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October 9, 2014

Be Fit Pitt: New app promotes activity

Be Fit Pitt is a new service that aims to get University staff and faculty moving.

The first phase of the program is a texting service that suggests physical activities faculty and staff can do right in their offices.

The program, started Oct. 1, is headed by Renee J. Rogers, faculty member in the School of Education’s Department of Health and Physical Activity and director of its health and fitness program.

The department already offers exercise and other classes for University employees, but Rogers realizes that classes don’t fit into everyone’s schedules. Yet research on sedentary behavior — “it’s the hot button issue now,” she says — has found that it is correlated with negative health effects and chronic disease.

So Be Fit Pitt allows staff and faculty to sign up at for brief daily text suggestions of in-office physical activities that ideally will serve as friendly reminders of the value of movement and exercise. The texts also will include nutrition tips and research findings.

“Let’s start getting people moving more,” she says. “That may lead to better things in time. Anything that removes the barrier to getting to the gym…”

Early texts have included:

• “Small steps make a big difference. Let’s start by focusing on how long you are sedentary at work. Keep track.”

• “Ten minute walking bouts can add up. You don’t need to go for a long walk. Short ones can make a big difference.”

Soon, the texts may include links to videos created by students in Rogers’ department, offering more detailed in-office exercise instructions.

“The goal is to give them a quick thing that makes a difference,” she says, “and if they want more information they can click on the link. If we can just open up awareness, it can maybe make a difference in people moving a little bit more.”

She currently is piloting phase II of Be Fit Pitt, which by January may bring her students to individual departments to give department-specific advice. Those in Trees Hall, for instance, could learn that the perimeter is a 10-minute walk, and they may be advised to try this trek three times a day.

Nearly 1,000 faculty and staff members had signed up for the service as of Oct. 3. “We are thrilled,” she says. “I couldn’t ask for a better result.”

—Marty Levine

Filed under: Feature,Volume 47 Issue 4