and visitors in Erie County who contributed to the 2017 “Walking to Wellness” campaign hosted by the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo.

Wellness Institute Executive Director Phil Haberstro has been promoting walking for more than two decades, but began putting a metric to it in 2012. The original “Walking to Wellness” goal was 10-million steps. In the years since, he increased the goal all the way up to 2017’s target of 50-million.

People often approach Habarstro and ask why he doesn’t do more to promote intensive activities like running. He tells them it’s because walking is the works for everyone.

“The most palatable, the least expensive, to the largest number of people,” said Haberstro.

Walking also supports the U.S. Surgeon General’s findings that people can improve their health by becoming even moderately active on a regular basis.

The message seems to have worked this year, because Haberstro and his team hit their goal by September, while people kept on strolling to a year-end total of 76,540,000 steps.

“It’s not expensive for an organization to do this. All they have to do is send us an email and tell us how many people walked and how far. We’ll do the calculation on the steps. Generally speaking, 2,000 steps to a mile,” said Haberstro.

Steps came from children in schools and youth groups, mall walkers, and organizations across Erie County. The biggest boost came from the Explore Buffalo tour group. With more than 19,000 participants, they put in a calculated 39-million steps.

“And their activities included the walks, biking, kayaking, and so on and so forth,” said Haverstro. We even have conversion charts for promoting or taking activities like biking and converting them into steps. So even if it’s a different kind of physical activity, we’re very much able to have the numbers of steps that it represents put down.”

So what’s the Wellness Institute got their sights set on for next year?

“We’re going to shoot for 100-million steps,” said Haberstro.

The 2018 goal will be launched in February, and Haberstro said the Wellness Institute is hoping to make it a success with the help of technology including wearable devices, mobile apps, and online forms.

There’s still time to add on to the step total by emailing your count to BeActive@City-Buffalo.org.

Avery began his broadcasting career as a disc jockey for WRUB, the University at Buffalo’s student-run radio station.
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