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MIT community challenged to 'get fit'

The cookies, cakes and candies that come with the holiday season can only mean one thing for January: It's time to get fit.

Last year, nearly 1,300 participants stepped up to the getfit@mit challenge, an effort to get MIT community members up and exercising. This year, the sponsors are hoping for 2,000. The number already seems attainable, said getfit@mit committee member Katherine Wahl of MIT Medical, one of the program's sponsors. "People are very excited," she said.

The challenge is open to members of the MIT community, including students, faculty, staff, affiliates, alumni, retirees, spouses and partners.

Sponsors for the challenge include MIT Medical, the MIT Health Plans and MIT Medical's Center for Health Promotion and Wellness. The challenge also receives major sponsorship from MIT's Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation.

The 12-week program will start Jan. 15 and continue through the end of March. Teams of between five and eight participants will climb stairs, bike, ski and walk their way to weekly exercise goals. For the program, exercise is defined as "anything that increases the heart rate or challenges the muscles," according to MIT Medical health educator and getfit@mit committee member Deirdre Neylon.

Both group and individual exercise sessions count, but each individual must track his or her own exercise minutes and submit weekly totals to the team captain, who will then submit time totals for the whole team. An online database will keep the individual records and calculate a team average.

There will be incentives along the way. All teams that meet the weekly minimum exercise requirement will be entered into drawings for prizes that include lift tickets and gift cards from everything from restaurants to sporting good stores.

A grand prize winner will be chosen via drawing. Last year, members of the winning team received gym bags. All teams who meet their weekly goals will be eligible for the final drawing. Sign-ups started Dec. 27 and will continue through Jan. 15. For more information, visit

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