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Annual fitness challenge expands, so you don't have to

The coming year promises to be the best yet for the annual MIT Get Fit Challenge, thanks to a number of changes to the program, including fitness plateau weeks and more chances to win the weekly prizes.

The getfit@mit challenge is an annual effort to get MIT community members moving. Last year, close to 1,900 people across the Institute joined teams of five to eight people. This year, the numbers are expected to climb as high as 2,500, according to Katherine Wahl, communications coordinator for MIT Medical. "We've had so much interest," she said.

The central goal of getfit@mit is to improve the health of the MIT community by encouraging everyone to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week initially, working up to 300 total minutes of exercise during the last few weeks of the challenge. 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 the Center for Health Promotion and Wellness. The challenge also receives major sponsorship from MIT's Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation.

This year's program starts Jan. 22 and will run 12 weeks, one week longer than past years, ending in April. Teams of five to eight participants will climb stairs, bike, ski and walk their way to meeting weekly exercise goals.

Other changes this year include an enhanced web site, which offers individuals the opportunity to enter their own minutes each week instead of the captain entering a team's collective minutes. Additionally, the week will begin on Monday and end on Sunday. Last year, the week ran Sunday to Saturday, which was confusing for some who forgot to turn in their minutes to the captain on Monday, Wahl said.

The most significant changes to this year's program are the weekly minute thresholds and the prize eligibility. Instead of rising each week as in past years, the minute threshold will plateau in weeks six and seven at 225 minutes and again at weeks 11 and 12. Prizes will be awarded by drawing each week again as they were last year, but there are now two"Onward and Upward Prizes," which will be given at the end of the challenge. They will be awarded by random drawing among all participants who have recorded minutes during every week of the challenge and have demonstrated a steady and consistent increase in exercise minutes from week to week.

The changes were made in response to a survey MIT Medical conducted after last year's challenge. More than 700 participants did the survey and "94 percent said they would participate again," Wahl said.

Registration for this year's event will go live sometime in late December and will be active through Jan. 17. For more information, please visit

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 20, 2006 (download PDF).

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