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January 26, 2004
For immediate release

Stepping Out Gets Islanders Walking Again This Year

Health and Social Services

The Department of Health and Social Services and the PEI Active Living Alliance are pleased to announce that the highly successful Stepping Out program will continue throughout 2004. The community program will launch the new Stepping Out Dream Team, a group of Stepping Out participants whose progress will be profiled in the media throughout January and February. In addition, a Stepping Out school pilot project for youth will be introduced in several junior and senior high schools Island wide.

Last year’s 12-week community Stepping Out program saw 1500 Islanders strapping pedometers onto their hips to count the number of steps they take every day. It’s a way for participants to determine their current level of activity and set goals toward a healthier, more active lifestyle.

An evaluation of last year’s community-based program showed that 74 per cent of respondents felt that Stepping Out was very effective in helping them to become more physically active, on average increasing their daily number of steps by 53 per cent. That increase in activity is especially important for Islanders, as a 1999 Physical Activity Monitor determined that 65 per cent of the province’s population are not active enough to receive the health benefits associated with being physically active. Regular activity has many benefits, including improved physical and mental health and reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

With the success of the 2002-2003 community-based Stepping Out program, a junior and senior high school-based pilot project will be implemented throughout the winter and spring of 2004. The period of adolescence is characterized by a substantial decline in physical activity levels that can often extend into adulthood; the Stepping Out program will help Island students get active again.

Dawn Binns, President of the PEI Active Living Alliance, sees the Stepping Out program as an important initiative for Islanders to participate in. “We all need to play a role in helping to create healthier communities. The simplicity of the Stepping Out program makes it easier for everyone to make the first step toward an active healthy lifestyle.”

Chester Gillan, Minister of Health and Social and Services, agrees, “The Department of Health and Social Services is pleased to participate in a program that enables the PEI Active Living Alliance to deliver Stepping Out Island wide. The program is a result of successful collaborations between various government departments and the PEI Active Living Alliance. Programs such as Stepping Out help to increase the number of Islanders participating in regular physical activity, which is one of the main goals of the PEI Strategy for Healthy Living.”

The Strategy for Healthy Living, through its partners, encourages and supports Islanders as they address the common risk factors for chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, and diabetes. The strategy is a partnership of many organizations including provincial government departments, community organizations, alliances, and post-secondary institutions.

Media Contact: Sara Underwood
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