WASHINGTON, DC -- More than 1,500 YMCAs nationwide this week are participating in America On the Move Week with the YMCA. The campaign, which is a partnership of the America On the Move Foundation and the YMCA of the USA, was created to educate and motivate people to make two small daily changes -- taking 2,000 more steps and eating 100 fewer calories -- which research shows can prevent the average annual weight gain of one to two pounds per year.

YMCAs set a national goal of 1 million participants and a collective total of 10 billion steps during the week this year. In 2006, more than 800,000 people participated in the week, logging 9.3 million steps.

“National headlines and warnings about our nation's health crisis are not inspiring change,” says Neil Nicoll, president and CEO of YMCA of the USA. “We must get out there into our communities and work directly with people to help them take the first critical steps toward a healthier life.”

This year, the YMCA is also incorporating neighborhood/community walkability assessments as part of its week-long activities. Ys are encouraging people to take walks and complete questionnaires to determine how friendly the community is for pedestrians and cyclists by rating criteria such as room to walk, ease in crossing streets, behavior of drivers and general safety and pleasantness.

Participants can track their steps online at www.ymca.net and follow their progress on a new YMCA-themed virtual trail. Once registered, participants have access to the walkability assessments and helpful tips on how to add more steps and reduce their calorie intake.