In efforts to improve the health of residents, the three beach cities, Redondo, Manhattan, and Hermosa Beach, challenged locals to walk 70,000 steps in seven days as part of a national competition called Steppin' Out, held annually by the Medical Fitness Association.
Not only did more than 5,500 residents step out, but also stepped over the other 65 participating cities across the country, winning the weeklong competition for the Beach Cities Health Districtwith 315,151,149 steps walked, according to results released this week.
Participants used pedometers to measure their steps, and winners will receive a free pair of resistance trainers from Skechers, which sponsored the program.
This is the second time in a row the beach cities have won this competition.
"Because we won last year, we had to win again," said Vanessa Poster, president of the Beach Cities Health District board of directors.
Poster said that the district had been very successful in making the competition a community-wide event with individuals as well as, civic, school and community groups participating.
Pat Aust, Redondo Beach city councilman, said he did not make a conscious effort to increase the number of steps he took during the week of the competition, but he bettered his own score in the last two years.
"My main aim for participating in the competition was to raise awareness," Aust said. "The contest made a lot of people want to come out and participate. They learn from it and they get into a fitness regimen."
"When it comes to being a healthy community, beach cities' residents are certainly willing to walk the walk," Susan Burden, CEO of the Beach Cities Health District, stated in a press release. "Everywhere I looked there were people wearing pedometers, walking to school or work … our community takes a lot of pride in being a healthy place to live and each first place finish validates that even more."
Medical exercise specialist and South Bay resident Rachel Ragona, who became the top adult stepper with 222,452 steps, has been taking part in the competition for the past three years.
"On a normal day, I will take well over 15,000 steps anyway, so for the competition, I wanted to set my goals a little higher and see if I could push myself in the way that I expect my clients to push themselves," Ragona said.
At the time, Ragona was also training for a triathlon, and believed the goal would be easier to achieve because of the extra training she was putting in.
"I don't own a car, and so I would walk or run to work everyday," she said. "I used a conversion chart to convert all the cycling and running I did for my training, to count towards the total number of steps I took that week. All of that added up to my steps."
If individuals are not as motivated as Ragona, then they participated in the competition as members of a local organization for fun, Poster said.
"We create little internal competitions … so that everybody has more than one reason to participate," she said.
For example, City Councils and school boards competed against each other, Poster said, which turned the competition into friendly rivalry.
"It's a healthy activity, it's rewarding and it helps in building the community," she added.
Ragona agreed that the competition served as a successful way to promote healthy living.
"It helped me motivate my clients," she said. "They got a good sense of achievement from it, as did I."
Many of Ragona's successful weight loss clients are continuing to do the Steppin' Out process, even after the competition ended in April, she said.
"They are still logging their steps, wearing their pedometers, and are still aiming for 10,000 steps a day," Ragona said.
And that is exactly what Poster said the Beach Cities Health District hoped would occur.
"Getting people to think more about how to add in the steps to their days creates a long-term health impact that is really good for the entire community," she said.
Poster recommended the following ways to accumulate more steps:
- Complete errands on foot; such as walking to the grocery store or local post office
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Parking your car a little farther than your destination
Hermosa Beach and other cities within the Beach Cities Health District have already started planning to participate in next year's Steppin' Out program.