Tread the Med exercise program under way

When registration recently opened for the third round of Tread the Med, Deloris Brown didn’t hesitate to sign up.

Brown, a medical assistant with Washington University School of Medicine’s infectious diseases division, credits the school’s 100-day walking program with spurring her to dramatically change her lifestyle and improve her health.

Since taking part in her first Tread the Med in spring 2012, she has lost nearly 70 pounds, learned to eat healthier, introduced regular cardio workouts to her routine — and she’s succeeded in encouraging several co-workers to join her.

“Tread the Med inspired me,” says Brown, 46. “I saw that a few pounds came off from just walking, and I became more and more confident and determined.”

The third round of Tread the Med, which is open to School of Medicine employees and sponsored by the school’s wellness committee, began Jan. 7. Registration will remain open until Feb. 15.

The key goal of Tread the Med is to encourage employees to exercise and incorporate more walking into daily life. The program allows all walking to count toward participants’ daily goals, as well as running, bicycling, aerobics and related exercise.

Participants receive a pedometer and a lanyard strap to help keep the pedometer securely fastened to clothing. The program costs $5, which helps defer its cost and is deducted from participants’ paychecks.

Brown, overweight and concerned with her health, had begun walking on the Medical Campus when she learned about Tread the Med. It turned out to be just the thing she needed to get her to institute a routine. With Tread the Med, she upped her pace and increased the distances she would walk.

When she first signed up, she weighed 224 pounds and struggled with asthma and an autoimmune disorder. But after 100 days, she’d lost 40 pounds and was no longer experiencing symptoms she’d come to dread.

Further, her new regimen led her to sign up for a fitness “boot camp” at a gym where she is now a member. She also decided to make healthy changes to her diet.

When the second round of Tread the Med began in August, Brown was ready to go again, as was her team, which previously was dubbed “10,000 Steps to Slim” but has been renamed “Exercise is Infectious” — a clever nod to the infectious diseases division.

By the end of the program, she’d lost another 30 pounds, felt fit and realized that much of the stress she’d been feeling seemed to have diminished. She was eager to sign up for Tread the Med again.

The Wellness Committee of Washington University School of Medicine started the program because walking is considered one of the easiest ways to improve one’s health, get fit and prevent disease. Research shows that taking 10,000 steps per day (about five miles) will significantly improve one’s health, says wellness coordinator Betsy Snyder.

With a current theme of Route 66, participants can envision themselves walking from Chicago to Santa Monica, Calif.

The program has drawn more than 2,000 participants each time.

To register and find more information about Tread the Med, including how to become a team captain, see the wellness committee’s website: