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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Every Step Counts Program Has Employees Putting The Shoes To The Pavement
by Ken Luchterhand - Hocak Worak Newsletter

It's all the rage.

There is a new electronic fashion accessory many Ho-Chunk Nation employees seems to be wearing these days.

And they can't keep from looking at it over and over again.

It's not the latest iPod, tablet computer or smartphone, but it demands just as much attention as those electronic items – although it's much simpler.

It's called a pedometer.

Employees are gauging their daily steps as part of the Ho-Chunk Nation Health Department's "Every Step Counts" program. The number of steps taken each day is recorded on pedometers and those numbers are written into a log book.

"It's primarily a pilot project for physical activity for Ho-Chunk Nation employees," said Ho-Chunk Nation Exercise Physiologist Kathleen Clemons. "We're starting out small and see how it goes. Eventually we want to involve the whole tribe."

The program began July 21 and will run for eight weeks. People were able to sign up as individuals or as a three-person team. The majority of people signed up on a team, Clemons said.

The total count of people signed up is 538 and are located in all the Ho-Chunk areas in the state, including Black River Falls, Wittenberg, Madison, Milwaukee, Nekoosa, Wisconsin Dells and Green Bay.

Participants were able to choose whether they wished to be placed into a novice or advanced status. The goal for novices is 7,000 steps each day and the goal for advanced participants is 10,000 steps each day. The number of steps is the only measure of the program, not distance.

Besides walking or running, people may choose to use the tricycles from the Ho-Chunk Health Department. They are available on a sign-up basis and each lap on the fitness trail is equivalent to 2,000 steps, Clemons said.

"It's mostly a program to combat obesity and diabetes, and to help people become more active," she said.

She's been seeing more people on the walking trail in Black River Falls since the program started.

"It's a friendly competition," Clemons said. "Some people who have a desk job find out how few steps they take during the day. It's eye opening."

This is the first time the Health Department has conducted such a large scale program on its own. Previously, they had a Minutes in Motion program, but that was in conjunction with Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center.

The program will conclude on September 14, when individuals and teams will be recognized for their efforts.

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