District 4 Public Health Announces Fitbit Challenge Winner

September 1, 2015

Barbara Ward is a physical education teacher at Berta Weathersbee Elementary School in LaGrange, Georgia for students in kindergarten up to 5th grade. 

Ward, 53, isn’t a runner. You won’t even see her out walking very much except for an occasional stroll around the Granger Park track with her husband in Troup County.

Given these facts, it might surprise folks to know that Ward logged more than 1 million steps over the course of District 4 Public Health’s Fitbit Challenge, surpassing 132 other participants. In total, Ward took 1,004,273 steps, averaging 32,395 steps a day or travelled about 15 miles daily.

Following closely behind Ward were participants Ginny Tipsword who logged 919,308 steps to take second-place honors and Brennen Salter who won third place with 635,147 steps.
 
Allie Crawford, accreditation assistant and social media coordinator for District 4 Public Health, and her colleagues wore Fitbits – wireless physical activity and fitness trackers – to become more aware of their daily movement and health behaviors. Their friendly competition sparked the idea to sponsor a month-long Fitbit Challenge for the entire Troup County community this summer.

“It’s unreal how Barbara just outpaced all of us,” said Crawford. “The way Barbara stays active is particularly inspiring because she incorporates small moves and modifications into her everyday routine that shows you can be fit and not even have to carve out a lot of time to exercise.”

Ward said she began living a more active lifestyle years ago to control her asthma. In addition to enduring breathing difficulties, Ward’s asthma medication caused weight gain.

“Anyone who knows me knows I can’t stand still,” she said. “If I’m folding clothes, I stand up and am constantly moving my feet. I do the same when I wash dishes. When I watch TV, I get up and move during commercials.”

“I’ve even put small weights all around my house,” she continued. “As I go room to room, I can just pick up the weights as I’m moving and get an extra boost.”

Ward and her husband mow five of their neighbors’ yards with a push-mower, and she loves to swim. Ward also swears by her mini-trampoline, which she uses to “rebound” each morning for about 20 to 35 minutes with exercise routines she watches on YouTube.

“I’m determined not to be bored when I exercise and rebounding is so much fun,” she said. “It’s also very easy on the knees and joints.”

Ward’s students love to challenge her in physical activity, which adds more fun to her exercise routines.

“If they get out and do push-ups, I do push-ups with them,” she said. “I tell them, ‘If a 53-year-old woman can do this, then you can certainly do it too!’”

Crawford states that the Fitbit Challenge will become an annual community event for Troup County residents with one stipulation – those who place first-place will not be able to win in future competitions.

“I’ve joked with several people that I’m worried no one will join our Challenge if they know Barbara has the chance to win again,” she said.

For more information about District 4 Public Health’s wellness programs, visit www.District4PublicHealth.org

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