It wasn’t what we were thinking of when we created our JobClocks. But we did put heart into them—so the fact that they are now helping others keep their hearts healthy has a certain symmetry.

This spring in Allentown, Pennsylvania, hundreds of city residents of all ages began “clocking in” on five designated walking paths throughout the city on ExakTime JobClock/EXs, using ExakTime Keytabs, 500 of which ExakTime donated to the cause.

“We have seen our product on everything from school busses to skyscrapers, but we are surprised and proud to see it contributing to the health of a community,” said ExakTime President John O’Hara. “We are thrilled to help sponsor such a great cause.”

The program, Million Clicks for Million Hearts, was conceived by the Allentown Health Bureau as a part of the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s Million Hearts™ initiative, which aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

“It’s a unique idea. We’ve had a good response so far, even without a lot of publicity,” said Allentown Nutrition and Physical Activity Manager Tina Amato. “We’re very excited to see how it goes.”

An Intern Finds ExakTime

Allentown first used one of ExakTime’s JobClocks for a walking program in 2011 called the LifeTrail Club after a parks department employee (then-intern) discovered us online.

“We were looking for some way to track people, and she did some research and came back with ExakTime’s JobClock,” Amato recalled.

The city mounted a JobClock at the head of a city park trail that also featured multiple exercise stations. Participants, who had to be 50 or older, used Keytabs to register their walks on the clock, which made them eligible for monthly prizes and educational talks.

Ramping It Up

When the health bureau received funding from Million Hearts as part of a state grant, Amato and her colleagues thought back to the success of using the JobClock for the LifeTrail Club. “We said, ‘Why don’t we just really go big with it?’” she recalled.

Allentown is the third largest city in Pennsylvania, and heart disease is the number one killer there, as it is in the rest of the nation. Recent findings have shown that walking reduces the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes as much as running, according to the American Heart Association.

So for Million Clicks, Amato and her team ramped up their “click-in stations” to five walking paths throughout the city, some downtown and some within the city’s beautiful parks.

There’s no age restriction this time, and interest has been high. “We’ve given out 500 Keytabs, and we got 1,000 clicks in the first month of the program,” which kicked off April 7, Amato said.

Every time a participant clicks in during the month, their name is entered again to win one of the monthly prizes, which range from health club discounts to restaurant gift certificates.

Bigger Horizons

The health bureau plans to use some free billboard space, post signs at all the trails, and publish articles in local media as part of a bigger publicity push over the next several months.

Amato says they are hoping the initiative will attract upwards to 3,000 participants, which might mean adding more clocks to more trails.

She also expressed hope for some more widespread recognition of the program, which was submitted for a national award.

“We want to get the word out for the health of our city,” Amato said, “and hopefully share our success statewide and even nationally among our partners in public health. And we’re grateful for ExakTime’s help.”