Making fitness a daily habit
Participants of Fit 2007, a six-month fitness challenge sponsored by District 6360 (Michigan, USA). Photo courtesy of the Rotary Club of Kalamazoo.
An emergency room nurse, Diane Froelich was on the road to a possible medical emergency herself: By her own description, she was out of shape and overweight. What’s more, she was convinced she didn’t have time to exercise.
“My [resting] heartbeat was 117, and I got winded just climbing one flight of stairs,” says Froelich, 57.
So she signed up for Fit 2007, a six-month fitness challenge sponsored by District 6360 (Michigan, USA) and local community groups and government agencies. The program, aimed at helping participants develop lifelong exercise habits, not only improved Froelich’s health but also helped her realize that she wasn’t too busy to take regular walks.
“Now my heart rate is in the mid-60s, and I can climb stairs without getting out of breath,” Froelich said during a group walk in Kalamazoo in October, cheerfully keeping up a brisk pace despite a steady rain and puddles on the sidewalk. She lost 20 pounds during the challenge but noted, “I’m more excited about the fact that I’m fit.”
Starting in April, Froelich and about 1,800 others in southwest Michigan committed themselves to physical activities such as walking, mowing the lawn, and biking for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
Participants recorded the number of minutes they exercised each day on the Fit 2007 Web site, which also featured tips for increasing activity levels and inspirational stories from exercisers. About 1,000 of the people who signed up recorded more than 4.7 million minutes for an estimated 236,500 miles, according to the program’s Webmaster, Bob Brown, who divided the minutes by 20 to calculate the approximate mileage. In a survey conducted after the program ended, about a third of the participants reported improved fitness habits, said Brown, a member of the Rotary Club of Kalamazoo.
Past District Governor Karl Sandelin launched the program in 2006 as a 90-day project. During Fit 2007, Sandelin, 79, logged 750 miles as a member of a team at a retirement center that included a 100-year-old participant.