Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Tread the Med
In an effort to promote a healthier and more active lifestyle, the Wellness Committee of Washington University School of Medicine has implemented an initiative called "Tread the Med." Challenging us to incorporate more walking into our daily routines, the Wellness Committee decked the school with colorful posters outlining various walking trails, called MedPaths, conveniently located throughout campus along with the approximate number of steps and corresponding miles each trail entails. Additionally, the Committee launched the Walk Star Campaign, a 100-day program in which participants aim to walk 10,000 steps (about 5 miles) each day. To make things more interesting, the participants formed teams, tracked the number of steps they took with a pedometer included with their $5 registration fee, and uploaded their stats on the Walk Star website, which went towards their specific team's average number of steps walked.
Nancy VanderHeyden Campbell, a Senior Research Technician in the Department of Medicine, captained a team for the Walk Star Campaign, and she kindly agreed to share her experience and insights about the program. She became motivated to form a team after reading an email from the Wellness Committee describing the Campaign and thinking what tremendous fun it would be to participate. During the 100 days of the program however, Nancy did encounter some challenges. Understandably, accomplishing the target number of steps was one. "I definitely had to step up my walking to get to 10,000 daily," she shares. And as captain, she also had to work hard to make sure all her team members recorded the number of steps they took on the website to ensure the team was getting the credit it deserved. Anna McCulley, a Postdoctoral Research Associate also in the Department of Medicine, works with Nancy and was recruited to be on the team. As Anna is a runner (one who participates in half marathons) and already leads a very active lifestyle, it may be surprising to hear that she signed up to do this. Her reasons include thinking that walking would nicely supplement her training and, primarily, wanting to meet new people and get away from the stressful work environment. Happily, Anna was able to do this and fondly reminisces about "getting together with people and walking and enjoying the team" during lunch hours. Anna also has an interesting suggestion that ought to be taken into account the next time a campaign like this happens. She thinks it might be a good idea to divide the competition into a walking-only component and one that incorporates more intense activity such as hiking and biking, thus attracting a broader spectrum of people.
The Walk Star Campaign concluded on January 5th, 2012, and results reported by the Wellness Committee suggest the campaign was a success. Over 1,800 walkers participated, recording over 1 billion steps in the 100 days of the challenge. The numbers were quite astounding; the team with the highest step count, the Heavy Breathers, walked an average of 1,325,526 steps equivalent to 627.62 miles, while the individual who walked the most recorded 4,052,780 steps equivalent to 1918.93 miles. In a nice gesture, all participants were recognized in a ceremony on Feb. 3rd, 2012, and the top 10 teams and 10 individuals were also specially honored. Another campaign is being planned for the spring, so those who missed out this time will get a second chance to sign up.