Walk to Traverse City challenge approaching final leg

Graphic of virtual walk to Traverse City
from the June 27 issue of “Blues News Direct”

by Vera Ogletree

There’s just a little more than four weeks remaining in the Walkingspree Walk to Traverse City challenge. Nearly 350 employees have already uploaded at least 504,000 steps – the step count needed to walk from the Renaissance Center to Traverse City – since the start of the challenge on May 7.

“The response has been great,” said Jamie Gipson, manager, Employee Benefits. “There’s a buzz around the company about the challenge. I’m even aware of at least one division that upped the challenge’s bounty by offering additional prizes to employees for reaching divisional walking goals.”

As part of the Walk to Traverse City challenge, participants who logged at least 168,000 steps through June 3 were entered in the four-week mark drawing to win one of five $75 Dick’s Sporting Goods gift cards. The five lucky winners were:

Ryan Cuz, BCN The Commons
Robert Gray, Renaissance Center
Bill Norris, Jefferson Building
Sherry Ossy, Detroit Tower
Jason Viaene, Renaissance Center

The deadline to upload steps for the second individual prize drawing at the eight-week mark is just days away. Participants who have at least 338,000 steps through July 1 will automatically be entered in a drawing to win one of two pairs of Detroit Tigers tickets.

Participants have until July 5 to upload their steps. Note: Employees must reload the Walkingspree software to their computers following the Windows 7 upgrade. The drawing will be held on July 6.

Gipson encourages challenge participants to upload their steps frequently so their team’s status is updated with the latest information on the Walkingspree site. Cindy Dion’s team currently leads the walking groups, followed in second place by Ira Strumwasser.

At the end of the 12-week challenge, all teams that collectively meet the average step count of 6,000 per day, per employee, will be entered in a final drawing to select the winning team for a luncheon and the Traveling BWell trophy.

The individuals on the winning team will be entered in the drawing to win one of five $75 gift cards or the grand prize of a weekend trip to the Traverse City Great Wolf Lodge or the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

The Walk to Traverse City Challenge ends July 29.

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Eat Blueberries for Your Heart

fresh blueberries
Blueberries top the fruit chart when it comes to antioxidants and just one cup will provide you with a healthy dose of fiber and a quarter of your daily vitamin C requirement.

Plus they are low in calories – about 80 calories a cup – and it takes little or no preparation to enjoy these little gems of goodness.

But wait, it gets better!

Eating blueberries may help get rid of belly fat – the fat that surrounds your internal organs and that is linked to heart disease and diabetes.

In a study, scientists fed rats that were bred to be severely overweight, either a low-fat or high-fat diet plus powder made from freeze-dried blueberries.
A control group received no blueberry powder.

After the 90-day study, both groups of rats that ate the blueberry powder had less abdominal fat, lower triglycerides and lower cholesterol compared to the control group.

“Some measurements were changed by blueberry even if the rats were on a high-fat diet,” said lead researcher E. Mitchell Seymour, MS, of the University of Michigan’s Cardioprotection Research Laboratory, in a news release.

So be sure to pick up a pint or two over the weekend to enjoy with your cereal in the morning or as an afternoon snack.

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Too hot to walk? Go the the mall! (video)

If summer’s sweltering heat or winter’s sub zero temps ever deter you from walking, take a trip to your local indoor mall. It’s a great place to meet other walkers who will help keep you motivated.

We hope this short video will inspire you to keep moving. And for more inspiration, check out this article on a group of Walkingspree mall walkers.

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Eat Smart! Eat less red meat, live longer

Burgers at a cookout
Eating red meat is associated with an increased risk of premature death, and healthier proteins with a lower risk, according to a study released last March.

Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health followed the eating habits and health of participants who were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer at the beginning of two long term studies – 37,698 men from the Health Professional Follow-up Study and 83,644 women from the Nurses’ Health Study.

The study found that eating red meat, especially processed meat, was associated with an increased risk of mortality. Eating a serving – about the size of a deck of cards – of unprocessed red meat (a steak or roast) every day increased a person’s risk of dying by 13%, and one serving of processed red meat (one hot dog or two slices of bacon) daily by 20%.

Those risks went down if the red meat was substituted with nuts, white meat, low-fat dairy or whole grain proteins. Eating a serving of nuts was associated with a 19% lower risk of dying; poultry or whole grains, 14%; low-fat dairy or legumes, 10%; and fish, 7%.

“Our study adds more evidence to the health risks of eating high amounts of red meat, which has been associated with type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers in other studies,” said lead author An Pan, research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard.

According to the researchers, if all the participants ate less than a half a serving of red meat a day, about 9.3% deaths of the men and 7.6% of the women could have been prevented.

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With walking- every little bit counts

Finding time to exercise regularly can be a challenge in today’s busy and hectic world. But that’s the beauty of walking. You can do it practically anywhere at anytime.

Once you start walking your energy level will go up, your stress will go down and you will find that you are looking for “walking opportunities” everywhere.

There are so many ways to increase your steps that the list is endless – things that you can do at work and at home to increase your steps. The best thing is that no major skills are required; just put on your walking shoes, grab your pedometer and GO!

  • Take the long way to the restroom, water cooler or break room.
  • Park your car at the back of the parking lot.
  • Take a walking break at work.
  • Take a lap around the grocery store or mall before shopping.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Make walking fun. Be an active participant in your company’s challenge and rally the troops. A few 10 or 15-minute walks (1,000-1,500 steps) throughout the day can really add up.

And make sure you use your pedometer and upload your steps at least once a week – there is nothing better than hitting your step goals and watching the days on your activity calendar turn green.

Make a commitment today to take advantage of walking opportunities. Remember to grab a buddy – you will both appreciate it.

For more tips check out the “Increase Your Steps” post.

Photo: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

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