Step to it challenge encourages physical activity

Goal to inspire communities to stay active

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Step to it challenge encourages physical activity

Photo illustration by Katie Hardie

Photo illustration by Katie Hardie

Photo illustration by Katie Hardie

Photo illustration by Katie Hardie

Sofia Seewald

As freshman Bella Kaplan tries to stay physically fit throughout the school year, she said the Step to it challenge will be a great opportunity for her and other students to get involved in more physical activity.

“I think the challenge is a really cool way to motivate people, and I think a lot of people would be interested in doing it not just for the prizes, but to stay active,” Kaplan said.

According to Health in the Park’s wellness and volunteer coordinator Laura Smith, many cities will engage in the Hennepin county-led challenge.

“Communities can sign up to be part of the program, and the people who live within those communities can track their steps throughout the month of May,” Smith said. “It’s a competition-based program so cities can compete with other cities to see who’s the most active.”

Physical education teacher Richard Keith said students are becoming more apathetic toward physical activity due to more available alternative entertainment options.

“More and more, physical fitness is becoming a much more difficult challenge, because there are so many more things that kids can do instead of getting out and exercising today,” Keith said. “Now, more kids have not grown up exercising regularly, and then trying to retrain yourself into doing that is difficult for some.”

Kaplan said staying active is known to help students stay engaged in school and keep people content.

“I think this will benefit students because when you’re physically active, it can help reduce stress levels, and it releases endorphins, so students can feel more motivated to get their work done and do a good job in school,” Kaplan said. “It’s just good way to stay happy and less tense.”

According to Smith, monitoring physical health can increase one’s standard of living and mental toughness.

“There are a lot of studies on linking physical activity to mental well-being and stress,” Smith said. “Physical activity can have an effect on your sleep quality, your overall energy throughout the day and how kids perform in school.”

Keith said students will decide to participate in the challenge based on their character and personality.

“If you’re an extrinsically motivated person, then being in a group setting doing the challenge would be great for you because then you’ve got a group of people that are motivating one another,” Keith said. “If you’re intrinsically motivated, then you’re able to do it on your own. Either way, the challenge hits both sectors, so this is a positive way to keep students motivated.”

According to Smith, students are likely to engage in the challenge if their peers are also involved.

“Studies have been showing students usually become more active through that social component where if you have friends who are active, you’re more likely to be active,” Smith said.

For more information on the Step to it challenge, visit the Step to it website.

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