Get Active – in your community!

If you are looking to get in some steps and activity while also being an all around great civic asset to your community, consider volunteering with a local organization! From dog walking at your local Humane Society to being a nature guide at a local park, even planting or gardening for your local parks and recreation district there are a number of ways to get involved.

Check out http://www.volunteermatch.org/ and enter in what you care about, such as walking, animals, community or environment. There is something for everyone. Why not make your community better while also improving yourself? Everyone wins!

Share with us where you like to volunteer in your community below.

Every Step Counts – Hadassah’s Walking Program

by Jack Rubinger

Randy and Brooke are quite an item. The 63-year-old suburban Chicago real estate attorney and her miniature poodle walk outside pretty much every day as long as the weather cooperates.

In addition to being an active Hadassah leader in the Midwest, Randy is an avid walker who became even more keen on walking through Every Step Counts: Hadassah’s Walking Program.

“This is my quiet thinking time, relaxing away from work when Brooke and I see what’s blooming at different times of the year,” she said. “I’m on the computer and email all day long so I leave my phone home when we walk.”

When Hadassah announced Every Step Counts, it was an easy decision to sign up and purchase a Fitbit to help track steps. Walker Tracker, the company that helped custom design the program with Hadassah, also integrated a virtual map feature to help participants see their progress.

“I loved the maps going through Asia and Middle East,” she said. “This is a very well thought-out program. Very impressive. It worked seamlessly. I could see companies encouraging people in office settings to get moving.”

Randy was amazed at how many steps per day she managed and quickly moved *from doing 2,000 steps per day to 12,000 steps per day.

“Pretty soon I was averaging 24,000 steps a day,” she said.

Randy set her own personal challenges and added both morning and early evening walks to her schedule.

The best thing about Every Step Counts?

“It made it even more fun to go walking every day,” she said.

That old cliche about taking things ‘one step at a time’ was shattered when more than 1,000 members of the Hadassah family walked 720 million steps (360,000 miles) on a virtual pilgrimage from New York to the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem — spanning a six-month period from April to September 2015. That’s 14 times around the earth.

Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. (HWZOA), founded in 1912, is committed to Jewish continuity and building a better world through medicine and healthcare, advocacy, and communities of women. The challenge timeframe was significant because it began right before Passover (on April 1) and ended with Sukkot (September 27), two of Judaism’s pilgrimage holidays.

Hadassah members nationwide geared up for the journey, each establishing a unique rhythm, schedule, route and team for companionship and conversation.

Pre-launch communications over a two-month period were driven by Hadassah’s 900 chapters, Facebook and the Hadassah website.

Hadassah leaders selected Walker Tracker from Portland, Oregon to develop a software platform and provide project management and technology expertise, creating a wellness program that wove in Jewish history, education and other themes for the Zionist organization.

Walking bridges technology, people, culture and change. Just like the great pilgrimages of history — seeking answers to questions, looking for personal freedom, united in a cause — the Hadassah community came together and grew even closer through social networking, sharing of weekly personalized walking stats, and comparisons of the progress for each region. The challenge was open to anyone, including Hadassah members and staff, associates, eMembers, and nonmembers.ESC Judi and Art

Technology links friends, family and fitness
Participants followed the progress of their personal icon as it advanced along the map during the six-month challenge, next to all their friends. Pop-up educational milestones told participants where they were. “You’re in Baltimore, home of Henrietta Szold (the founder of Hadassah)!” “You’re now in Siberia! Here are tips for walking in harsh weather.”

Walker Tracker’s program can be accessed via any modern internet browser or from mobile devices and tablets. Most of the popular devices are supported, offering automatic updates of step data including: Apple Health, Moves, FitBit, Jawbone, BodyMedia, Fitlinxx Pebble, Withings, and Misfit.

People exercise in many ways, so the Walker Tracker platform allows participants to “Convert an Activity” by selecting their activity and entering the time spent. Yoga, wheelchair use, and swimming are a sample of the 40+ activities that can be converted into steps.

Walker Tracker and Hadassah created three different challenge levels — 3,000, 8,000 and 12,000 steps/day to accommodate people at different fitness levels. Overall, participants averaged 7,708 steps per day – equivalent to almost four miles. The field ranged from young to old, with 80% of the walkers between 45 and 75 years old.

Cathy Olswing: Desert Walker
Giant saguaro cacti dot Tucson’s Sabino Canyon— some of them more than 100 years old. These symbols of the Southwest grow slowly because there isn’t very much water in the desert. So, when you see the enormous ones, you can only imagine what they’ve been through to survive.

Fifty-eight-year-old Cathy Olswing walks among these desert survivors in the early morning before the scorching heat and sun make it almost unbearable to be outside.

Her dedication to walking motivates her to reach the upper portions of the canyon and she generally completes the 7.4 mile round-trip in just over two hours. And while she’s not striving for a land speed world record, she’s pretty hooked on walking and has lost a lot of weight over the years by walking with friends in the canyon.

As a regional president of Hadassah, Olswing is in a position to positively influence chapter members from all over the western United States. So, when Hadassah announced it was launching its Every Step Counts program, Olswing jumped on board. She quickly became a cheerleader, encouraging women from Montana to El Paso to get moving and to think about the many milestones and events that are a part of the Jewish tradition of survival and thriving through adversity.

The cultural/historical elements of Every Step Counts were co-designed by Hadassah leaders and Portland’s Walker Tracker.

“My friend Jill and I could see where each of us were on the map en route to Jerusalem, our final destination. It was really fun to jump on the message board and cheer folks who were swimming across an Alaska strait,” said Cathy. “Every Step Counts created an incentive to carve out the time to take a walk and see where we are going to go.”

“I’m motivated to keep going and keep the weight off even when I don’t always feel like doing it every day,” said Cathy. “I was walking six days a week and going to the gym, and doing circuit training and we could weave that into the Walker Tracker program, too.”

Fundraising
Opportunities to fundraise were incorporated to support heart health programming to many Hadassah communities across the country. In this case, all funds raised go to the US Initiative called Every Beat Counts: Hadassah’s Heart Health Program™. This support enables Hadassah to expand its educational and advocacy programs across the country. The goal? To enlighten and empower women to improve their heart health.

Gauging Success
Participants wrote hundreds of messages to each other on challenge pages, congratulating complete strangers, and asking, “Who else is from Buffalo?” The online social interactions through the Walker Tracker portal contributed greatly to the program’s success.

Program Statistics:

– 65% of walkers often walked by themselves, but connected with others online
– 31% walked with someone in their households
– 63% said saw real positive change in lives because of the program
– 91% would do again
– The top five walkers logged over 2,000 miles each

Participants walked when time allowed — to work, after work, on the weekends, during the daytime. Some set schedules. Others kept it loose. Deep friendships were developed. The power of the community helped one woman lose 27 pounds, while another dropped 30 points in cholesterol. Others spoke of dramatic improvements in blood sugar. Instead of joining a gym, another chose this program and became a monthly donor to Hadassah instead.

Both non-competitive and non-judgmental, the program has succeeded in creating communities and conversations, fostering ongoing discussions about how we feel, who we’ve met, how we’ve changed.

Because there was such an outpouring of enthusiasm, Hadassah has signed on with Walker Tracker to do another worldwide virtual pilgrimage again in 2016.

Walker Tracker creates and administers private, activity-based wellness portals for organizations worldwide. Walker Tracker is now a leader in the wellness field, with clients that include Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, the US Military, non-profit organizations, colleges and universities, K-12 schools, and even entire communities. For more information, visit www.walkertracker.com or email info@walkertracker.com.

Hadassah is the largest Jewish women’s organization in the United States. With 330,000 members, associates and supporters Hadassah brings Jewish women together to effect change and advocate on critical issues such as medical care and research, women’s empowerment, and the security of Israel. Through the Hadassah Medical Organization’s two hospitals, the world-renowned trauma center and the leading research facility in Jerusalem, Hadassah supports the delivery of exemplary patient care to over a million people every year. HMO serves without regard to race, religion or nationality and earned a Nobel Peace Prize Nomination in 2005 for building “bridges to peace” through equality in medical treatment. For more information, visit www.hadassah.org.

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Sitting far better for you than standing, newest research proves

As reported in the New York Times, ‘Exercise Now Thought to Increase Mortality Rate‘, recent studies have shown that sitting — once thought to be considered ‘the new smoking’ — has now been proven to increase longevity.

For this reason, Walker Tracker is rebranding as Sit LongerTM. We have a new line of sedentary trackers for sale as well, which log your hours of sloth and immobility, and reward you with points for days in which you have hardly moved at all.

sit-longer

Walker Tracker: devices we sync with

Devices and Apps galore! Link and send data to Walker Tracker directly

Walker Tracker pairs with the all major brands of wireless devices and apps to make it easy to transfer your data. Clip on your pedometer or band or drop your phone in your  pocket and get movin’!

Wireless wearable Devices:

  • Fitbit
  • Garmin
  • Misfit
  • Jawbone
  • Withings
  • Striiv

 

Direct integration within the Walker Tracker App:

 

Looking for alternatives on your Smartphone? You don’t need a device, your phone will do the tracking. Try one of the following:

  • Moves-app for Android or iOS (in app tracking)
  • Withings HealthMate for Android or iOS (in app tracking)
  • Fitbit for Android, iOS or Windows (in app tracking)
  • Argus by Azumio for Android or iOS (in app tracking)

 

Check your program’s Help page for instructions on pairing your device or app. Program administrators can contact their account manager to turn on the ability to pair these devices directly with Walker Tracker.

What is your favorite device?  Let us know in the comments below.

Tracking wellness for diversity and inclusion

We’re always interested in how our clients are incorporating Walker Tracker’s wellness software into their company culture. Undertone, a NYC based digital advertising company with global reach has been using the Walker Tracker platform to promote  diversity and inclusion within their company. Vicky Tan, their Total Rewards Manager, explains how Undertone is truly committed to their employees’ health and well-being.

 

 

Undertone, in partnership with LifeLabs and Exubrancy, recently hosted one of Culture Club’s monthly events at our New York headquarters. HR professionals from companies across New York City gathered to discuss this month’s topic: diversity and inclusion within professional organizations.

 

Our group discussion focused on the challenges of promoting diversity, and we had a spirited and educational discussion not only about challenges in general, but also about some of Undertone’s specific challenges when it comes to culture and inclusion. One of our biggest challenges is how to make sure our satellite offices feel equally involved and included in company activities, and this Culture Club event allowed us to share and discuss some of the changes we’ve made lately to improve and measure company diversity.

 

Undertone recently took a step toward improving inclusion across the organization by enlisting Walker Tracker to administer a company-wide “step” challenge. After an intense (but fun) six week challenge, we ended up with over 80 participants on 10 teams internationally, across 7 office locations in New York, Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco, London, Tel Aviv, and Germany. Team names included “Cirque de Sore Legs” and “Scrambled Legs and Achin’.” It was such a huge success for us that we now plan to administer these step challenges across our organization at least twice a year!

 

At Undertone, we’re proud to consistently be recognized as a “best place to work,” and we’re committed to not only getting the job done right but also having fun while doing it. We look forward to continuing our hard work improving diversity and inclusion throughout the coming year, and especially to our next “step” challenge!

Vicky Tan
Undertone | Total Rewards Manager

Tell us how your company uses Walker Tracker, we’d love to hear from you!

New: Wellness Metrics

Introducing Wellness Metrics!

In addition to the activity tracking/photo-uploading/competition goodness that is Walker Tracker already, I’m extremely pleased to say that Walker Tracker now supports six other modes.

  • Nutrition
  • Water intake
  • Mood
  • Sleep (can be synced automatically from a number of providers)
  • Heart rate (resting)
  • Weight (can be synced automatically from a number of providers)

 

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All of these metrics are PRIVATE. They are not shown to your fellow employees, and they are not shown to your employer or program administrator. However, aggregate data (if there are enough people to show it) is shown.

Our Wellness Metrics philosophy

With all of our metrics, we focus on providing best-practices, tips, and educational content. We believe, of course, that tracking one’s data is exceedingly useful, but only within a framework where there’s a very clear understanding of the benefits of doing so, and with clear, science-based studies to back it up. Each metric has a library of wellness content that accompanies it. We approached each of these modes with a certain philosophy that I’d like to talk about.

  • Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 12.38.29 PMNutrition. Tracking one’s calories is painful, difficult, and not particularly effective, in our opinion. For this reason, we created the simplest tracker available. It asks you to rate your daily meals on a scale of one to ten. You already have a sense of how you ate, and how much you ate, and we believe that subjective feeling is more important than an objective, quantitative number. Our job is to allow you to track that ‘feeling’ — and to use the space available to us to provide tips for improvement with leading nutritional research.

 

  • Water. Water tracking is another metric that we feel is over-emphasized. We have a very accurate sensory system installed in our bodies called ‘thirst’. Second: the color of one’s urine is probably the most important indicator of whether we’re drinking enough water. Water intake need varies considerably based on what foods one eats in a day, the temperature, one’s weight and body type, etc. We do allow the logging of water — but up to a certain limit. We do not want to make water-logging a competitive errr water sport.
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    Mood
    . Rate your mood from one to five
    — this is nice from a data point of view. But human moods are wide-ranging and subtle. This is why we allow you to tag your mood as well.

 

  • Weight. Weight-tracking is good! We’re in favor. This can be hooked up to your device’s provider, so it will come over auto-magically. We allow a data point once per day — don’t forget that weight varies all day long, and so we encourage you to look over longer time-periods here. Consequently, if you’re using points, you get points once per week for logging your weight.

 

  • Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 9.12.04 AMHeart. Resting heart rate is what we measure. Close your eyes, think calm, and record your best. We’re tracking the rest trend, here.

 

  • Sleep. This can also be hooked up to your device’s provider, so it will come over auto-magically. We track only the total time per night, not your wakes/sleeps. We believe that knowing how to achieve better sleep is far more useful than knowing *how well* you slept. A subjective measure of sleep trumps, in our opinion, the objective data points.

 

Privacy

At Walker Tracker, we’re very concerned with privacy, and want to be as transparent as possible with where your data goes and who has access to it.

Individual data points from ALL of these Wellness Metrics are absolutely private. Your program administrator doesn’t see them. We don’t see them. It’s for your use only (though you can earn points by logging them). That said: We provide aggregate data for administrators if there’s enough entries to ensure the data is randomized.

Here’s a look at what aggregate data looks like for program administrators:

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 12.47.21 PM

 

We’re very excited about the new Wellness Metrics. Let us know what you think!

Stretch it out

I don’t know about you, but my neck and shoulders are constantly bothering me. We spend a lot of our daily lives looking down. Down at our computers, phones, reading, or just avoiding that awkward eye contact with the stranger on the bus. It is a recipe for neck, back and shoulder pain that is hardly relieved by a massage every once in awhile. Some good ways of helping relieve and avoid building up tension and pain in these areas is stretching. Yes, you have probably heard this before, but take a chance and set a timer on your phone for every hour or make it a point that whenever you get up to go to the restroom you take a chance to stretch. It’s easy, helps reduce stress and will keep your neck, shoulders and back able to hold up that big noggin’ of yours!

Try out the stretches below a couple times a day and feel refreshed, relieved and relaxed:

While sitting in your chair imagine a string running through the top of your head pulling it straight up. Shrug your shoulders up and roll them back so that you are sitting up straight.

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Take your right hand and stick it straight out to your side. Point all your fingers straight out.

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Let your arm fall to about your hip height or whatever point at which you begin to feel a stretch from your neck through your fingers. Keep your gaze forward. Breath in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 4. Do this breathing sequence four times.

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Then look up to the left while doing the 4 count of breaths in and out.

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Look up and to the left and repeat the breathing.

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Look down and to the left, continuing the breathing routine. Repeat on the left side.

If you have a wall available nearby walk up and place a hand on it. Stand about a foot away from the wall.

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Place your hand low on the wall and turn away until you feel a stretch in your chest. Hold for a count of 15 seconds.

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Place your hand a little higher about shoulder height and once again turn away from the wall until you feel a stretch, holding for 15 seconds.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 9.24.36 AM

Finally, place your hand high on the wall and do the same turning until you feel a stretch and holding for 15 seconds. This will stretch your pectorals which get all bunched up while hunching over your computer/smartphone/book etc. 

If you’re especially limber, pat yourself on the back for being kind to your body and stretching.

 

Brief maintenance window planned: 2/6

There will be a brief maintenance window at 1am EST on Saturday, February 6th for an infrastructure upgrade.

For more information and updates, see:

http://status.walkertracker.com/post/138495062003/planned-downtime-saturday-february-6th

Resolutions

It’s that time of year. Many of us resolve to change some lingering bad behavior and set Jan 1 as the date we’ll do it….cold turkey. As of today, 35% of us have already broken the promise we made to ourselves. Of course, this statistic doesn’t even consider the other half, who never bother to try in the first place.

“That which is measured, improves”. Pearson’s Law has always been an unofficial ‘tag line’ of Walker Tracker. While this concept may not work for slumping batters or the national debt, it tends to work pretty well on waistlines.  Try starting this year by choosing a health metric you’d like to improve, then measure and record it daily.

The Walker Tracker journal and custom metrics are great ways to do this, and it can be completely private. Over time, you’ll find that journaling allows you to draw strength from previous successes and learn from the times it was really tough.

 

New: Walker Tracker iOS 2.0!

Today we have a new iOS version available. Hooray!

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Grab your copy now

This new version features a totally re-designed

  • Activity Stats pane
  • Activity Log pane
  • Activity-adding, step journal photo uploading panes.
  • Apple Health connection
  • Competition Chooser

We also rebuilt the app entirely in Apple’s new language, Swift, which we hope will be an excellent platform moving forward. Expect the pace of releases to accelerate.

Let us know what you think — of course we’d really like your positive review. If you have issues, please contact support, we’d love to help.