Concord Initiative Walks for Wellness
A competition on Concord University’s campus sprang folks into walking more than 42-million steps … the equivalent of going across the United States almost 6 ½ times. The Spring Wellness Walking Challenge was organized by students, faculty and staff as a way to encourage more activity and better wellness on campus.
According to a report from the United Health Foundation, West Virginia has the second highest rate of physical inactivity at 31 percent of the adult population; 450,000 adults are physically inactive in the state.
Since 1990, the report says the percentage of the population that’s obese increased from 15 to almost 34 percent.
That’s one reason why this study ranks West Virginia 46th overall for health. In West Virginia the bottom 10 counties are in Southern West Virginia.
But folks at Concord University are working to do something about it. The Wellness Committee at Concord as well as the student Human Performance Organization is hoping to encourage better health on campus and throughout the region one step at a time.
Committee member and Assistant Professor of Human Performance Wes Meeteer was co-coordinator of the first Spring Wellness Walking Challenge.
"Whether that be knowledge, physical health, mental health just looking at avenues to increase the knowledge across campus and increase participation and increase the knowledge of everyone including faculty and staff," Meeteer said.
The Wellness Committee worked with students to initiate the Walking Challenge. Groups of four competed in two categories; students and faculty/staff.
Most of the students that helped organize the event are in one of the undergraduate Human Performance programs.
Students helped with the development of how to promote the initiative with flyers, hosted sign up tables, and handed out the pedometers.
The teams counted their steps for six weeks, and whatever team took the most steps, won prizes.
Political Science major Jordan Adkins was on the student winning team. He says he was recruited by his girlfriend to participate.
"It actually turned out to be a lot of fun and really shows you how many steps you take in a day," Adkins said. "It’s really surprising."
Adkins is originally from Wyoming County which ranked next to last in the state, behind McDowell, for health. With limited sidewalks, and community fitness centers, Adkins says most of the physical activity opportunities in his home county come through organized sports.
"I live out in the middle of nowhere so you can go outside and walk in the mountains but other than that organized sports," Adkins explained. "When I’m at home I can sit in my room and not do anything because there’s nothing to do. It doesn’t there’s nothing there to encourage me to go outside run, walk whatever. I think it’s more of just a problem of isolation than anything."
For Adkins, it was the encouragement from his girlfriend and teammates that helped him increase his steps by 2,000 - 3,000 each week.
Meeteer says the Wellness Committee is now looking into building walking trails in Athens to branch out into the community.
"One way to help out is to start small start in a community where you have access and we have access to the community here at Concord," Meeteer said. "Hopefully they can take some of the things that they may have learned and take it back to their own communities, or families, or friends.
Meeteer also says the Walking Challenge is a small step to tackling a big challenge.