October 27, 2010 in City

Step Up Spokane promotes exercise and weight loss

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Jonathan Brunt photo

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner hands out pedometers after a news conference Tuesday announcing the creation of Step Up Spokane, which will encourage people to walk 1 million steps.
(Full-size photo)

As patients have gotten bigger, Spokane cardiologist Dr. Hal Goldberg has determined that more positive approaches to persuading patients to lose weight work best.

He’s bet some $5 that they couldn’t lose five pounds.

“One guy came back from Walla Walla to collect his $5,” said Goldberg, a partner at Spokane Cardiology. “I bet him double or nothing if he came back and lost more.”

On Tuesday, Goldberg’s even more novel approach was unveiled.

Community leaders gathered at Spokane City Hall to announce the creation of Step Up Spokane, a nonprofit group that will promote exercise and weight loss in Spokane.

“I’m seeing younger and younger patients with heart attacks,” said Goldberg, Step Up Spokane’s founder and board president. “It was just time for physicians to assume a position of advocacy to attempt to have an effect that was more substantial than one could achieve in the practice.”

Step Up Spokane is kicking off its existence with a challenge to local residents to walk 1 million steps and to log their progress at stepupspokane.org. A limited number of free pedometers are available at Mountain Gear, 2002 N. Division St., for people who take the challenge.

Julie Humphreys, Step Up director, said the program is based on one in Oklahoma City that challenged residents to lose a collective 1 million pounds. She said with Bloomsday and Hoopfest already prominent in Spokane, Step Up organizers felt that signified the city already is an “active” community.

Even so, a quarter of all adults in Spokane County are obese, according to the Spokane Regional Health District.

Providence Health Care, Premera Blue Cross and other groups have funded Step Up, which was created to be a permanent group, Humphreys said. Goldberg estimated that the first year’s operating budget will be around $150,000. Board members represent the YMCA of the Inland Northwest, Spokane Regional Health District and other groups and health-related businesses.

Don Kardong, founder and race director of Bloomsday, said the race will work with Step Up to encourage race participants to practice more before Bloomsday, and maintain their gains afterward.

“We’re hoping that this will encourage people to make it a little more of a lifestyle change,” said Kardong, who attended Tuesday’s unveiling.

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