Living your best life with arthritis.

AS it Goes – Ready, Willing, and Able to WYASO

Fran wearing her Vivofit bracelet for WYASO

Fran wearing her Vivofit bracelet

The “Walk Your A.S. Off” (WYASO) campaign is gearing up for another year with April designated as training month and May 1st as the official kickoff of the campaign. The goal of WYASO is to promote awareness of spondylitis (and the family of related diseases) and to encourage people to become more active, specifically through keeping track of their daily steps or other physical activities.

I’ve participated in WYASO in the past couple of years, setting modest personal goals that I can exceed (is that cheating?) and dutifully submitting the tally to my team captain, who adds everyone’s steps together at the end of a week to come up with an impressive total. A weekly email also reports comments from team participants about their progress (or lack of) and we all marvel at how many thousands of collective steps we have achieved in spite of our physical challenges. Many walkers also use WYASO as a fundraising method to raise monies for research into AS. Moreover, if you need a little competition to keep things exciting, you can sign up for the million step challenge and become members of an “exclusive” club.

While I am already a walker, I find that WYASO provides me (and my trusty four-legged walking companion) with just the right dose of motivation. As I lace up my sneakers, I know that others all over the world are also doing the same, with the same goal. Some walkers conscript their friends and family to join them on their walks, and the WYASO movement gains in popularity each successive year.

In the past, I relied on an inexpensive pedometer to record my daily steps. However, the totals always seemed a bit low, especially at the end of the day after a long walk outdoors and a day of gardening and household chores. Nonetheless, I faithfully reported them as the pedometer indicated. So this year, when my birthday rolled around, I asked for a more sophisticated device to keep track of my steps. I am now outfitted with a Garmin Vivofit, one of the many fitness wristbands currently available on the market.

This clever purple bracelet not only tracks my steps, but I can set walking goals, see the distance traveled and learn how many calories I have burned. It also monitors my sleeping patterns (I am not so keen on this aspect as it just confirms how erratic my sleep rhythms really are). At the end of a day, I can download all the data to a Garmin app on my iPad, which compiles the information and let’s me know if I met my personal walking goals and whether I should up my game.

The biggest benefit of the Vivofit is that it keeps me active: if I sit for an hour, the red move bar on the face reminds me to move and then it re-sets after I walk around for a few minutes. (I can also choose to ignore it).

Fran HalterAfter using the Vivofit for a few days, I was vindicated in my suspicion that my old pedometer was short-changing me on the number of steps I took in a day. Turns out I am achieving many more than I thought, so my confidence has received a welcome boost as I go into the WYASO training season. Maybe the million step club will welcome a new member this year? ~Fran