Spring into Motion: DOI's Annual Challenge
Since 2014, the Department of Insurance (DOI) has sponsored a spring walking challenge – and it’s been great! This year’s event, Spring into Motion: The Sequel held from May 13 to June 23, was no different.
The first thing to know about the walking challenge is that it not only about walking. A primary objective is to encourage daily fitness practices, so the general rule is “if it clicks, it counts” meaning any activity registering on a device during waking hours of the challenge period is acceptable. The results are increased participation in healthy behaviors, a fun sense of camaraderie and a good dose of friendly competition.
This year, 28 DOI employees registered as competitive or non-competitive participants and were assigned to five teams: Sole Train, Fromm Here to There, Between a Walk and a Hard Pace, Roadrunners and The Casual Counters (non-competitive). Teams had five or six members, so average step-count per member was used instead of total step count for team rankings.
Participants used pedometers or fitness devices/apps to track their steps. The challenge lasted six weeks and contest weeks ran Friday through Thursday, so walkers were encouraged to enter their numbers into a tracking program daily, but at least weekly, on Thursday. Each Friday results and rankings for the previous week were posted on the intranet for all to see. It was great seeing the numbers grow, and individuals and teams achieve the goals that made the challenge work for them.
The team with the highest average step count per member at the end of the 6-week challenge were The Winners! Prizes included bragging rights, a team lunch with (and courtesy of) Director Cameron, and Dress Down Thursdays for 4 weeks.
Other “winning” categories were
- High Stepper Award–awarded bi-weekly; 3 participants won donated gift certificates
- The Coveted Copper Sneaker Award–awarded bi-weekly; it is a traveling trophy for:
- Photo Contests – Participants voted for photos taken while walking/riding during the challenge period (awarded the 2nd, 4th and 6th weeks)
- Get ‘Em Moving award – a drawing of those organizing and recruiting others for a group activity (2 or more participants)
To encourage our resident cyclists, swimmers and yogis, using a step conversion chart for activities that don’t register on a pedometer was added by popular vote. The chart included many activities, so was a good way to earn credit for all those things we all do each and every day but never seem to show on a fitness app. It was also a source of some confusion and contention. Next year, limiting the use to specific exercise activities will be proposed, since that is the focus of the event.
We strongly encourage you to consider organizing a walking challenge in your agency. There are challenges – like finding meeting times, agreeing on measures/tools, beating the heat, and remembering to post steps (especially while on vacation!) - but the rewards are worth it! The Walking Challenge created a buzz around the office and a sense of team. People like feeling better and they love to win!
- Have at least one person coordinate the challenge, but try to have a small team
- Foster team cohesion – picking names and making team signs encourages bonding
- Activate your team leaders; they are critical to keep the communication and motivation going with their group
- Motivate by sending out email blasts with updates and upcoming prizes
- Meet regularly (but quickly) using morning or afternoon breaks
- Provide a system that allows participants to enter steps, follow their personal and team progress, and check rules
- Award prizes throughout the challenge to keep participants involved and excited
- Consider having competitive and non-competitive teams and prizes so those who feel they may “hurt” a team because they can’t walk as much or those who want to join after the start may still participate
Who were the winners? – Everyone!!! Here are some stats and fun facts…
- Each of the competitive teams logged over 1.7 million steps, total.
- Together, the 28 participants logged 9,577,899 steps. That’s the equivalent of walking to Pensacola, Florida and back!
- The Top Stepper walked (approximately) the distance to Salt Lake City.
- The Winners! Sole Train (average of 466,772 steps per participant)
- Top Stepper (Individual with highest count for challenge) - Jo McGill
739,339 (over ¾ of a million) steps, approximately 350 miles
- High Stepper: Weeks 1 & 2 - Bob Cooper
- High Stepper: Weeks 3 & 4 – Karl Fromm
- High Stepper: Weeks 5 & 6 – Jo McGill
- The Coveted Copper Sneaker Award:
- Photo Contest #1 (Week 2) – October Nickel
- Get ‘Em Moving (Week 3) - Jo McGill
- Photo Contest #2 (Week 4) – Jo McGill
- Photo Contest #3 (Week 6) – Becky Barton-Wagner
The Walking Challenge is now a fun tradition at DOI! We encourage you to give it a try in your agency.
Spring into Motion: the Sequel Coordinators
Idaho Department of Insurance
Are you a State of Idaho Employee, Retiree, or spouse with a Success Story to share? Email Health Matters.
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