Pedometers like this one are being given out to Petersburg residents. Photo Angela Denning

Pedometers like this one are being given out to Petersburg residents. Photo/Angela Denning

At least one hundred people in Petersburg should be wearing pedometers today to count the steps they are taking. They are participating in the Pedometer Challenge. It’s the second year the program has happened here in town. Last year, the Petersburg Indian Association ran the event through their tobacco prevention grant. Two-hundred seventy people participated.

Kim Kilkenny with Petersburg Mental Health Services says mental health and physical health go hand in hand.

“Mental health and physical health are intertwined,” Kilkenny says. “We believe in treating the whole body and that if your physical health is not good or you’re struggling with pain, mental health is not going to feel good and you’re going to struggle with that, and so, that’s why we talk about all of it. ‘Is your social health good, is your mental health good. What can we do to keep you active? You know, what are some behavior strategies that will help improve your mood and decrease symptoms?’ So, it’s just enmeshed and you know, our doctors ask us, ‘are we getting exercise’? You know, it’s all inter-related to our whole well being.”

Kilkenny’s office took over the Pedometer Challenge this year through a different funding source– a $24,000 dollar Community Transformations grant from the CDC or Centers for Disease Control. The grant came through the South East Alaska Regional Health Consortium or SEARHC.

Martha Pearson is a Program Manager for SEARHC. I spoke with her and Kilkenny about the details of this year’s Pedometer Challenge.

Angela: “Now the actual mechanics of the pedometer, it’s basically recording how many steps you take or those types of motions?”
Kim: “Right. You’ll want to test it out that the steps are corrected and it will do 24 hours, count your steps and then the way we are having people measure their participation is by calling in their total numbers for that week. They’re logging in, this year we are doing it through survey monkey so we have instant data and know where everybody’s at and that way we don’t lose any information or add wrong (laughs) so that’s how it’s going down.”
Martha: “And also the beauty of using the pedometers is that each participant gets their own feedback right away of how they’re doing. They can set their own personal goals. You know, for some person, 10,000 steps a day is no problem. That’s about five miles of stepping a day. For some people that would be just an impossible task. So, for them maybe 5,000 steps or 2,000. Whatever it is, you can set your own goal and work to reach it. And that’s why this program is likely to be more successful is because everyone can join in and participate on their own rate.”
Angela: “How long is this challenge going for?”
Kim: “Six weeks. The challenge will end May 23. The reporting period opens on Thursday and it closes on Sunday for that previous week. So to be eligible for the drawing for a weekly prize, you’ll need to register during that four day window.”
Angela: “Speaking of prizes…”
Kim: “They’re fabulous!”
Angela: “I guess that’s some incentive to keep going.”
Kim: “Yeah, we included some physical health wellbeing prizes or incentives. My favorite– groups are eligible for weekly prizes as well–is two hours at the bouncy castle at Parks and Rec. So, adults are encouraged…you know…it’s a lot of fun if you’ve ever been in the bouncy castle (laughs).”
Angela: “I’ve actually seen pictures and my first question was, ‘is there an age limit’(laughs)?.”
Kim: “No. We checked and there is no age limit (laughs) and then we have kayaks, we have an I pad mini. Well, kayak, sorry, singular. We have some galaxy tablets, Zumba cards, Skate of Gear has a package that they’re donating. So, very cool prizes.”

As of last week, about 100 people had registered.

People can sign up for the Pedometer Challenge through Friday (April 18). Pedometers can be picked up at Public Health or you can call Petersburg Indian Association or Mental Health and they will get one to you.