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Rochester Hospitals, Excellus BCBS Launch Walking Contest

January 07, 2013

Highland employees help kickoff walking competition
Highland employees help kickoff walking competition

Rochester’s hospitals and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield are partnering with the American Heart Association to help their employees get a healthy start to the New Year.

On Jan. 7 at Highland Hospital, leaders from Highland, Rochester General, Strong Memorial (University of Rochester) and Unity hospitals and Excellus BCBS kicked off a friendly fitness contest called “WalkingWorks.” 

“A friendly competition among some of the largest employers in Rochester is a great way to educate up to 10 percent of the local workforce on how regular exercise can help protect people from some of the most serious chronic health issues,” said Dorothy A. Coleman, executive vice president and chief financial officer, Excellus BCBS.

“We know that one in three local adults has high blood pressure, one in 10 have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and about two-thirds are obese or overweight,” she added.

Employees who join the contest will earn points for their organization by walking for exercise at their work locations and elsewhere. They’ll log their progress using an online tracking tool. WalkingWorks administrators will tally each employer’s average miles per participant and announce a weekly leader. The leading organization each week will receive raffle prizes to offer its employees. At the end of the six-week competition, the organization with the highest average exercise rate among its employees will be announced the winner.

To help employees fit regular exercise into their schedules, the employers are encouraging them to take walks on their work breaks, using routes inside their facilities as well as nearby parks and public footpaths. The Rochester chapter of the American Heart Association is helping the project by mapping walking trails for Excellus BCBS and each hospital.

WalkingWorks is a BlueCross BlueShield Association program that cities around the country have used to raise awareness about the importance of exercise and to give participants an incentive to get up and moving. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise.

WalkingWorks gives participants an easy and fun way to start exercising regularly, track their progress and see results,” said Amanda Shanahan, a registered dietitian and a corporate wellness program manager at Excellus BCBS. “The competitive aspect of this program gives participants motivation to stay active throughout the six weeks in hopes that the healthy habits they’ve formed will continue long after the contest is complete.”

The hospitals are funding the six-week program, including the purchase of many of the prizes. Fleet Feet Sports is helping the program in a large way by educating employees. Fleet Feet is also donating prizes along with the Spa at the Del Monte.

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