With the end of 2006 a few days away many of us turn our thoughts to the New Year and seize the opportunity to rededicate ourselves to healthier habits. I personally know all too well how easy it is to stop exercising and how hard it is to start again. I also know how insidious inactivity can be. In the last month alone, I’ve had to tell three of my patients that they were in the earliest stages of developing diabetes. For them, the need to exercise and to pay compulsive attention to their diet has suddenly become mandatory.

So I’ve decided to encourage all my patients to become more physically active in 2007 by organizing a contest called the Pedometer Project. Here’s how it works.

I will provide a pedometer (a little device that you keep in your pocket that counts how many steps you walk) for all of my patients. Several patients have told me that using a pedometer has made them much more aware of how much they are walking, and that they found themselves walking more even when they didn’t deliberately set out to do so. Non-patients are welcomed to join the contest if they are referred by patients. Periodically contestants will email me the number of steps they’ve walked. (This is obviously done on the honor system. You can cheat, but why would you?) Every month I’ll announce new winners in three different categories.

  • The Walker of the Month — whoever accumulates the most steps that month
  • Most Improved — whoever increases his / her walking the most from the first week to the last week of the month
  • Weight Loss — anyone who is overweight and loses at least 10 pounds

What do winners get? In honor of every winner I will either donate platelets at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center or donate an afternoon at the Simms/Mann Clinic, a clinic that cares for indigent patients. I’ll inform each winner when their donation happens, and if I have their permission, will congratulate them by name on my web site. Winners can only win once, so that everyone else has a chance the following months.

So by becoming more active, your steps make a difference to your health, to blood recipients at Cedars-Sinai, and to patients who could otherwise afford no healthcare at all.

Let me know if you’d like to participate.

I wish all of you a happy, healthy and active 2007!