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The weather may be playing games with us, offering spring weather and then blasting us with snow again, but we know the calendar says it’s officially spring. To jump start your health this spring, the Garrett County Health Department is offering a Steps Challenge to help you increase your physical activity.

“Walking is a great way to get the physical activity needed to obtain health benefits,” said Amy Ritchie, Registered Dietician at the Health Department. “Walking doesn’t require any special skills, and it doesn’t require a gym membership or expensive equipment.”

The Steps Challenge corresponds with National Public Health Week, which is April 2-8, and is for total steps throughout the day, which includes your everyday steps and intentional exercise. Participants may use total steps recorded on any kind of fitness tracker (step counter, step counter app, Fitbit, etc.) from 12:00 am to midnight each day.

“We have a few basic step counters available at the Health Department if you don’t have access to one,” said Ritchie, “Or, you may log 2,000 steps per mile of walking, or 6,000 steps for 60 minutes of aerobic exercise.”

Steps will be logged on MyGarrettCounty.com/steps from a computer or mobile device throughout the week, with online trophies being earned for various levels of participation.

“We are challenging participants to get at least 7 trophies during Public Health Week, April 2-8,” Ritchie said. Participants will have a chance to earn up to 14 trophies for the week, one trophy for each day they walk at least 6,000 steps, and one trophy each day they increase their steps to 8,000 or more per day.

Participants who earn at least 7 trophies, print out the log from the website, and bring it to the Garrett College CARC booth at the Garrett County Health Fair will receive one free day pass to swim at CARC. The 2018 Garrett County Health Fair is scheduled for Saturday, April 14, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Garrett College Community Aquatic & Recreation Complex (CARC).

“Counting steps is a great way to motivate yourself to increase your activity and at the same time improve your heath,” Ritchie said. “Health benefits of regular exercise can help protect you from heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, non-insulin-dependent diabetes, obesity, back pain, osteoporosis, and can improve your mood and help you to better manage stress.”

Participants who need a step counter should register on MyGarrettCounty.com/steps, select the option to pick up a free step counter and follow the directions on the website.

For more information about the Steps Challenge visit MyGarrettCounty.com/steps, or call 301-334-7730 or 301-895-3111.By Diane Lee, Public Information Officer, Garrett County Health Department

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