Walker Tracker On The Road: A Wellness Fair

What’s it take to engage employees in wellness events?

Working with hundreds of clients in my 5+ years at Walker Tracker I’ve learned that a few small things bring simple joy and excitement to participants:

Acknowledgment – announcing your participants’ successes is huge! Intrinsic motivation is fabulous, but external reinforcement seals the deal.

Prizes – we’ve seen clients give away everything from socks to a car! It doesn’t have to be a lot, just a token of their hard work and efforts. Think about a convention – what draws people to the booths? Most of the time it’s the cool giveaways!

Fun – a fun and engaging event will be attended year after year. Perhaps there’s a scavenger hunt at the Wellness Fair or a local band/comedian there to entertain.

Of course, these three items look very different for unique organizations; consider your company culture and employee needs and wants before bringing anything to the table (or Fair!).

We jump at the chance to meet our clients in person, to learn from their experience and share knowledge from program to program. Last month we had the pleasure of attending one of our clients’ Wellness Fairs. I asked Chris from our Business Development team for some insight into the experience, read on for details.

 

Taylor: What did you learn from the attendants?

Chris: Wellness is important to the City. They hold multiple challenges per year for their activity program, they have bikes at their buildings (provided by the City) so employees can easily commute places; and the city also offers it’s employees a reimbursement on memberships at a gym that’s right next door to their main offices. The City program organizers (who are also employees) told me this year they’re offering employees a contribution towards the purchase of any activity tracker (that integrates with Walker Tracker) of their choosing for the program. These are not things that are always offered by employers. It’s great to be a part of an all-encompassing Wellness Program that is so robust!

 

Taylor: Did you get to hear any cool stories or anecdotes from participants of the program?

Chris: One employee I spoke with had recently moved from California and was in a dryer/hotter climate where she lived. There also weren’t as many healthy food options in terms of groceries or restaurants. When she moved to the Portland area she was amazed with how green and accessible it is here, and loved how many good food choices there are. She said the program fits the City’s culture great and is excited to compete in it for the first time in the upcoming challenge.  I also got to meet and talk with the Mayor for a few minutes, and that was pretty cool as well.

Chris Pulley with the Mayor!

Chris Pulley with the Mayor!

Taylor: If you could give one piece of advice to people starting a new fitness/wellness program (whether walking, yoga, nutrition, water, stress, etc.) what would it be?

Chris: Set some type of goal(s) and strive towards that goal. Once it’s set, track and review the progress towards the goal consistently. At Walker Tracker, we believe in Pearson’s Law, ‘that which is measured, improves’. I think this belief is vital towards growth on all levels.

 

What has been successful at your events?  We’d love to hear from you!

Make it a Walking Meeting

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

With work increasingly keeping us seated, it can be hard to meet fitness goals. A new study from the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami in Florida, published in Preventing Chronic Disease, a journal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suggests that by moving one meeting a week to a Walking Meeting, physical activity for office workers can increase by 10 minutes.

As we’ve all observed, those minutes can add up quickly throughout the day to meet your fitness goal. Want to plan a Walking Meeting? Follow these steps:

In the new study, researchers explored the effectiveness of a simple, seven-point Walking Meeting (WaM) protocol, summarized as follows:

Set a time and place to meet before the WaM
  • Prepare an agenda and bring it with you
  • To make the walk more comfortable, bring items such as water, sunscreen, sunglasses, and wear comfortable shoes
  • Assign roles: for example, one person keeps an eye on time, another takes notes, another leads walk route
  • Follow the prescribed walk route
  • Walk for a minimum of 30 minutes
  • After the WaM, sit to wrap up meeting and do any final tasks such as paperwork that cannot be done while walking.
New environments, new ways of communication, fresh air and sunshine can invigorate and lead creativity to work.
Source: Medical News Today

It’s Too Hot!

With a record heatwave scorching the Southwest United States, we’re reminded of how it can be difficult to maintain fitness commitments in extreme weather. Finding ways to keep moving in excessive heat can be challenging. As temperatures in the southwestern are reaching 100 degrees and above, even brief walks outdoors can be too much (120 degrees! Yikes!).

When your city is under a heat advisory, remember to drink plenty of water. If the temperatures are above 100 degrees, drink four cups of water per hour. If you stop sweating get to a shady place or indoors as quickly as possible as this is a sign of heat exhaustion. Here are more tips from the Red Cross for staying safe in extreme weather.

Walking early in the morning, or during the cooler evening, swimming (which packs a whopping 174 steps per minute even at a leisurely pace), or finding a cool place to walk such as an indoor mall, are great ways to stay active even in extreme weather.

How do you cope with the heat? Do you find your activity level decreases or do you find creative ways to beat the heat?

Really great news for us all here at WT HQ (Coffee thought to protect against cancer)

Yesterday a panel of World Health Organization experts concluded that coffee protects against at least two types of cancer. Hooray!

This adds to the growing number of positive health benefits that coffee provides, such as lower risk for parkinsons, improved heart health, and lower risk of diabetes.

That said: Pesticides have been shown to cause cancer, and so make sure you’re buying organic coffee (or even better, Fair Trade Certified coffee to make sure farmers are paid properly)

If there is anything that coffee can’t do, I don’t want to know about it.

 

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
  • Microsoft

 

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)
  • MyFitnessPal

 

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)

 

  • Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 11.12.46 AM

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.
  • Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 9.07.58 AM
    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!