With ClubPed (www.diabetes.org/clubped), the American Diabetes Association urges everyone to walk for health and fitness. Users get support in meeting goals and earn rewards in the form of tricks performed by a virtual dog or new chapters of an "evolving story."
To track your progress, you'll want a pedometer.The site sells them, packaged with an educational booklet, for $19.95. (Pedometers are also sold at sporting goods stores for as little as $10.) Every time you log on, the site displays a graph of your daily step log.
Despite decades of avid walking, I'd never worn a pedometer before. I did 2,000 steps -- about a mile -- just puttering around the office. Getting to 10,000, the long-term goal, takes more effort. For those who might fudge, the pedometer keeps you honest.
Certain things mystified me. After logging a few miles, I was told, "Good work! You are on a higher step scale." Higher than what? And if my virtual doggie is in "top condition," why does he still seem plagued by fleas? Maybe the message board moderator can answer.
ClubPed's relatively low-tech graphics may not hold a user's interest forever. But the support of fellow walkers on the message board may keep you coming back. I plan to stick around at least long enough to see my doggie jump through a hoop of fire.