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!

Our program admins know best – Interview with Health Solutions

Walker Tracker programs are most successful when they are backed by an excellent admin. Our stellar admins are continuously challenging their group and actively communicating to their group engaged. One of these wellness champs is admin Dawn Yengich from Health Solutions, a behavioral health facility. We sent Dawn a few questions and of course she came back with excellent advice on how to start and structure a program, come up with incentives and keep your team moving. Read our interview with Dawn below.

 

WT: Health Solutions (Formerly Spanish Peaks) had its first Challenge with us in early 2015. How did participants respond to the new program and did you find it easy to get started when you first started working with us?

DY: Our staff was VERY excited to begin the competition. We gave them 2 weeks to enroll themselves in the program. At that time we had 50% participation. Blanca (Program Manager) and Chris (Business Development) were my contacts. They made it very easy to work with. They are easy to get a hold of and responded to my emails at all hours of the day.

Beginning the Walker Tracker program changed our office dynamics. With several facilities peppered across the city, many employees had never met. Once they were on a team together, they were emailing each other and some travelled from one facility to the next to walk with their teammates during lunch. Execs were taking their team on walk meetings so they could get their steps in.

 

WT: Why did you decide to start a walking program?

DY: We work for a behavioral health facility. Our clinicians talk to their clients about the importance of a healthy lifestyle. We came to the realization that we needed to lead by example and get ourselves healthy, too!

 

WT: What has been the most difficult part?

DY: The most difficult part was moving from our first competition, where employees got to choose their teams, to randomized teams. People were fit to be tied!! But after the first 2 days, people calmed down and decided they liked it better. People got to meet someone new and lower movement levels were encouraged by higher movement levels to get more steps. It was fantastic!

 

WT: How about the easiest and most fun part?

DY: The easiest part is that if you are wearing a Bluetooth device, you really don’t have to do much to participate. It’s done for you! You can spend your time actually moving instead of sitting at your computer. You can follow the competition on the app on your phone and contribute to the newsfeed and gift points to your friends while you are walking!!

 

WT: You and your participants use a variety of pedometers. Some use wireless devices and some use the manual entry style. How do these work for you?

DY: Of course, I like the easy and low maintenance of the Bluetooth devices. It’s foolproof and accurate. Some use their phones as a pedometer but you can’t take the phone into the shower like a Fitbit or Jawbone bracelet. They’re missing a couple hundred steps in there!!

 

WT: Your ongoing program has had great results. Users are engaged and keep plugging away at the challenge until the end date. What tools do you use to keep participants engaged?

DY: I ask my program manager for suggestions on how to change the competitions. Not only do we use a new map every time, but we randomize our teams, on some competitions we only allow for steps, in others we allow for activities to be included too. Changing the competitions keeps it fresh. I also change the way incentives are given. Some competitions the 1st team to pass a milestone gets a gift, other competitions I have a drawing for a gift from those that reached their goal for a week straight. My program manager is a great consultant to help figure out new ways to layout the program.

 

WT: Any advice you would give to people just starting a walking program?

DY: Do it now. You will reap so many benefits! Not only will your employees health improve; you will create a more cohesive team environment. Your employees will never want to leave when they are given the benefit of a wellness program!

 

WT: Do you have a favorite feature on Walker Tracker or favorite part about working with Walker Tracker? 


DY: I really like the graphs and charts that are available. I can pull statistics at any given time to add to a managerial report and show how much our movement is improving and how many are participating. With the statistics it is easy to justify the cost of the program, which is very minimal considering what you get.

 

WT: You’re running a Tour of Africa challenge right now. What are the benefits of these map competitions? Do your walkers have a favorite so far?

DY: I liked the European Backpack map the best so far. Walker Tracker assigned our teams some very clever names. Some team members decided they would research how to say hello in each of the countries we walked through. Whenever they walked through a new country, the newsfeed would be filled with a foreign language. It was lots of fun!

 

WT: You use a “prize vault” to incentivize walkers. Tell us a little more about this system and what incentives have you found your participants value most?

DY: I’ve added a question at sign up that asks employees what they’d like to see in the prize vault and I pack my treasure chest with items that are requested most. I’ve learned that discount stores like Ross or TJ Maxx have VERY REASONABLE fitness equipment. I am able to stock my vault with items $10 and under. Participants earn an item from the prize vault once they reach a new level. They are emailed a congratulations email with a spreadsheet of items available to choose from. Our employees really like exercise balls, essential oil diffusers, spa eye masks, water bottles, kettle bells, company logo t-shirts, and weighted hula hoops. They also like to choose gift cards. I offer $10 or $15 gift cards to local restaurants and stores: Sports Authority, grocery store, Amazon, Bass Pro Shop, Target, Wal-Mart, etc. It’s just $10 but people get so excited because they know they earned it!

 

 

 

Get Moving at Work – for employees & benefits managers

It is estimated that only one in five Americans achieves a relatively high level of physical activity at work1. Many of us are aware that it would be beneficial to incorporate more fitness into our work day, yet, where to start? A knowledgeable benefits or human resources manager can provide employees with options on how to make room for fitness in their work day.

The good news: Your benefits manager already knows that healthy employees are more productive, miss work less often and are overall happier and healthier people.  This means insurance costs are lowered. How great is that! You’re asking them for advice on something they already want you to do!

Here are some suggestions for both program admins and participants on how to incorporate wellness in the workplace:

Provide places to walk. If there is no place to walk at work it will be hard to encourage employees to do it. Management can be pro-active – build sidewalks and trails or investigate options for nearby sites where employees can walk. If there is really nowhere else to go, get creative – try measuring and marking the distance around the perimeter of a parking lot or set up a treadmill in an empty office space. One of our clients (a large hospital in Washington D.C.) set up a path inside the building using footprint stickers!

Track it. One of our favorite quotes is: “That which is measured, improves” – Pearson’s Law. We’re seeing more and more programs rewarding employees with wireless trackers so they can keep a record of their activities. If your team already has devices, set a goal that participants need to reach in order to be eligible to upgrade their device to something spiffier. If they do not have devices yet, you might want to create a mini challenge – those who complete it will be eligible to receive a new device. Get everyone on board with this one, wireless devices make it easy and fun for your employees to track their progress.

Get Paid to NOT Park it. A little extra cash at the end of the month can be a powerful motivator. Employees can be given the cash equivalent of the cost of parking if they refrain from driving to work. If parking is free at your workplace, an employer could give you extra benefits at work for not using a parking space. The other option is charging a hefty premium for the privilege of parking at work.

Build in “Walking Breaks”. In some workplace settings you’re sticking to a schedule and breaks are assigned. These companies are the perfect place to schedule “walking breaks” into the day. Your schedule may already include a lunch break and a morning and afternoon break, but let’s beef that up. Suggest that your employer schedule an additional 10 or 15 minute break for those who will walk during that time. Sure, a few minutes will be lost, but you will gain a much more attentive and effective employee.  It’s hard for upper management to miss this increase in productivity and quality.

Encourage walking, mass transit and carpools. Ask if your company will give employees a break on your health care premium if you walk to work, use public transportation, or carpool. For the folks who are carpooling, suggest they alternate days walking to one another’s house for the ride.

How’d you like to earn a day off with every 100 miles you log? At some workplaces you already can. Our admins can use the Walker Tracker program statistics to calculate when you deserve PTO or a paid lunch. Studies show that active employees get lots more done even with some extra days off.

Create friendly competitions. There’s no doubt that grouping co-workers into teams and recording steps can really get people involved. Yet, when setting up a competition it is important to be encouraging to everyone. Your ‘fit’ people will exercise with or without the program, focus on creating a competition that challenges them further. Offer a program that encourages and inspires beginners. Our points competitions are a great way to reward diligence and stick-to-it behaviors over high step counts. Want more ideas for competitions? Admins can ask their Walker Tracker program manager for ideas of how to build competitions that are inclusive to all fitness levels.

 

Sources:

1 Church TS, Thomas DM, Tudor-Locke C, Katzmarzyk PT, Earnest CP, Rodarte RQ, et al. (2011) Trends over 5 Decades in U.S. Occupation-Related Physical Activity and Their Associations with Obesity. PLoS ONE 6(5): e19657. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019657

One step ahead of stress – A letter to Walker Tracker

We recently received a letter from a participant that moved us more than words can express. Colleen and her family have been through the toughest of times and we were so happy to hear that her community walking program helped cope with the stress. Not only is walking a great physical exercise but it is also a wonderful social tool (make new friends!) and keeps stress at bay. You can read Colleen’s letter below.


“Your competition played an integral role in assisting me during a very difficult phase of my life. In August 0f 2014 my husband was diagnosed with lung cancer. Chemo & radiation treatments commenced and his health and recovery immediately consumed our lives.

When word spread through-out our neighborhood about my husband’s illness friends and acquaintances immediately offered their support and assistance. One of my neighbors sent me a link to your competition suggesting that a physical outlet may be helpful in dealing with the stress and in keeping my own health in good order.

I immediately seized on the opportunity to join the “DOG MOMS” team and through the support of a team of amazing women I have been able to become physically and emotionally strong enough to cope with the medical challenges that continue to be part of our lives. In fact, as the competition wore on, more and more of our neighbors (now friends) chose to join us during some of our walks and they all have been there to cheer us on.

My husband was accepted in to a 12 month trial drug program at a hospital in South Florida under the guidance of Dr. M and his research staff. Each day that we go for treatment I walk the halls between the Cancer Center and the hospital, take a lap out-side around the hospital and then climb the stairs to the 4TH floor to check on my husband’s progress.

Walking became an integral part of how I coped with his chemo, radiation & infusions and the Walker Tracker portal encouraged me every step of the way. While there are certainly other programs available, none of them combine the same ease of use, straightforward graphical reporting or ability to socially interact.

Over these past four months not only have I made wonderful new friends but even the research assistant in charge of my husband’s charting has chosen to join our “group” of walkers. Around the halls of the hospital and in the various Imaging Centers I am known as “The Walker Lady”. My own personal health has greatly improved and I am thrilled to report that my husband has begun taking a lap around the block (neighbors have chairs strategically placed should he need to rest).

I know that there must be many more stories such as mine where this portal has enabled a participant to make a significant change in their life and I am hoping that our program will reconsider their decision to close the website.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter and for any assistance that you can provide.”

– Colleen


Thank you for sharing your story Colleen. We’re always eager to hear from our fellow walkers.

Admin of the Month: PrairieLand Partners, Inc.

Jeanine from PrairieLand Partners, Inc. is one of our stellar program administrators. We’re always eager to read the next E-mail to her walkers, which include great tips, fun photos, program statistics as well as a personal touch. Her competitions have great participation results too, so we asked her if she would share her experience as program admin. Read on for Jeanine’s account on being a program admin, how to motivate walkers and ideas for incentives:

“I started doing the Walker Tracker competitions in March of 2011.  I think that one of the most important administrative duties to facilitate the Walker Tracker program is to stay engaged with the competition, with the competitors and offering words of encouragement as well as offering suggestions for additional health benefits.  And yes, the Administrator has to participate by walking, making comments, giving away points and posting pictures.

One thing that I learned early on was that if you solely offer awards to the employees that have the most steps or second most steps, or those that are determined to be the best in the competition, people will drop out fast.  They think that they will never be able to “win” or get ahead so why do it at all.  I now do random drawings every week.  This allows everyone a chance to feel like they are participating and being rewarded for that participation.  There are different criteria for the random drawings….must be ahead of the pacer…top ten/bottom ten…random numbers.  The prizes do not have to be great – we give out gift cards ($10 to Subway or a local grocery store), reflective snap bracelets, small coolers and cash ($10 – $20).  We do give out a grand prize and a second and third place prize.

This year, we are tying the Walker Tracker program into our overall Wellness Program.  Participants earn points towards our health insurance in order to receive reduced rates.  Each of the Walker Tracker challenges they participate in have to be 8 weeks in length.  I do short, what I call sprints between the main challenges.

I try and keep my emails short and full of interesting facts, recipes, thoughts, tips, images etc.  It is almost like my personal blog!  I have fun with it, but as with anything that you want to be worthwhile, it does require some planning and time.

Our biometric screenings we do in the fall have shown that any exercise program and attention to wellness have aided in reducing our insurance rates this past year.  We are focused on continuing that trend and will continue utilizing the Walker Tracker program”.

Thanks Jeanine, you’re a star admin!

Are you an admin? Want to share your story, planning or tips? contact us at accounts@walkertracker.com or comment below.