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One of the more noteworthy innovations at Wellspring Academies is our fitness center. There, you’ll find large plasma screen TVs with over 400 channels via DirecTV. But here’s the catch: you need to be on a treadmill, elliptical, stationery bike or Stairmaster in order to watch. If you aren’t moving, you’re leaving. And there isn’t anywhere else on campus where you can watch TV.

This will be too much for most families to enforce, especially with other siblings. However, we strongly recommend purchasing at least one piece of fitness equipment for the room where most television is watched – either the living room, family room, or in some cases, your child’s bedroom. If you’re buying one, consistent with our focus on walking, you’ll need to go with the treadmill – not an elliptical or a bike or some even fancier machine that claims it burns even more calories per minute of use. The key word in the last sentence is use: treadmills get used much more than other fitness equipment.

Putting a treadmill in front (hopefully directly in front) of the television is an important step for encouraging 10,000 steps. It would be great if the treadmill can be positioned to block the view from where your weight controller most likes to sit. This way, the best viewing will be from the treadmill itself.

And of course, the best way you can encourage frequent use of this treadmill is to use it yourself when you watch television.

When you purchase a treadmill, rather than purchasing a relatively inexpensive home model from a consumer fitness company – these tend to break fairly easily and aren’t particularly sturdy – try calling around to local gyms to see if they have any used commercial-grade treadmills they are looking to sell. Also look on and You’re almost always better off with a used commercial-grade treadmill than a brand new treadmill designed for the home market.

Other Strategies

Here are some other approaches Wellspring families employed to encourage movement by focusing on steps:

  • Everyone in the family wears pedometers.
  • Record steps per day on a calendar posted in the kitchen, often on the refrigerator.
  • Make receiving allowance (or some portion of allowance) contingent on achieving a certain number of steps per week and on recording steps every day.
  • Seek parking spots further away from destinations, making that a positive family goal.
  • Walk to destinations whenever possible.
  • Make a game out of guessing the number of steps it takes to go from one place to another.

Talk about activities in terms of steps (guess the number of steps you’ll achieve before bowling your first game together).