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  Home   Press Releases   Article Tuesday, April 16, 2024  
Health Walkers: Motivation on the Web
By Dean Woodbeck ( ) - Editor
Michigan Tech Alumnus
Volume 40, Number 3, December 2003

Twins, a wedding and walking all combined to launch Don Gleneski '86 on a career as a web-based motivator. His wife's desire to walk for fitness, his love of spreadsheets, and some prodding at a family wedding led the electrical engineer to develop

"HealthWalkers came about because of our twins," Gleneski said. His wife, Nancy, was looking for a little extra motivation for her post-partum walking program. "I dug out my engineering books and set forth helping her," he said. "I immediately started to set up various spreadsheets and graphs to help her track her progress."

A few months later, at a family wedding, the talk turned into an engineer's approach to motivation. "By the next morning, I found I had committed myself to setting up a web-based database, so everyone could monitor each other's progress and motivate one-another."

Thus was born HealthWalkers as a fitness tracking Web site and walking club.

Gleneski expanded beyond the original walking club when members began asking about cycling and aerobics and flexibility and even cross-country skiing.

The site tabulates lifetime miles and various statistics for the last 30 days. The statistics change instantly, once an entry is made. Members can choose their fitness activity, enter their daily time or mileage, and see their improvement and how they compare with others. Gleneski even created "performance points" to try to equalize and normalize various activities.

To date, the site has served more than 2500 members. Membership fluctuates, however, depending on the season and individual needs," Gleneski said. "Mothers looking to shed excess pregnancy weight will often remain only until they reach their goal. A senior may walk on a more permanent bases" and log an entry every day.

The HealthWalkers guru also creates special activities to increase motivation. Those who joined a "survivor" challenge, for example, with targets based on their previous individual statistics. Meet your target each week and you are still in the game.

For the future, Gleneski said he would like to attract more members and have real clubs - like cycling groups or mall-walkers - start using the site for tracking purposes. He also hopes to attract sponsors, perhaps cardiology clinics or other medical centers, to help people and their exercise programs.

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