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Berkeleyan

Fitness is just steps away
For many sedentary types, pedometers provide an incentive to get into shape

| 16 September 2004

Getting fit may seem a daunting proposition to some people. For them, the breezy-sounding notion of “just doing it” conjures up the prospect of expending a great deal of effort and enduring a fair amount of pain.

Kristl Buluran, a health educator with Health*Matters, the Tang Center’s health-promotion program for faculty and staff, would like to dispel those notions. In an effort to help campus workers fit 30 minutes of activity into their day (and to inspire those seeking more strength or flexibility) she will be teaching a fitness class called “Step It Up.”

“Participants will learn that a basic exercise program, consisting of walking and strength-training using your own body weight for resistance, can be very effective,” says Buluran. The class will be offered on three upcoming third Tuesdays of the month (Sept. 21, Oct. 19, and Nov. 16) from 12:10 to 1 p.m.

In addition to a strength-training component, “Step It Up” will emphasize adding steps to your day with the help of a pedometer, a device that Buluran calls “a great tool for motivating someone to get moving by simply walking. It helps you track the number of steps you take during the day to assess how active (or inactive) you currently are. It then helps motivate you to increase your physical activity throughout the day.”
Pedometers, says Buluran, are most accurate when their wearer is walking and taking the stairs; they’re least accurate when one is running, so aren’t recommended for that use. Pedometers are used for a variety of walking activities — from leisurely walking during the workday (it helps keep you from sitting at your desk all day long if you’re trying to increase your steps) and fitness walking (brisk walking for a designated distance) to hiking and stair- or hill-climbing.

“I think that pedometers help people make the choice to walk somewhere if they can,” says Buluran, “instead of, for example, taking the car to the store, or sitting and sending an e-mail.”

Faculty and staff can register for the class through ICE at hrweb.berkeley.edu/ice/home. Pedometers will be available for purchase at the class ($20); alternatively, visit www.uhs.berkeley.edu/facstaff/healthmatters/pedometer, call 643-4646, or e-mail hmatters@uhs.berkeley.edu.