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.

Encouraging Youth to Enter the Workforce at the Portland Opportunity Job Fair

Stephanie Green & Cyan Cooper - Job Fair

Stephanie Green & Cyan Cooper from Walker Tracker’s sales team volunteering at the Portland Youth Job Fair

On April 13th Cyan Cooper and I represented Walker Tracker by volunteering at the Portland Opportunity Youth Job Fair.

 

What made us go?

Walker Tracker is proud to be a member of Business for a Better Portland, and they reached out to all their members asking for volunteers for this event, as they were helping to sponsor and organize the event. We decided to help by volunteering for the morning.

 

Youth Job FairHow was the experience?

It was great! We both had a blast interacting with young people looking to enter the workforce. I think it was great we sent two members of our sales team, because our strength is talking to people! We volunteered to be greeters, and had a lot of fun with it. Many of the youth there walked in unsure and anxious. It was really rewarding to walk up to them and start a conversation to help them feel more confident in the experience. We would explain how it worked, explain where to find resources, and even introduce them to the first company they wanted to talk to.

 

What was the result?

The event was a great success, and we hope it becomes an annual occurrence in Portland. The volunteer coordinator from Worksystems shared the event results below and you can view more details and pictures at the Gateway to College National Network Facebook page

  • Of the approximately 1,200 who attended, 209 were interviewed on the spot and 103 were extended offers.
  • Those youth who didn’t immediately find employment will be reached out to by our Connect2Careers staff to invite them to participate in SummerWorks internships, where we anticipate over 1,500 placements this summer.
  • The average salary offered was $14.30/hour.
  • Young adults made over 1,800 serious contacts – this means they took applications, left their contact information for follow-up, or completed applications with our employers.

My First Powerlifting Meet – I Said I Would Now I Have To Do It

Stephanie Green Powerlifter Extraordinaire

Stephanie at the Powerlifting Championships

Why Powerlifting?

I discovered lifting weights four years ago when a good friend of mine invited me to go to the gym with her. Lifting weights was never something I had been exposed to, but I immediately fell in love with it. As someone who struggled with hand-eye coordination (let’s be honest, whole-body coordination) their whole life, organized sports were never my forte. Lifting weights didn’t require me to handle a ball with agility or be able to predict my teammate’s movement, it was all about me and how much could I pick-up, pull, or push. Turns out, that was more than I expected!

 

Cut to Late 2016

The year 2016 ended up being the biggest year of my life. On a personal level, I made changes to where I lived and what I did for work, among myriad other things. When you find yourself in a new city, with a new job, and not knowing anyone, the gym can be a great starting place to meet new people. I found myself at an amazing little gym within walking distance of my new home, (if you’re in Portland it’s  Studio X, and I highly recommend you check it out). There I connected with a trainer who corrected my technique, pushed my limits, and encouraged me to go big. Long story short, when she suggested I sign up for a powerlifting meet, I did exactly that.

 

I said I would, now I have to!

You know how once you say you are going to do something, you have a new found sense of commitment? That was my training for this meet in a nutshell. I said I would, now I needed to perform. So on January 1st, I started training for my first powerlifting competition. Having no idea what to expect or what I was doing, my trainer gave me a program and I found myself in the gym four-to-five days a week for the next 14 weeks. I pushed the limits of what I thought I could do. I sweat. I shed a tear or two. I threw my hands up in victory. I screamed in frustration. There were times my body felt like it got hit by a truck. There were times I felt like I had conquered the world.

 

How did it go?

April 7th was the big day, and I won’t say I wasn’t nervous. Of course, I was! However, despite the nerves, I was also excited. This was it: time to see weeks of training, managing my diet, and pushing my body to its limits pay off. It was just me and the weights, and I was there to pick them up and put them down. On my first lift, I was marked down for form violations (read: apparently when nervous I lift my toes up when I squat), but once I hit my stride I had six perfect lifts and set new personal records in both my bench press and deadlift!

 

What was my take away?

I’m sure some of you are wondering at this point if I “won” or what place I ranked. Powerlifting meets are competitions after all, aren’t they? Yes, they are. But they also are one of the most supportive competitive experiences out there. I came in around the middle of my weight class, and for a first-time competitor that’s pretty good. I also walked away with new friends and a sense of achievement that rivals any other competitive experience I’ve had to date. The women I competed with were all amazing, strong women. Everyone was cheering each other on, and the phrase, “it’s all about competing with yourself and reaching your new personal best” was echoed throughout the day. I also walked away with a sense of personal pride. I set a goal, I worked hard, and I achieved it. That is what not only weightlifting, but any personal fitness journey is all about.

Power socks for powerlifting.

Power socks for powerlifting.

Oh, and I also walked away with a really cool new pair of deadlift socks monogrammed with the initials of my nickname, compliments of the Walker Tracker team. I’m pretty sure they helped push me to that new PR!

 

Have you participated in a new sport recently? Tell us about your experience. What made you decide to try a new sport or activity?

Walker Tracker on the Move – Staff Challenge Recap

Almost a month ago, I posted about our staff challenge and the results are in! Congratulations to Blanca Garcia-Rinder, our V.P. of Customer Success, for winning the Walker Tracker Rise and Grind Challenge! Our runner-ups include yours truly in second place and Kristina Peltier, our Marketing Manager, in third place.

Walker Tracker on the move.It’s always nice to take a moment to highlight the effort that was made as a whole group. During the challenge, we tracked 4,474,307 steps! But more important than the numbers were the beneficial experiences from participating in the challenge.

Taylor Welsh, our President and CEO, shared her experiences during the challenge:

“This challenge was a great motivator to focus on better sleep habits and being consistently active. Coinciding with the Rise and Grind challenge I began working out in the mornings instead of evenings. Man oh man did that make a difference in my energy levels throughout the day and quality of sleep at night.”

It’s experiences like this that demonstrate the power a wellness challenge has on forming healthy habits. The simple act of tracking wellness metrics creates personal awareness (e.g., is that really how little I sleep?). Awareness can motivate you to start making lifestyle changes that will help you reach your personal goals.

Once the goals are set, then motivation is key. Challenges can feel long when the initial excitement wears off, so it can be a ‘challenge’ to stay motivated.

Kristina shared a tip that kept her moving through the challenge:

“Schedule time for yourself.  Every day I would set aside time to go to a workout class or go for a walk. If it was on my calendar I would follow through and do it. This is how I made sure that I had steps or activities to add to my challenge tracking on a regular basis.”

It’s no surprise she was among the top finishers.

What will keep you motivated? It might be extrinsic (a cash prize or gift), or it may be intrinsic (feeling great about yourself for achieving a goal, no matter how small). Figure out what motivates you, then you will rock the challenge!

Back at the office, we’ll reflect on the fun we had during this past challenge for just a bit before we prepare for the next challenge because we walk the walk!

What do you and your friends do to stay motivated in a challenge or active regularly? We’d love to hear how you stay inspired.

Walker Tracker being active.

A few members of Walker Tracker taking a break with an afternoon walk.

Celebrate National Walking Day with Walker Tracker

Walking in the Park

Grab a four-legged friend, and go for a walk to celebrate.

What is National Walking Day?

National Walking Day falls on the first Wednesday of April each year. It was created in 2007 by the American Heart Association (AHA) as part of their efforts to encourage people to live healthier, more active lives. This year, the AHA has designated April “Move More Month” and is kicking it off on–you guessed it–National Walking Day! The goal is to get individuals to commit to at least 30 minutes of walking today and to increase physical activity all month long.


How can you celebrate?

It’s easy, just make sure you get in a 30-minute walk today and find ways to be more active throughout the month of April! Here are some great ideas to get you up and moving:

  • Skip the car and opt to walk, bike, or take public transit to work.
  • Make your meeting a walking meeting and bring your coworkers along for the walk.
  • Turn two 15-minute breaks at work into walking breaks will get you to that 30-minute goal. Or walk on your lunch break!
  • Skip the TV and take the family for an after-dinner walk.
  • Give your dog the extra exercise he craves and take him for a bonus 30-minute walk.
  • Getting your friends together for a walk is a great way to be active and catch up!
  • Take a group fitness class.
  • The weather is getting nice, so head outdoors and take a hike.
  • Indulge your competitive spirit and challenge your friends, family, or coworkers to a step or activity challenge!

Group Walk Outside

How is Walker Tracker celebrating?

As walking enthusiasts, we are excited to celebrate National Walking Day and want YOU to join us! Today our staff will be making a point to get up and get moving, with everyone pledging to get in a 30-minute walk. We will be sharing pictures on our Instagram and Facebook pages using the hashtags #WalkerTracker #ThisIsHowIWalk #WeBeWalkin. Share a picture of you w     alking today with the hashtags #WalkerTracker #ThisIsHowIWalk to be entered in to win some sweet Walker Tracker swag!

Walker Tracker will be celebrating all month long with specials for new programs that sign up in April. Click here for more details.

Happy Walking!

Is Willpower A Myth?

Motivation can be fleeting at times.  Willpower?  Even worse.  The other day this article found it’s way to my inbox. Hardy makes his point, that willpower doesn’t work, quite compelling. “According to psychological research, your willpower is like a muscle. It’s a finite resource that depletes with use.”

Well, about half of you are relieved.  Thank goodness, all these years I’ve been trying this ‘willpower’ thing with very little success.  The other half of you are probably raising an eyebrow: “If I don’t have willpower, then what?”

Actions.  You have your actions and you can create momentum!  Once you set yourself in motion, it’s easier to keep going.  One healthy action can have a cascading effect throughout your day.  If you exercise in the morning, you’ll fuel your body with nourishment rather than reach for sugar filled snacks to give you energy.   When you’re on a healthy path, you want to stay on the path.  This is not new information, most of us learned this in elementary school (recall Newton’s laws of motion?).  The first law basically states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion, unless acted upon by an outside force.  If your sedentary it’s easy to stay sedentary.  If you’re active it’s easier to stay active.  If you’re trying to make the leap from sedentary to active you need that force to jump start your routine. You need to take action.

Mel Robbins (creator of and writer of the book The 5 Second Rule) uses a simple trick to drive behavior change.  It’s so simple you can change your life 5 seconds at a time.  Whatever your goal is (wake up earlier, start an exercise routine, eat healthier, write a book, start a company, train for a sporting event), you’re likely thinking it to death. Maybe you’re frozen in an analytical whirlwind, making a pros and cons list, already thinking of all the ways you could potentially fail. So, you do nothing.  The 5 Second Rule stirs you to action.  Give it a go!  Think of something you’ve been avoiding, don’t particularly want to do, or a habit you’d like to form.  Now, count down from 5 and at 1 get up and do it.  5…4…3…2…1…!

What does this look like in action?

Say, you have a hard time getting to the gym.  The whole event seems overwhelming.  Try breaking it out one step at a time.  Just drive to the gym.  That’s all you have to do – drive there and park.  Once you get there, just do 5 minutes of cardio to get warm.  Just 5 minutes – do it, go, before you have time to think yourself out of it.  OK – now you’re in the gym and you’re moving.  The likelihood of your leaving after 5 minutes is pretty low.  Generally after 5 minutes you’re starting to get into your groove.

No?  That’s fine. Just do 5 more minutes.

Still no?  Maybe today is not your day – if you went to the gym and did 10 minutes of exercise that is better than nothing and it’s your first step – propelling you into the habit.

In Jocko Willink’s book Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual, he coaches on the value of discipline.  You can set yourself free from these ‘mind traps’ through habits and structure.   It’s useful to take notice that we didn’t get here overnight – our lives are a series of tiny decisions that, each moment, formulate who we become.  If we’re not careful it’s pretty easy to fall into a downward spiral of bad habits, unhealthy actions and negative self talk.

“We are defeated one tiny, seemingly insignificant surrender at a time that chips away at who we should really be. It isn’t that you wake up one day and decide that’s it: I am going to be weak. No. It is a slow incremental process. It chips away at our will-it chips away at our discipline.”

In his episode on the Tim Ferriss podcast he disagrees with the ‘willpower is a finite resource’ theory – but offers some great advice on how to get started.  I loved his answers to these two very simply questions, both of which torture many of us in the contemplation stage.

“where do I start?”

HERE.

“when should I start?”

NOW.

If you need a call to action, here it is: I challenge you!  Whether it’s trying the 5 Second Rule, calling on self discipline, or instilling some habits that propel you towards your goal – get that momentum going!

Here. Now.

What goal are you setting for yourself? How will you set yourself in motion? We’d love to hear from you!

We Walk The Walk! – Walker Tracker’s Latest Staff Challenge

Last week, with the streets covered with snow, I stepped outside decked out in layers and snow gear ready to trek through the snow. Why didn’t I stay inside and hide from the cold? Well, a challenge is underway and there are steps to be taken!

Walk for fun and health

Here at Walker Tracker, we actually do walk the walk. Our staff enjoys competing against each other in our own activity challenges. Our quarterly challenge is going on right now: The Walker Tracker Rise and Grind Challenge. The challenge is an example of our custom points challenges. Each day, competitors can earn points by meeting the daily step goal, logging sleep hours, posting photos, and answering questions throughout the challenge.

So, why does this challenge focus on sleep? “We’ve found that an active lifestyle requires consistent and sufficient sleep, so in addition to encouraging everyone to meet their daily step goals we also wanted them cognizant of how much sleep they’re getting,” says our Account Executive Cyan Cooper, who is administering the challenge. He also highlights that “people tend to wear sleep deprivation as a badge of honor, but losing sleep robs you of your energy, diminishes just about every measurable health metric, and significantly increases your chances of Alzheimer’s.” Check out previous blogs with more info on sleep and tips on how to get more sleep.

The challenge is not just for bragging rights, there are real stakes! Top steppers receive coffee gift cards, to help keep us focused and hard at work I’d imagine. But, the simple act of recognition, whether it be a certificate at an awards ceremony or a gift card or other prize, can be very motivating.

A common question I get is what kinds of incentives should I provide challenge winners? It really depends on the organization’s population and culture. It’s always a good idea to reward healthy behaviors with prizes that promote healthy habits. A few ideas include:

• A gift card to by fresh produce, sporting goods, massage, or music
• An activity tracking device
• A personal training session

To be honest, I’m not the most competitive person, but I’m looking forward to having fun and feeling good about my activity level during this challenge. Who will emerge victorious? Who will be left to sweep up the dust (or snow?)? Stay tuned or follow us on social media at Facebook or Twitter to hear how it turns out.

Walk and Talk: Meet Bob – Living Proof Walking Is Great Exercise

I’d like to introduce you to Bob. Bob is technically 85 but insists he feels 35. Bob is inspiring and determined. Bob has walked every day since he started with Walker Tracker back on June 12, 2006. Throughout the past 11 ½ years, he has averaged just shy of 8,000 steps a day (7,728 to be exact)! Bob is a big fan of Walker Tracker and we are big fans of him! Recently, I got the chance to meet Bob in person and go on a walk with him through his hometown’s huge flea market that happens every month in Canton, TX.

As we walked and weaved through the stands and vendors I learned that Bob hasn’t always been so healthy and active. In fact, he says he weighs less at 85 than he did in the 6th grade. Despite working in the steel industry and military he remained a big guy for the majority of his life. His blood pressure was 204/105 at one point and he wasn’t feeling like his best self. It wasn’t until one of his highly active stepsons was nearly killed in a cycling accident in 2004 that he had the epiphany that he needed to get moving. He said to himself, “Where will I be in five years if I keep eating and drinking the way I am? I’ll be dead. I said one of my sayings, ‘you can’t do everything but you can do something!’ and I asked myself, what can I do? Well, I can walk!”. Bob hopped online (yes, he is by far the most technically savvy 80 something year old I have ever met) and searched for websites where you can track steps and that’s where Walker Tracker came in.

He happened upon Walker Tracker in its infancy and has praised the site and even promoted it on his own blog – beefitbob.com (did I mention he’s super technically savvy?!).

You can't do everything but you can do something. What can I do? I can walk!Since he began his journey he’s lost over 100 pounds and his blood pressure is down in the 90’s/50’s. He started doing 5K’s, 10K’s and even went to the state capital and had his hometown of Canton, TX declared the ”Walking Capital of Texas”. He’s become a motivational speaker and advocate for health and wellness in his area. He walks the walk and talks the talk. In fact, he even walked to the market to meet up with me! The biggest take away from our time together was “start small”. You may not be able to do everything but you can do something. So figure out what that something is. Is it drinking more water and less soda? Is it replacing chips with an apple for a snack? Is it registering an account at community.walkertracker.com so you can track your steps just like Bob? Start small and once you’ve made that action a habit, figure out your next something.

Try to dampen that ever-impulsive need for instant gratification as much as you can. So often if we do not see instant results we abandon what we were doing. Much of the things that are “worth it” take time and hard work. As Bob might say, the path to health and wellness is a marathon. You’ve got to be in it for the long haul and it takes training and discipline but once you’re there in the thick of it, and you find your cadence and what works for you it gets easier and enjoyable. It’s never too late to start! Take it from a guy who started in his 70’s and is still going strong almost 12 years later! Thanks for walking with us Bob and sharing your story!

Make sure to visit Bob’s website beefitbob.com to find out what WAFOWASL means and join Walker Tracker at community.walkertracker.com to join Bob and many others in a fun place where your success can be celebrated and quantified!

Walker Tracker’s Favorite Podcasts

10 Podcasts Walker Tracker is Addicted To

At Walker Tracker we’re all about motivation to stay active and live a healthy lifestyle. When it comes to working out sometimes that involves listening to music to get just the push you need to get up and get moving. But for me, music isn’t always my best motivation. I often find I’m listening to my favorite podcasts during my workout or when I’m sitting at home. I knew I couldn’t be the only one with a minor podcast addiction, so I asked around the Walker Tracker office and received an overwhelming response of podcast suggestions that I’d like to share with you.

Below is Walker Tracker’s 10 favorite podcasts that we can’t get enough of.  Check out our list and let us know what other podcasts we should add to the list.

 

The Curiosity Podcast
Each week, The Curiosity Podcast interviews experts on a variety of compelling topics. Curiosity has something for everyone. You can find stories about Science and Technology, Amazing Places, Food and Culture, and Mind and Body. That’s just the beginning. Curiosity is the podcast to listen to when you want to learn something new every day.

Lore
Not for the faint of heart, Lore is a critically acclaimed podcast that focuses on real-life scary stories. If you love sitting around a campfire and listening to hair-raising tales then this podcast is for you. Each episode explores the darker side of historical events, places, and people.

The Moth
The Moth broadcasts storytelling from live events they’ve held around the globe. This podcast is famous for its authentic stories of the human experience. Each show has a unique theme and different storytellers who share their personal experiences. One story may bring you to tears while the next can keep you laughing. You’ll never what to expect with The Moth.

Philosophy Talk
“Question Everything” is the best phrase to describe Philosophy Talk. This weekly podcast led by several Professors from Stanford University encourage their listeners to join them in examining a broad range of subjects. Their goal is to challenge their listeners to not only recognize their own beliefs and assumptions but also view issues from a new perspective.

Radiolab
Radiolab investigates a variety of topics on science and philosophy while presenting them in a unique and fun storytelling style. Episodes are broken into a combination of stories, musical cues, and interviews. The interviews are with experts in the field or with people that have an interesting story about the show’s topic.

Song Exploder
If you love music and are looking to learn more about your favorite bands and how they are inspired then give Song Exploder a try. This podcast asks musicians to deconstruct their songs and share their influences and their creative process. Song Exploder has talked with an extensive list of artists from Björk to Metallica. They have over 100 guests bands for you to choose from.

Ted Radio Hour
Ted Talks are famous for their inspiring speakers and subjects. This tradition continues with the Ted Radio Hour. An engrossing podcast that touches on a diverse mix of topics, ideas, and perspectives. Its thought-provoking content will give you something to contemplate throughout your day.

This American Life
This award-winning podcast has been going strong since 1995. Each week This American Life shares stories that follow a specific theme. Well known for its engaging storytelling the show isn’t afraid to experiment by creating unique episodes such as taping a show for 24 hours in all night restaurant or putting a band together from classified ads. With over 600 episodes you’ll find something that piques your interest or check out the host, Ira Glass’ recommended list of episodes:  “New to This American Life”.

The Tim Ferriss Show
You may know Tim Ferriss as a “self-experimenter” and best selling author of “The 4-Hour Work Week”. You can now follow him via his podcast The Tim Ferriss Show. In his show, he interviews notable professionals in a variety of fields and breaks down the steps they took to reach their success to help listeners find tools and strategies that may work for them.

Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me
NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me is a quiz show which may cause you to laugh out loud. Each week call-in contestants and the show’s guests, which are experts in the news and entertainment industry, are asked to determine which provided news stories are true and which are made up. You may be surprised by which stories are actually true.

 

These are just a few of the many podcasts that we at Walker Tracker are listening to.  Do you have a podcast you listen to regularly? Share your favorites with us.