MSU Health Care Sports Medicine Mileage Club Empowers Over 10,000 Mid-Michigan Students to Achieve Healthy Habits in Spring Season

June 20, 2024

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The 2024 MSU Health Care Sports Medicine Mileage Club spring season has been successful in promoting physical activity among over 10,000 students from 33 mid-Michigan elementary schools. Collectively, they walked or ran over 95,000 miles. Fitness Finders, located in Jackson, MI, operates the program and is recognized as the #1 run program for elementary schools in the United States. 

Washington Woods Middle School sixth grader Lauren Davis with Fitness Finders sales associate Scott SundbergSponsored by MSU Health Care Sports Medicine, the Fitness Finders Mileage Club encourages students to remain active. A student’s progress is tracked through running or walking during recess and through physical education classes. Participants are rewarded with foot-shaped plastic Toe Tokens at each milestone. Students throughout mid-Michigan made great strides both literally and figuratively. Students who participated in the program averaged 9.44 miles walking or running over six weeks between April 22 and May 31. One sixth grade student at Washington Woods Middle School, Lauren Davis, ran over 150 miles. She attributes her accomplishment to her love of running, her natural competitive nature and her experience participating in numerous sports. 

Lauren said her large group of friends support one another while they’re running. One of her favorite parts of the Mileage Club was cheering and being cheered on by her friends. Lauren and her friend high-fived each other every time they passed each other on the track. 

“Start with running a very short distance and work your way up to doing longer distances,” Lauren said. “Also, have goals for yourself. That will help give you the motivation and it feels great when all your hard work helps you to reach a goal.” 

Physical activity plays an integral role in shaping a child's future health. It contributes to maintaining a healthy weight, enhances cardiovascular fitness, bone strength and muscular coordination. According to the CDC, 20.7% of children ages 6–11 in the US are obese. Staying active also positively impacts cognitive function, mood regulation, and social interactions which are vital components of a child’s development. 

“Engaging in regular exercise helps children build healthy habits that can last a lifetime, enhancing their health, both physical and mental, as well as having positive impacts on academic performance, self-esteem, and ability to interact with peers,” said Robert Root, DO, associate chief medical officer and pediatrician at MSU Health Care. “Walking and running programs are essential in fostering these benefits by encouraging children to stay active in a fun and supportive environment.” 

Woodworth Elementary School kindergartner Kingsley Baer with Fitness Finders sales associate Scott SundbergAnother student from Woodworth Elementary School completed laps alongside the school’s therapy dog Aala. Kindergartener Kingsley Baer completed countless laps with only the aid of Aala. This is extraordinary because developmental delays prevented Kingsley from learning to walk until he was four years old. When he did learn to walk, he began by scooting and eventually graduated to walking with a walker. Kingsley said participating in the Mileage Club helped him be busy, although the distances can feel long. 

“A memorable moment for me doing the Mileage Club was getting to walk with Aala,” Kingsley said. “She helps me walk faster and keeps me motivated. While the distances can be challenging, I've found the determination to push through.”  

MSU Health Care Sports Medicine welcomes additional schools to join the Fitness Finders Mileage Club program and actively participate in the fight against childhood obesity. Interested schools can contact Scott Sundberg at (800) 789-9255. 


Media Contact:
Andrea Mackey
(517) 353-1327