July 5, 2011 |

History Center blends health and history with SmartSteps

The Senator John Heinz History Center and UPMC Health Plan have partnered to encourage museum visitors to climb the stairs and blend health and history with the launch of SmartSteps, a new fun and fit.

Visitors who forego the elevator and take the steps to explore the History Center's six floors will be treated to a unique exhibit in the stairwells, featuring innovative facts and artifacts related to Pittsburgh history along with UPMC Health Plan health and wellness tips, such as how many calories they have burned, that will encourage them to lead a healthier lifestyle.

"As the Smithsonian's home in Pittsburgh, the History Center is proud to be, as far as we know, the first museum in the nation with an exhibition in its stairwell," said Andy Masich, president and CEO of the History Center. "The SmartSteps exhibit will motivate History Center visitors to exercise their body while engaging their minds with Western Pennsylvania history."

"We hope this initiative will be a fun and easy way to spread the message about the benefits of incorporating light exercise into your day," said Diane P. Holder, president, UPMC Health Plan. "By choosing activities that you can easily fit into a daily routine – such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator – you can accumulate small amounts of exercise throughout the day that can provide significant health benefits."

The steps will contain artifacts and fun Pittsburgh facts related to local people, places, and events that tie into History Center themes. In addition to the floor-by-floor themes, visitors can keep track of their step count through several numbered steps that correspond to notable Pittsburgh facts and figures. For instance, step #3 highlights the three rivers, step #21 denotes Roberto Clemente, and step #57 is for Heinz.

Visitors who participate in SmartSteps and take the stairs to all six levels of the History Center will be rewarded with a complimentary collectible Heinz pickle pin. The pin was one of H.J. Heinz's earliest marketing tools, used to lure visitors to his company's exhibit at the 1893 World's Fair.

SmartSteps

ties into the national initiative "Let's Move! Museums & Gardens," started by First Lady Michelle Obama and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The new campaign, which was announced in May 2011, is designed to provide opportunities for millions of museum and garden visitors of all ages to learn about healthy food choices and to promote physical activity through interactive exhibits and programs.

The History Center is one of a select few museums across the nation and just the sixth site in Pennsylvania to participate in the IMLS initiative.

"The History Center continues to strive for a healthy and participatory experience for our visitors," said Masich. "The SmartSteps exhibit and ‘Let's Move!' program is the latest of our wellness initiatives, which also include the Health & Body section inside our Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, the new MixStirs Café with healthier eating options, and the upcoming ‘History & Fit' program, which encourages visitors to enjoy a whirlwind 45 minute walking tour of 250 years of local history."

More information on the SmartSteps exhibit is available at www.heinzhistory center.org.

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