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GFWC, AARP Launch Walking Program

"Step for the Roses" aims to empower women to live healthier, more active lives

Washington, D.C.—March 2, 2009—The General Federation of Women's Clubs and AARP have come together to launch "Step for the Roses," a 24-week walking program developed by AARP for GFWC's Focus on Health program. Using the rose—GFWC's official flower—as the inspiration, AARP and GFWC have designed a program to get the 100,000 members of the volunteer Federation walking (and working) together in their communities. Participants will use a step counter each day, record their steps, and report their progress to their clubs each month. 
"GFWC's members are increasingly focused on health issues that affect them, their families, and their communities," said GFWC International President Rose M. Ditto, Ph.D. "Our clubwomen are excited about this opportunity to get out into their communities, get fit, and promote better health for everyone." In addition to its volunteer activities in areas like literacy, conservation, and the arts, GFWC provides members with resources to develop and deliver community service programs on a variety of health-related topics. For many years, members have promoted women's health issues, from breast cancer and heart disease to osteoporosis and shingles. In 2008, members began a weight loss challenge aimed at helping individual members and clubs live healthier lifestyles. "Step for the Roses" will play a key role in helping members achieve healthier habits.

"Walking is one of the most natural and safest ways to exercise," said Cheryl Matheis, AARP senior vice president for health strategy. "AARP hopes this program will help people make walking a part of their everyday lives." 

For the past several years, AARP has been testing the proposition that walking programs that include group activities encourage longer-term participant commitment than those that provide no social support. Studies have shown that regular walking can help significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, arthritis, and even some cancers. Walking programs can also reduce insurance costs, increase employee productivity, and promote mental well-being. AARP has found that 74 percent of its members who exercise prefer walking over any other type of physical activity.

"Step for the Roses" fits with GFWC's goal of giving women as many opportunities as possible to enjoy activities together in their communities. The 24-week walking program is also part of a broader AARP effort to help prevent illness and keep older Americans well through positive changes to personal behaviors, like exercise and diet. More information about "Step for the Roses" can be found at www.StepForTheRoses.com or www.GFWC.org/StepForTheRoses. Useful walking tips and online tools can be found on AARP's website at www.AARP.org/Walking.

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