VCU Kicks off New Fitness Program
University Public Affairs
In the dog days of the hot Richmond summer, the thought of leaving an air conditioned office and a comfortable chair keeps many office workers indoors and inactive. But that's not the case for 49 brave Virginia Commonwealth University employees, who will lace up their walking shoes and step up to face the heat this summer in the Global Corporate Challenge, the world’s largest workplace wellness program.
“We spent the last semester looking for ways to increase our wellness program," said Debbie Fitzgerald of Human Resources. "When we saw this program, it looked like a fun way to get employees up and moving."
The challenge officially started Thursday, May 24. More than 40 employees met at the University Student Commons Plaza to kickoff the challenge.
Assistant professor Eric West of Recreational Sports led the walkers in some warm-up exercises, after which they took their inaugural official trek around Monroe Park. This is VCU's first year taking part in the challenge. Its teams are Sole Patrol, High Heels, Walking on Sunshine, RAMblers, Honeybee’s, Sassy Sole Sisters and Trekkers. The teams made signs and rallied behind one another as the challenge commenced.
One walker, Cynthia McMullen, director of public relations at the School of Pharmacy and a member of the High Heels, signed up for the health benefits. "Walking seems like the path of least resistance, and study upon study shows that walking is just a great, easy, inexpensive way to exercise. Plus, you can do it anywhere and everywhere, on your own or with a group.”
Last year more than 130,000 people worldwide participated in the challenge averaging 12,725 steps a day. The average corporate worker only averages roughly 3,000 steps a day.
The Global Corporate Challenge issues each member a starter pack that includes two pedometers and a backpack and encourages participants to step up their day-to-day activity. With results such as an increase in weight loss, decrease in blood pressure and an increase in productivity, the challenge offers a positive impact to both physical health and workplace environment. The challenge entails teams of seven working together to log 10,000 steps — or about five miles — per person each day for a 16-week stretch. Participants also take a virtual walking tour based off how many actual steps they log.
The challenge runs through Sept. 12.