Residents can register by April 15 for a new “fitness challenge” designed to promote physical activity and healthy eating habits.

The programme is tailored for group and individual walkers, according to government, which is organising the effort.

During the course of the one-year challenge, ten-member groups will attempt to “walk around the world” by taking an estimated 24 million steps, and individuals will take a “Volcanic Relief Mission to Montserrat” by taking a total of 2.6 million steps.

Ivy George, coordinator for Health Promotions Services, said participants have much to gain.

“Physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health,” she said. “It helps with controlling your weight, reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers. Physical activity also strengthens muscles and bones, improves your mental health and mood, improves your ability to do daily activities, and increases your chances of living longer.”

The fitness challenge is part of an ongoing programme designed to increase physical activity in residents between the ages of 25 to 64.

A collaborative effort between the Ministry Health and Social Development and the BVI Olympic Committee, it is one of many initiatives undertaken through the Health and Wellness and Non-communicable Diseases Prevention Programme, according to government.

The $30 registration fee covers the cost of a 64-ounce thermos water bottle, a portion control plate, and reflective gear for walking safely at night.

For information call Sophia Brewley-Massiah at 468-4595 or e-mail at sbrewley-massiah@gov.

The ministry has implemented a 10-year strategy to improve the health and well-being of the population and thus reduce the rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases in the territory.