Remember the Chinese proverb that says a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step? Parishioners at 21 area churches have a proverb of their own: The journey to good health begins with 10,000 steps a day.

Since February, more than 800 people at nearly two dozen local churches have participated in a 10,000 steps program sponsored by Wellmont Health System’s parish nursing program and Cardiovascular Associates. Participants in the walking program were provided with a free pedometer to measure their steps, and their weight and blood pressure were checked each week in February, March and April.

“The response has been overwhelming,” said Pamela Arms, parish nurse at Colonial Heights Baptist Church.  “Several participants have said they’re feeling better, and we’ve already seen blood pressure improvement and weight loss.” 

Even children have been in on the action. Delores Bertuso, a parish nurse at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, said third through fifth graders at St. Dominic’s School have embraced the program.

The official 10,000 steps program concluded at the end of April. But Arms and Bertuso said they believe participants will continue to keep track of their steps, blood pressure and weight.

“In three months, this has become a way of life for the participants,” Arms said. “It is a challenge for them, and that will continue.

“I hope this program catches on everywhere. Using exercise to lower your blood pressure and lose weight beats taking medicine for the rest of your life, and it helps to clear your mind.” 


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Jim Wozniak
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