A Few Tips To Get You Ready To Bike Commute

More than seven percent of all Portland commuters choose to get to work by bike. Walker Tracker’s employees proudly contribute towards the 17,000 Portlanders out pedaling their commute. When you hop on your bike you’re getting a healthy workout; you also skip the traffic jams, feel the breeze on your face and best of all, no need to look for parking!Walker Tracker Cyclists

We gathered our staff that we suspected as Most likely to bike and asked them to share their tips on cycle-commuting. If you’re just getting started comment below what has worked well for you. The Walker Tracker community will appreciate your advice. For you seasoned two-wheel travelers, share your tips, too–you’re the experts!

 

Michel – Customer Support
I’ve been commuting on a bike for a long time. I can’t remember thinking of another option. I enjoy bike riding, so, a work commute is another excuse to take a ride. My bike ride is about 5 miles – one way. It may seem long at first but once you get going you don’t want to stop.

Tip: Be Safe, Travel on Bike Lanes.
I strap in some ear buds (only one ear bud because two is unsafe) and let Google Maps guide me to my destination. The path it takes me on seems somewhat roundabout – but trust Google! Google optimizes your route and puts you on bike paths and greenways so that you don’t have to deal with car commuters. Eventually, you will memorize the route and won’t have to let Google track your every pedal.

Must-Have Gear: After a Helmet, bike fenders are a must have. They protect you and your bike from all the grime that flings off your tires.

 

Emily – Customer Success
I have been biking to work since I started at Walker Tracker, about 9 months. But I have always enjoyed riding my bike. I like that I am able to admire the beauty of my neighborhood and get my body warmed up at the start of my day. It also helps to clear my head at the end of the day.

Tip: Check Your Tires Regularly
This tip actually comes from my dad, who taught me everything I know about riding a bike. Check your tires at the end of your ride or day for pieces of glass, especially if you have thin tires; you don’t want the glass to wedge its way into the tire and cause a flat.

Must-Have Gear: Bright lights – be seen and safe! I also have an extra light on my backpack.

 

Jill – Marketing
I’ve been bike commuting for about 15 years and ride my bike nearly every day. It all started in college when I realized it took about the same amount of time to get to class on my bike as it did driving my car. But on my bike, I didn’t have to fight for a parking space! I have the same motivation today as I did then. Plus it’s an invigorating way to start and end my day.

Tip: Take 5 Minutes, Register Your Bike
Bike theft is a sad reality of bike commuting. Bike Index is a free registration service that alerts community users if you indicate your bike has been stolen. If a bike shop or law enforcement agency encounters a stolen bike, they use Bike Index to reconnect the bike with its owner. I have many friends who had their bikes returned because they took 5 minutes to register it on Bike Index.

Must-Have Gear: USB rechargeable bike lights are where it’s at! Portland Design Works has some great options.

 

Blanca – Customer Success
Blanca- CyclingMy parents commuted by bike from when I was a small child up until a few years ago so you’d think I would always default to this option – not the case. The Winters here are wet and chilly and I haven’t bought all the gear that would make me comfortable so it isn’t until Spring that I’m back on the bike daily. When the end of Fall runs around I’ll likely alternate with public transit but until then it is glorious to ride to work! Right now I’m on a 15-day streak and feeling pretty great.

Tip: Pick the Best Day and Pace Yourself
Your first commute should be on the most lovely day possible. Check the weather and wear clothing you can layer on/off depending on how warm you get. If you know someone with a car bike rack you could ask for a ride home if one-way felt like enough for day 1. Pick your path and give yourself plenty of time so that you can make an unexpected stop to take in the view.

Must-Have Gear: Confession, I spent many years cycling without wearing a helmet. Now I can’t leave home without it. Riding a bike is both purposeful and fun, make sure to keep it that way by staying safe. Invest in a good helmet. I like the kind with a little visor to keep the sun and sprinkles out of my eyes.

 

We’d love to hear your cycling stories and commuter tips. Please comment below or share this article with your friends and co-workers.

Ride on!

Commute By Bike to Reduce the Risk of Cancer

Cycling to work puts a smile on my face and is a great way to fit cardio into my routine. Now we’re hearing from scientists at the University of Glasgow that bicycling to work daily may greatly reduce the risk of developing cancer and heart disease.

Bike to work

Cycling Commuter Study

In a study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers analyzed data from a group of 250,000 British commuters who cycled at least 30 miles per week. The participants of the study were tracked over 5 years and the results indicated that cancer incidences were reduced by 45%, heart disease by 46%, and death from any cause by an astounding 41%.

Although it is not possible to pin down a clear cause and effect through this study, the positive results were still there after removing variables such as smoking, gender, age, weight and income. The resulting evidence concludes that a daily bike ride makes a strong positive impact on your health.

This study’s results tell us that adding more physical activity into our daily routines can improve our quality and duration of life. We don’t need to join a gym or attempt to run a marathon. Anything that gets your heart racing and out of breath can make a difference – so hop on your bike, jump in the pool, go out for a walk or move like lightning as you tidy your home.

Welcome aboard Tiana and Michel

Hiring managers, have you ever ran into that moment where you have two stellar candidates and you just CANNOT make up your mind no matter how many lists you make? What do you do?

HIRE THEM BOTH!

We’re proud to introduce two new members to Walker Tracker’s Customer Success team: Tiana Le and Michel Waissman. Tiana and Michel work with our program members to help them navigate the site, troubleshoot issues and most importantly, they wrap up every ticket with words of encouragement. Not only are there here to support our participants but this dynamic duo have hopped right into making new challenge themes and overhauling our materials to make the self-help articles accessible and even, dare I say? fun!

Let’s hear from them:

Meet Michel

Hello Walker Tracker world!

Michel, Walker Tracker Support SpecialistI enjoy being part of a software company working to increase awareness and participation in human health.  It really makes my day when I am able to help a participant with an issue and they respond with positive feedback about their engagement.  Users have mentioned how much they love the Walker Tracker platform, and not only does that make me happy for our team, it motivates me to stay healthy too!  Personally, I stay active by biking and doing body-weight exercises. So, my favorite feature of Walker Tracker is that I can choose from a large variety of activities, including cycling and body-weight, to convert into steps.  This feature has allowed me to gain insight into my exercise routine and has motivated me to stay on top of it.

When I’m not at Walker Tracker, I spend my time in nature, with music, or learning about software.  I enjoy hiking and learning about the birds, plants, and animals that I come across. Recently, I encountered a pileated woodpecker in Forest Park, Portland.  They are stunning creatures! I have played music my entire life and spend my time listening, learning, and making all sorts of sounds – when in doubt I play the blues.  Find me with headphones on learning about the software that makes the world go ‘round and working to make a better user experience for Walker Tracker customers.

Walk on!

 

Meet Tiana

I love working for Walker Tracker because we are a company that I believe will help strengthen our communities. Health is so important, and sometimes it can be easy to forget about keeping up with health and fitness, especially with a busy work schedule. I think it’s amazing that Walker Tracker is helping companies and teams incorporate health into the community.

I enjoy working in Customer Success, it’s exciting for me to see what users are experiencing and think of ways that I can help them achieve a smooth Walker Tracker experience.

My favorite Walker Tracker feature, other than being able to view other people’s steps, is posting photos! I love seeing the photos that other people in my competitions are posting.

I am very into health and fitness. I strive to eat the cleanest diet possible by using local, organic and non-gmo produce and foods and a heavy reliance on vegetables! I also enjoy going to the gym as often as I can. If I can’t make it to the gym due to a tight schedule, I will go on a quick hike or walk in my neighborhood.

My favorite hobbies include making music, listening to music, creating websites, and researching/watching things that I find interesting. My mind is always looking for new information so I spend a lot of time researching and learning as much as I can when I have free time!

 

We’re so glad to have Michel and Tiana working with us and supporting our members who couldn’t be in better hands.

Now, where to put TWO desks when you only planned on one?

Is your pedometer keeping up with you?

Wireless devices like Fitbit and Garmin claim to accurately measure a person’s activity levels throughout the day. As the devices continue to gain popularity, researchers at University of Florida’s Department of Health Policy and Outcomes have tested various devices and their accuracy across age groups.

Their findings? The devices aren’t as accurate as they claim to be. Here’s the nut:

“Over the past 5 years, wearable devices, smartphones, and apps have become more ubiquitous, and have become widely recommended tools of behavioral change for weight loss by the general press, the health and fitness industry, and health care providers. In this study, we evaluated the accuracy of a selection of recently available wearable wrist-worn devices and smartphones with respect to step counting, as well as the impact of several variables of interest, most notably age.

BMI, height, weight, and dominant hand do not seem to impact the accuracy of step count. However, age does affect accuracy, and some devices tend to underestimate the number of steps walked by older users of wearable devices. This finding may be a minor issue for people trying to lose weight by adhering to a 10,000-step walking program, as they may walk more than planned. However, older and/or slower participants focusing on increasing physical activity may be negatively affected, and may struggle mentally if they fall short of 10,000 steps.”

Read the full study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information here.

How does this apply to you, and to your Walker Tracker walking program? The most important thing to remember, perhaps, is that raising your activity level is relative, not absolute. With current technology, your device can’t always accurately tell you exactly how many steps you’ve taken, or how far you’ve traveled throughout the day. But it can give you a baseline average. It’s up to you to raise that average slowly over time. 5,000 steps on your Garmin might be 7,000 steps on my FitBit. The most important thing is to keep raising that average, a little every day.

 

 

Linked Study: Mobile Device Accuracy for Step Counting Across Age Groups
Copyright ©François Modave, Yi Guo, Jiang Bian, Matthew J Gurka, Alice Parish, Megan D Smith, Alexandra M Lee, Thomas W Buford. Originally published in JMIR Mhealth and Uhealth (http://mhealth.jmir.org), 28.06.2017.

Ready to add biking to your wellness repertoire? Meet Ride Report

Imagine how happy we were when we found our office neighbors shared much of our mission. They’re getting more people on bikes and using the data to improve bike routes and traffic safety. Byproduct? Healthy employees. That’s why we’re pleased to introduce them to you:

Ready to add biking to your wellness repertoire? Meet Ride Report

Like walking, biking is a fun mode of transportation and a great addition to any wellness, fitness, and team building program. However, most bike encouragement initiatives require a lot of administrative effort from participants — most people don’t want to log their trips on a website or remember to push start/stop on a tracking app.  Ride Report’s free app, removes this burden on participants while providing a fun platform that includes stats, badges, and rewards for riding a bike. The app runs in the background and automatically senses when a person starts and ends a cycling trip, so all a participant needs to do is ride in order to have his/her trip count.

Ride Report can provide custom in-app rewards, incentives, and tracking of people participating in transportation demand management and wellness programs, including detailed analytics on routes taken and barriers to cycling. Cities use the aggregated data collected through the app to inform planning and implementation decisions to make biking safer and more comfortable. Ride Report users have logged more than 500,000 bike trips for more than 2,000,000 miles, and the app has been used as part of encouragement and tracking campaigns in more than 200 cities worldwide, from Portland, Oregon to Turino, Italy. Their office is also down the hall from Walker Tracker HQ — small (walkable/bikeable) world!

For more information, visit ridereportapp.com or send an email to info@ridereportapp.com

Happy Thanksgiving from Walker Tracker

we challenge you to walk 10,000 steps on Nov. 24th

We’re growing! Introducing: Abby, Torrence and Stephanie

We have an awesome staff at Walker Tracker and are proud and excited to introduce you to our newest team members.

Abby (Customer Support Specialist)

I hail from small towns in Upstate NY (no where near the city).  I lived in Upstate NY for most of my life, and I got sick of this:image

So I moved far away from the snow.

I graduated with my Master’s degree in Art Therapy.  Anyone who’s ever gone through school knows that it can be stressful; so I didn’t have the best eating, sleeping, or in-general living habits during that time!  I longed for a time when I could exercise and enjoy nature again.

Since moving to Portland 2 years ago, I’ve been able to walk around and explore new areas locally.  Walking and casual bike riding are my favorite forms of exercise, but I’m interested in archery and martial arts as well. I use Apple Health with the Walker Tracker app for iOS to track my personal steps. Steps are automatically transferred into my iOS app in real time, so I always know where I stand in a competition.

Abby
I’m back in school studying computer programming.  Joining the Help Desk team at Walker Tracker has been a great mix of my strong background in human services, my past time (walking), and my future in IT.  You might see some comics and doodles from me from time to time in the blog or newsletter, as I can’t completely neglect my artistic side!  It is my pleasure to meet and work with all of the Walker Tracker community.

~Abby


Torrence (Junior Programmer)

slack-for-ios-upload-1

I grew up in rural southern Oregon in a town called Lakeview and I’ve lived in central Oregon as well. I had a very outdoors-oriented upbringing and I spent many weekends of my childhood camping with my dad.

These days, I enjoy cycling, hiking, and I’m trying to assemble enough gear to start backpacking. I’d really like to hike a stretch of the PCT at some point in the next few years. I try to stay active on a daily basis by bike commuting, taking stairs instead of the elevator, and walking to the grocery store. I’ve been a vegetarian for 15 years and I try to be mindful of what I consume because I think it contributes to my overall wellness.

I’m excited to flex my coding skills with Walker Tracker and contribute to an awesome company.

Torrence uses a Misfit Shine 2:

The misfit is lightweight and flexible. I like that I can wear it on my wrist or clip it on my shoe, which produces more accurate results when cycling. Also, their support team is extremely responsive.


Stephanie (Business Development Manager)timbers-game

        Everywhere I have lived has been so beautiful it has encouraged me to get out and explore. Hiking the mountains in Idaho, walking the beaches at the coast, and hiking/walking all around Corvallis, Oregon.

For the past 4+ years, I have been working with women battling breast cancer, which really gave me the passion for being active and eating well. While it certainly doesn’t prevent it, living an active healthy lifestyle is shown to greatly reduce your risk of cancer. I’m excited to bring this passion to Walker Tracker and the companies we work with.

I love walking. My favorite thing about living in the city has been being able to walk to work and most places I need to go. I am also very into weight training. I enjoy seeing how far I can push my body and increasing my strength. I’ve been wearing the Fitbit

I am a HUGE Timbers fan, and I am so excited to live in the city, and cheer them on from their hometown!  At one of their games this year I won a jersey signed by the whole team, and, I swear, it made my whole month!

Stephanie wears a Fitbit Blaze and likes that her weight and sleep are automatically transferred to Walker Tracker’s app and website, earning her points in the competition. 

Along with Stephanie came Zoey, another addition to the Woofer Tracker family:steph-and-zoey-hiking

My dog is my little fur baby! I rescued her eight and a half ears ago when I was working at an animal shelter. I loved the idea of rescuing a pit bull mix and making her an ambassador for the breed. She has visited nursing homes, schools, and countless other community events. She is my best friend, and constantly by my side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Walker Tracker: devices we sync with

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!

Taking a break is not giving up – it gives back!

We all need to rest at some point. Taking a break from your work, walking competition or committed hobby will help you feel more relaxed, refreshed and healthy. An Oxford Economics (2014) study showed that only 58% of U.S. employees take full advantage of the paid time off they earn during the year. So if you’re in the other 42%, it is time for some fun.

Too much work and not enough play can result in chronic stress. Ongoing stress can negatively impact your thinking, attitudes, health, and relationships. Sometimes it can be challenging to get away, yet a break has tremendous value. You’ll improve our health, sleep better, focus on your creative ideas and be more engaged when you get back to work. Most importantly, you’ll have time to spend with friends and family, isn’t that what life is about?

Continue reading for some tips on different breaks you can take:

For a vacation – Plan ahead for even less stress. Adding your away time to a shared work calendar lets others prepare for your absence and step in for you on the must-do tasks. You don’t have to drive or fly hundreds of miles to take your break; it can be as simple as taking a dog for a walk, meditating, or taking a few days off to just relax at home.

For your walking challenges – Short 6-8 week challenges are ideal. Then let participants take a break for a few weeks. They deserve the rest and you can expect them to return ready for the next challenge. Bonus: you also get extra time to promote your next event!

For your committed hobby – My partner is a musician and has several band ‘projects’. Coordinating groups of people, playing shows and pressure to come up with new material can be stressful.  Take a break from your hobby for a week or two and try something new. You’ll return to your passion with gusto, because you missed it!

Why do we feel so strongly about you taking a break? A 2011 Intuit study reports that women who don’t take vacations are more likely to suffer from heart disease than women who take a couple vacations a year. The same study shows that men who vacation are 32% less likely to die of a heart attack. The cherry on top? Vacationers report that they experience an 82% increase in job performance post-trip!

So, take a break!