Healthy Strides

Fairfax County, Virginia


TTY 711

12055 Government Center Pkwy.
Fairfax, Virginia 22035

Elizabeth Ittner, M.S.,
Certified Wellness Practitioner

Healthy Strides

Upcoming Featured Events



12:00PM, Book: The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg Make healthy strides in your own…



11:00AM, Book: Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes Make healthy strides in your own life by…



11:00AM, Book: In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan Make healthy strides in your own…


Monthly e-Newsletter Subscription

Sign up to receive Healthy Strides news every month! Stay on track for making healthy changes in your life with our helpful articles and tips, as well as our free events schedule. The monthly trivia answers will be revealed and winner will be announced. Quick, easy and useful.

Healthy Strides 5k/10k

Head out to Burke Lake Park on May 4th and join the Fairfax County Park Authority for the 8th annual Healthy Strides 5k/10k!

2019 Calendar Download

Click here to download your copy of the Healthy Strides Annual Wall Calendar. Complimentary copies will be available at RECenters and select parks, community, and senior centers by mid-December.

2019 Calendar Cover

Step 1: Make Small Changes

Making a change for better health starts with small steps. Steady, intentional action toward a goal will surely set you up for success. Use this calendar as a guide for taking small steps that amount to big strides for a healthier life!

Making Healthy Strides in January

  • Announce your first healthy goal to friends and family, so they can cheer you on and support your efforts.
  • Get outside! Start the new year with First Hike Fairfax. More at First Hike
  • Take the Daily Mile Challenge – it’s 2,000 daily steps in a healthy direction.

Welcome to a NEW YEAR

It’s 2019… let’s all resolve to DO MORE for our health in this new year. Focusing on your own health can be easier said than done – Healthy Strides is the perfect way to get you started and keep you moving throughout the year. There is so much in store for Healthy Strides in 2019, including so many ways for YOU to get involved in making your community a healthier place to live, work and play. Remember to check the Healthy Strides website often for the most up-to-date information and event schedules.

What’s going to be so great about 2019…?

  • More RECenter Wellness Events and Health Fairs.
  • Wellness Book Club meetings at FCPL branches with a new book list! Plus, a BIG EVENT in October – stay tuned…
  • Healthy Strides 5k/10k on May (the) 4th (Be With You) … it will be an event of galactic proportions! Registration is open now!
  • NEW! Healthy Strides Walking Challenge at RECenters – beginning in March. Stay tuned…
  • NEW! Healthy Strides Ambassadors – we’re seeking community members who can lead the way for better health in Fairfax County and there are many opportunities for you to BE MORE, DO MORE with Healthy Strides! Plus, there’s perks. Check the Healthy Strides website early next year for more info.
  • NEW! Healthy Strides Walking Groups – meetups will be forming at parks in Spring 2019. Stay tuned…

Make 2019 the best year yet with Healthy Strides! Don’t forget to subscribe to the e-newsletter as well and pick up a wall calendar at your local RECenter, Community Center or Senior Center – or download it right here!

I sincerely thank you all for participating in the Healthy Strides program and wish you and your family a safe, enjoyable, and of course, HEALTHY holiday season!

Make Big Changes with Small Steps

January presents an opportunity for bettering ourselves every year. Oftentimes, when we set our minds to do something, we want to see change happen quickly. But change can be difficult and takes time. New habits take a lot of practice before they become routine.

So how can we make change stick? Take small steps toward a big goal. Here’s how and why slow and steady action will make you more likely to succeed.

Take it easy. Relax a little and try not to be super hard on yourself. Make sure to have fun, or at the very least, ease into each little step you take towards your mission. Going out too hard can lead to giving up.

Set yourself up for success. Ditch vague goals, like “I’m going to lose 20 pounds” – and opt for specific actions that you’re confident you can reach. The first step towards your weight loss goal might be to cut back on the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages you drink. Once you’ve succeeded, then add another easy step that takes you closer to the big goal.

Know yourself. Honestly note your strengths and weaknesses, you can set goals that are doable. If you sleep through your alarm every morning, don’t sign up for an early morning running group. If you’re an impulsive eater, don’t keep tempting junk food in the house. Many times, we wreck our plans to improve by making a change harder than it needs to be.

Be consistent. You won’t see big changes right away, but be patient and persistent. New behaviors take about 3 weeks to become a habit, so hang in there. Keeping a journal to track your progress can be very helpful.

Don’t forget to celebrate. We’re quick to criticize ourselves when we fall short of a goal, but a pat on the back for our successes -- even the small ones -- is crucial to staying motivated. When we’re rewarded (even by ourselves), our unconscious mind drives us to these healthy behaviors again.

Source: WebMD, "Make Big Changes With Small Steps"

Goals and Intentions

Goals and intentions are very similar in nature, and both can have a positive impact on your life. By partnering goals with intentions you will be able to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Here are three differences between goal setting and intentions:
  1. Goals are focused on the future. Intentions are in the present moment.
  2. Goals are a destination or specific achievement. Intentions are lived each day, independent of reaching the goal or destination.
  3. Goals are external achievements. Intentions are your inner-relationships with yourself and others.
Here’s an example. My goal is to hike to the top of a small mountain to see the extraordinary view from the summit. It’s a specific goal that gets me motivated to schedule the hike. Before I begin the hike, I set my intention to be present – see the sights and smells along the trail, notice the beauty of the plants and each twist in the trail. Even if I don’t achieve my goal of reaching the summit, sustaining my intention of being present during the hike will leave me with a great sense of fulfillment.

Source: TED*, "3 Differences Between Goals and Intentions

January Sponsor

This Healthy Step sponsored by

January Sponsors

CHALLENGE YOURSELF in 2019 by completing a mile a day! You can walk, bike, run, hike, swim… you name it, as long as you’re purposeful and you’re participating in an activity outside of your normal day-to-day routine. This has to be an extra effort for your health in order to count. For instance, distance from the car to the store would not count, nor would steps completed throughout your day. The Daily Mile only counts if you’re being active with purpose.

GET ACTIVE DAILY in the ways that make you feel good. Here are some examples of activities you can do by yourself, with a friend, or with a group.

Walk Jog Fitness Class*
Bike Run Dance
Hike Ski  
*1 mile equals 2,000 steps or 64 lengths in a 25-meter pool

STAY ACCOUNTABLE. Use the Healthy Strides wall calendar as a tool for accountability – each day has a little bubble you can check off for your daily mile. You can also keep track of your total miles for the month and the year using the calendar.

At the end of the month, REPORT your achievements. You will be reporting based on the honor system – be honest with yourself, this is supposed to be challenging!

You can self-report in two ways:

  1. By subscribing to the Healthy Strides e-newsletter – there will be an easy link to click each month for reporting.
  2. Come back to this page at the end of each month and report below.

GET REWARDS. Complete The Daily Mile Challenge, earn rewards!

100-199 miles reported = 2 RECenter daily admission guest passes
200-299 miles reported = Healthy Strides water bottle
300+ miles reported = Healthy Strides t-shirt

(Rewards will be given in January 2020, after December reporting is logged.)


Make healthy strides in your own life by joining the Healthy Strides Wellness Book Club! This club is for adults, and meets at different Fairfax County Public Library sites each month. Discussion on the featured books will be led by a Healthy Strides Ambassador, on topics in health, fitness, nutrition and wellness.

Download the 2019 Schedule and Reading List

Wellness Book Club

Play an important part of creating a healthy culture and community in Fairfax County! We are seeking people who are passionate about health and wellness, who are familiar with FCPA’s Healthy Strides program, and who want to tell a story of community wellness through parks. As a Healthy Strides Ambassador, you can participate in any of these roles:

  • Walking Group Leader – lead walks for the Healthy Strides Walking Group program. Must complete a basic training and commit to at least one hour per week.
  • Wellness Book Club Discussion Leader – read the book of the month (complimentary) and lead the discussion for that book at the scheduled Fairfax County Public Library.
  • Staff Support – help with Healthy Strides events, including the 5k/10k, monthly workshops and health fairs
  • Outreach – attend community events, representing FCPA’s Healthy Strides program
  • Park Rx Advocate – talk to doctors and medical practitioners about prescribing parks.

What is Park Rx?

Park Rx There are currently more than 400 studies that demonstrate the numerous health benefits that nature provides. FCPA’s Park Rx program is encouraging local medical practitioners to act on this research and prescribe park visits and activities as a way for managing chronic health conditions. There will be resources for patients and practitioners on the Healthy Strides website, coming soon.


All Healthy Strides Ambassadors receive a Welcome Packet, including a special Healthy Strides Ambassador t-shirt, water bottle, and “Ask Me” pin, as well as the benefits of being an FCPA volunteer.



Connect with new people, breathe fresh air… Get OUT and WALK! Healthy Strides Walking Groups meet at local parks on a weekly basis. Walk distance, level of difficulty, and population vary by group. All walking groups are led by a trained Healthy Strides Ambassador.

Healthy Strides 12 Steps to a Healthier You

About Healthy Strides

Welcome to Healthy Strides – giving you 12 Steps for a Healthier Year! Don't miss out on this year's great wellness opportunities in the Fairfax County community!

The Healthy Strides program is free* and anyone can participate at any time.

This program is designed to:

  • Help you accomplish healthy goals each month, with tips to keep you going for the duration.
  • Give you access to information - free workshops and a Wellness Book Club are available each month on different healthy topics.
  • Provide an opportunity for you to experience wellness programs offered across Fairfax County, including Mini-Health Fairs, held quarterly.
  • Empower you to make important lifestyle changes... you can do it!
*There is a registration fee to participate in the Healthy Strides 5k/10k.

Contact Us
Healthy Strides Program Coordinator:
Elizabeth Ittner, M.S., Certified Wellness Practitioner
Wellness Program Coordinator, Fairfax County Park Authority
Email |