By Brett Peruzzi, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Westborough educators are not letting the town’s school closures due to the coronavirus pandemic get in the way of their students, their families, and other residents staying fit.
To motivate them to exercise every day, the physical education and wellness departments for the public schools have introduced the Westborough Fitness and Wellness Challenge. Through a web page on the Westborough Public Schools site and links to Google Docs forms, they’ve made a variety of tools available to allow students to learn more about the program, log their exercise time each day, share their photos and experiences with their physical education teachers, and earn virtual rewards when milestones are met. In addition to the mileage tracking form, there is a welcome video and letter, a screencast that explains how to complete the form, a printable calendar to track mileage, and workout suggestions for various age groups.
“The overall goal is to maintain, and even improve the wellness of our community through exercise and connection during this challenging time,” said Roger Anderson, director of wellness for the Westborough Public Schools, who is featured in the welcome video. “We see whole person well being as a major challenge during the pandemic. For many students though, the decrease in time of commitments compared to normal has increased their opportunities to exercise, which is a real positive.”
Every 10 minutes of exercise counts as a mile, Anderson, a Grafton resident who has worked in the Westborough school system for nearly 23 years, explained. Whether it’s walking the family dog, doing yoga, lifting weights in the basement, running, or even doing mindfulness meditation, it all counts towards the goal of daily exercise and wellness activities.
“Giving reasons to exercise,” Anderson noted, “and good options in different environments, is important and a role we feel we can fill. Physical activity has been shown time and again to have a positive impact on both physical and mental health.”
With the tag line, “Where in the world can Westborough go?” the challenge inspires exercisers to rack up as many miles as possible to achieve various milestones. Individual milestones reached so far range from 25 to 180 miles, which measure the distance from Westborough to notable destinations, including Fenway Park in Boston, the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, and New York City. Once a milestone is achieved, a link on the web page is activated to a video on YouTube featuring the destination that participants can watch. Community milestones range from 1,146 miles, the distance to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, to 238, 900 miles, the distance from the Earth to the moon.
“Regardless of ability level, prior exercise habits or anything else, we want the Westborough community to join us in working out together while we’re apart,” Anderson affirmed. “In just the first 10 days of the Westborough Fitness and Wellness Challenge, we’ve compiled enough miles to travel the circumference of the earth. People should exercise to their own ability level, following guidelines for social distancing.”
In addition to the video by Anderson introducing the program in English, the welcome letter explaining how the program works is translated into Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic.
“We’ve had a huge response from the Westborough school and family community, including students, parents, teachers, and secretaries,” Anderson said. “And we’re now pushing out the challenge to the broader community, to include anyone associated with Westborough – senior citizens, people without kids, anyone.”
The Westborough Fitness and Wellness Challenge web page can be accessed on the Westborough public schools web site at http://westboroughk12.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=32302986&pageId=49838585.
Questions about the program can be sent to Roger Anderson at [email protected].