With more than 4,000 teams registered, Lighten Up Louisiana is fast becoming the most successful program in the country to challenge people to lose weight and become more physically active. According to Rudy Macklin, director of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and Lighten Up coordinator, Louisiana has more teams signed up than other states that have similar programs.

“We had a goal of registering 2,000 teams,” Macklin explained. “Based on the results in Iowa and Alabama, we felt that was a realistic but challenging goal. But Lighten Up has caught on like a craze, and many thousands of people throughout the state are now keeping track of what they eat and how much they walk or run.”

Macklin says although it is never too late to register a team, and the online registration system will remain active through January, teams only can make changes for a few more days.

“We have been deluged with requests to change the makeup of teams, change team names and revise e-mail addresses,” Macklin explained. “Therefore, we are advising teams that all change requests must be made by Friday, Sept. 10.”

Every team that was registered by last week will receive pedometers for each team member. These devices measure and record steps, allowing members to accurately track their mileage. But, the massive response to Lighten Up has resulted in there not being any more pedometers to provide to teams that register late.

Macklin, though, reminds participants that the Lighten Up Web site, http://www.lightenuplouisiana.org/, has charts that convert regular chores and activities into miles.

“A pedometer is very helpful for providing feedback as to activity levels, and many people find them to offer motivation to do more exercise each day,” he said. “But, even without a pedometer, people can easily measure their activity by converting to miles activities such as cycling, vacuuming, gardening or any other activity that burns calories.