Gaitor Challenge

Gaitor Challenge graphic

Through implementing a community health and wellness program, doctor of physical therapy students are challenged to find innovative and creative methods to motivate individuals to lead a healthy, active lifestyle.

During the summer of 2018, DPT students moved the walking program to Roper Park/Thomas Center near the heart of downtown Gainesville. Our GaiTOR Challenge family is loving the beautiful, shady stroll through the historic Duck Pond district. The UF Department of Physical Therapy partners with the Alachua Department of Health, which provides education and a linkage to services available to the community. First- and second-year students assist participants with goals to encourage activity and wellness, providing motivation and encouragement while walking in a peaceful and relaxed setting. Each year, GaiTOR Challenge hosts three season events during the fall, spring, and summer semesters.

DPT student with a participant at the Gaitor Challenge wellness walks

Participants are encouraged to set personal short- and long-term health goals such as:

  • Weight loss
  • Maintaining physical fitness
  • Enhancing the quality of life
  • Developing an exercise plan
  • Maintaining cardiovascular health
  • Accessing resources and social support to increase activity

The walking events are offered on Monday nights for six weeks each season with access to educational information for a specific theme each week. Some of these themes include:

  • Stretching
  • Nutrition
  • Foot care
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes awareness

Some of our former participants shared with us what GaiTOR Challenge meant to them.

“GaiTOR Challenge helps me get on schedule, and I’ve been told by the doctor to walk because it encourages me and gives me great self-motivation.” – Virginia Hayes

“Never give up until the end!” – Carris Cooper

If you are interested in participating in this wonderful opportunity, please email for further information or come to join us the first week for a full initiation and screening! Dates for future GaiTOR Challenge events will be posted closer to the time of the event. View our Summer Schedule.