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(MINNEAPOLIS) --- Minnesota's long winter is finally over. A great way to break out of the winter slump is to take part in the annual Step To It Challenge!

The event is a four week walking program which takes place during the month of May. It is designed to encourage people to get active by walking every day.

The challenge, which draws thousands of people to compete each year, will be held in these communities: Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Champlin, Crystal, Eden Prairie, Excelsior, Golden Valley, Hopkins, Maple Grove, Maple Plain, Minnetonka, Minnetonka Beach, New Hope, Orono, Osseo, Plymouth, Richfield, Robbinsdale, Rogers, Southside/SabathaniCommunity, Shorewood, St. Louis Park, and United Tribes of Little Earth.

People who live or work in the 24 participating communities can register online for the challenge; to register or for more information, check out www.steptoit.org.

Participation in the Step To It Challenge is absolutely free. The challenge encourages residents to be physically active as local communities engage in friendly competition. Bragging rights will go to the community that is most active and to those that have the highest average "steps" per participant. Last year Brooklyn Park and Crystal, respectively, took top honors.

The Minnesota Twins are back as the corporate sponsor of this year's challenge. The top stepper in each community will win a pair of Twins tickets and be recognized at Target Field during a Twins game this summer.

New this year, the challenge has incorporated a green theme, "Step To It Challenge, Taking Green Strides." Participants are encouraged to "take green strides" that help them be more active while also saving natural resources. Whether it's walking or biking, picking up litter, or helping plant a community garden, these green activities can help participants achieve their goals or maybe even win their community's "Most Active Resident" award.

Look for more news on the Hennepin County website at www.hennepin.us.

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