OWATONNA — More than 500 area community members took the first steps toward walking more than 10,000 miles as a community Monday evening.
And although there weren’t many people at the “On the Move” kick-off event in Owatonna, Stephanie Olson, spokesperson for Mayo Clinic Health System — Owatonna, said the buzz has started.
“We’ve had a lot of people registering online, calling or stopping in the last two weeks,” Olson said. “The community is buzzing about this. We already have more than 500 people registered.”
The kick-off event marked the beginning of Mayo Clinic Health System — Owatonna’s five-week “On the Move” wellness program in partnership with Steele County Public Health, Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, Owatonna Parks and Recreation, Learning Zone Express, Allina Health, Steele and Rice 911 Center, area schools and area businesses.
Owatonna Mayor Tom Kuntz kicked off the event with a mayoral proclamation promoting wellness within the Steele County area.
Kuntz stated in his proclamation that a brisk walk reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, arthritis and some cancers.
Dr. Brian Bunkers, president, CEO and family medicine physician at Mayo Clinic Health System—Owatonna, thanked the clinic’s partners and residents who are participating in the program.
“Exercise is the key to staying healthy and having a healthy community,” Bunkers said.
Since 2004, the clinic has offered a community-wide walking program to encourage area residents to exercise.
Olson said the goal for participants is to walk 10,000 steps each day, five days a week, and as a community, walk across the United States but not literally.
The clinic has calculated the number of miles and steps it would take to walk to 25 destinations in the U.S. starting and finishing in Owatonna. To complete this “Walk Across America” would mean walking 10,000 miles as a group and 20 million steps.
The event runs until May 22, and Olson said on that day the community will come together and celebrate.
Program materials — pedometers and other details — were available at the kick-off event, and for those who couldn’t attend, they can sign up online and pick up their materials at the Mayo Clinic Health System’s information desk. Participants can use their own pedometers or purchase one from the clinic for $10.
“There is no deadline to sign up,” Olson said. “People can sign up anytime during the program.”
Pedometers allow participants to keep track of their steps, which should be reported each Monday.
Participants can report their steps by calling 507-446-5121 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.