The other reason for it is to give a number of people, mostly ladies, who are generally overweight and not physically fit, a way to make exercise "fun" and to also give them a goal to work towards. 248 miles of walking between May 11th and Dec 31st. Many of the participants have pedometers, so that any walking they do during the day will count towards the total mileage. Since I typically walk at least 12 miles a week just for fun, I'm only counting my actual outdoor exercise walks.
So far two of the ladies have expressed how they want this activity to help them lose weight and gain fitness, and have even gone so far as to post hard, honest facts as to their weight, body fat %, etc. (Incidentally, I'm 5' 7", weighed in at 142.5 lbs last Sunday, don't know my body fat %, but my measurements are about 35 - 28 - 39, and I'm happy with my body. I still wear push-up bras on occasion, though.)
Quite often, when a group of women get together and talk, they mostly want to share things and get support in return, rather than have anyone pipe up and tell them exactly how to solve their problems. This is why I haven't posted anything to the group list along the lines of, "You know, exercise is only a minor, but relevant, contributor to actual weight loss. Diet is much more important, so if you really want to lose weight you're probably going to have to make major changes in your eating habits." I think it would be unwanted interference. But I do want these ladies to succeed in their health goals, and to have access to all the information they might need as to nutrition.
I just get frustrated at some people's foolishness sometimes. (Not these individuals, but people in general.) The ones who look at me and what I bring for lunch and say something along the lines of, "Oh, I totally need to lose weight; I should eat what you eat" while continuing to eat junk day after day. Or the ones who "go on a diet", lose pounds, go back to their previous eating habits, and gain the weight back. Yes, "diets" fail. However, a diet in the sense of proper and healthy relationship with food, eating normal portions of actual food, and adding to that regular physical activity as our bodies were meant to perform, that works.
The reason that I lost weight in the first place (from my high of around 185-190 lbs as a teenager) and have maintained my healthy weight all these years is because I don't go back to bad habits. Yes, I spend what some people would consider a lot of time exercising and cooking good food in my kitchen. Those are priorities to me, to facilitate continuing good health. It's not really that much time, however. One could sit down and watch an hour-long prime time television special, or one could go for a lovely 3-4 mile walk outside. Or compare a 1/2-hour television show to the time that it takes to prep some veggies and protein and get them cooking in a tasty soup. To keep going with this, I could make a multi-course dinner and dessert for 6 in the time that some people spend on computer games. Because it's my priority.
This pet peeve extends over the range of anyone who is constantly saying, "I should do X." or "I really want to do Y." and then never does it. Whether it is weight loss, or swordfighting classes, or meeting up with me for a coffee. I'm fine if they don't every do it--I just don't want to constantly hear about how they keep meaning to do it. If you really want something, you can make it a priority and you can make it happen. But it requires you.