Introducing McKenzie – the Newest Member of the Walker Tracker Team

Hey Walker Track community! My name is McKenzie, and I am a new addition to the Walker Tracker team here in Portland, Oregon. I was born and raised in Portland, therefore I have grown up around a plethora of like-minded people who enjoy wellness, good coffee and nature as much as I do. I recently graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Public Health. My area of focus was Health Promotion and Healthy Behaviors. The last 5 years at OSU have provided me with a ton of awesome information to share with you.

I have most recently been spending my free time experimenting with plant-based cooking, and strive to make every meal I share with others a learning experience. I am passionate about vegetarian lifestyle and strive to surprise my friends and family with amazing, nourishing vegetarian and vegan meals. I love discovering new hikes in our beautiful state, surfing, taking yoga and dance classes, drawing, painting and challenging myself by learning to use new art mediums. I also always keep an eye out for the newest trends in wellness, whether it be a new superfood or a crazy theory that getting less sleep can make you happier…

I am a huge fan of all types of music, bonus points if it’s live! I can usually be found at a local show, or at a weekend festival dancing with friends (one of my favorite ways to get active). There’s nothing quite like the amazing energy a crowd groovin’ to the same beat provides.

So there’s a bit about me, make sure to keep an eye out for some upcoming posts on the blog!

Ciao,

McKenzie

Is sitting the new smoking?

Is sitting the new smoking? I have heard this question quite a bit over the past year. There is no doubt science is starting to show that sitting is really bad for us, and our lives are becoming more and more sedentary. At Walker Tracker we work to help bring movement to the workplace, which can often be the biggest contributor to the amount people are sitting each day.

 

Recently I came across an article by Susan Scutti titled “Yes, sitting too long can kill you, even if you exercise” (find the article here) referencing a study that tracked not only how active the participants were, but also how frequently they were getting up and moving. The results? Long uninterrupted periods of sitting are really bad for us.

 

Currently, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults do moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for two hours and 30 minutes every week, plus muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week. The article suggests we need similar guidelines for sitting, but more research needs to be done to determine just how often we should be getting up and moving, and for how long that movement should be

 

One finding of the study was, “people who sat for less than 30 minutes at a time had the lowest risk of early death.” Keith Diaz, the lead author of the new study and an associate research scientist in the Columbia University Department of Medicine, offered the following, “if you have a job or lifestyle where you have to sit for prolonged periods, the best suggestion I can make is to take a movement break every half hour. Our findings suggest this one behavior change could reduce your risk of death.”

 

So even if you make a point to hit the gym after work, it might not be enough to combat the hours you spent sitting during the day. Make a point to set a reminder to get up every thirty minutes or so to get those steps in! Not only will this help keep you healthier (and alive longer), but I bet you will see an increase in productivity and creativeness in your day as well. Check back for more on that in a future post…

Hiking Adventures To Promote Social Wellness

I’d like to introduce you to a company close to my heart.  We’ve known each other for 25+ years and they offered me my first job (albeit digging through boxes and boxes of files when I was 13 or so).

Welcome to the show, CIDA!  CIDA just happens to be the company my father built.  They are extremely dedicated to their employees’ wellness and well-being and I count myself lucky to get the insider scoop.

Sometimes word of their initiatives trickle into my inbox from my dad (by way of a forward with some emoji’s sprinkled on top – he really loves those things…).  It’s exciting to learn how their team supports each other in healthy habits and activities.  The latest: a series of hikes they’re doing together this summer.  It’s my honor to share with you some insight from Mya, the Director of Interior Design, who put this together.

Now to the good stuff!

 

Taylor:  What inspired you to set up the CIDA hikes?

Mya:  My main reason for scheduling these hikes was to promote social events with our employees outside of work hours, as we tend to work pretty diligently during the work week.  While I, myself, have a hard time breaking away from my desk to socialize, some staff do take walks during lunch together.  Many of our staff do take hikes with family and friends on the weekends and I thought it would be fun to try and coordinate these monthly as a group and even pair it with events as the seasons change (berry-picking, pumpkin-patching, Christmas-tree-hunting, etc.).

Punchbowl Falls, one of the hikes on the menu for this summer!

 

Taylor:  CIDA was named one of the Top 100 Companies to work for in Oregon (2017)!  That is amazing.  What core values lend themselves to both the company’s mission and your internal company culture?

Mya:  Thanks!  We are all really proud that our employees voted us into this amazing category!  One sentence from our mission statement really seems to speak to both of these; we have high standards, we encourage people to grow, and we enjoy what we do. CIDA understands that for an employee to become the best professional they can be, they need support, guidance and understanding from the organization. We know that investments made for employees pay off to happier clients and staff, a better built environment and an improved broader community. Most of all, we enjoy what we do!!

 

Taylor: What kind of ROI do you see with participants of your events/wellness program?

Mya:  Our staff definitely seem happier after non-work events/social gatherings together and certainly gain health benefits when these include active tasks.  These group activities increase our social bond and encourage us to get to know each other, and our family members, on a personal level, which of course makes us all more invested in each other.  Those bonds make our working environment more like a family situation than purely co-workers.

 

Taylor:  I love that these hikes focus on both social and physical wellness.  We’re hearing a lot lately about social well-being, community and belonging as leading wellness trends – do you have any other fun ideas up your sleeve that you’d be willing to share with our community?

Mya:  CIDA has always coordinated a summer picnic/camp trip, which does tend to include hikes, lawn games, water balloon fights and the like.  We have also had teams for various events like the OHS Doggie Dash and just participated in the Rappel for Her event put on as a fundraising event for Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest.  CIDA also takes part in the annual Summer 10,000 step challenge where we engage in some healthy competition with other small businesses in our area. This challenge is organized through our health insurance who also points out that insurance premiums are lower when groups are healthier.  Fridays have historically been “Bring Your Dog to Work Day” at CIDA, which we all know decreases stress levels and creates a happier work environment, but you can bet that at least one dog is in our office randomly each week at any given moment (my two are here with me today).

 

Taylor: Who leads the wellness program at CIDA?  Do you have a Team or Champions or volunteers?  How does leadership play a part in getting folks involved?  Leadership buy-in is often a contributing factor to participation levels in our programs.  Do you find that having the President + leadership team involved boosts participation?

Mya:  I’d have to say that Rachel Johnson typically heads our wellness program (strongly support by our president, Jennifer), as she is generally the one to coordinate the details for most events, but all employees are encouraged to offer suggestions and to maintain a “captain” role in any event that they may bring into the office.  Because CIDA is open to these events, our staff know that they are welcome to bring opportunities to our attention.  This allows a wide variety of events and activities, as well as, a sense of ownership in our company and our larger communities.  Involvement by leadership definitely boosts participation and CIDA has always had the kind of leaders that get in there with the team and make any task fun.  This definitely crosses over into the non-work activities as well.  CIDA really is a no-ego type of an office – we are all in it together.

 

Taylor:  Any other advice for companies looking to start a wellness program (or bring new life to the one they have)?

Mya:  Just to look for, and be open to, opportunities.  Often times your staff lead you to these by their passing conversations.  I think that’s how the CIDA Hikes came about and it just seemed appropriate to coordinate an office-wide hike.  So far the response has been amazing!  We kick-off CIDA Hikes this Saturday and plan to do them the first Saturday of every month.

 

 

 

 

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: 

Social wellness is super important.  Building and finding a community helps you stick with your healthy habits, encourages you to try new things and can keep you engaged long term.  So, by all means, Community-up!

You could apply this across many of your communities; here are some ideas:

In your workplace: invite some co-workers to join you in an activity/class/adventure.  With your family: start a friendly competition that challenges you all to reach goals, now – you have others to check in with and hold you accountable.  With your friends:  plan a weekend hike or trip that support a healthy lifestyle (hint: a healthy lifestyle is broad, don’t let it feel constricted to exercise.  Maybe you go to a spa to de-stress or cook together, creating a fun and social outlet around a meal).

 

Who is CIDA?  Find out more on their website – http://www.cidainc.com

 

Please, share your ideas, successes and calls to action with us.

 

Cheers!

Taylor

Infrastructure maintenance notice

Just a quick heads-up:

Walker Tracker will be undergoing an infrastructure transition on the night of August 3rd, starting at 8pm Pacific time.

Please follow this status notice for updates

 

NYC Partner: Physician-Based Corporate Wellness Solutions

Are you in the New York City area?

We’re happy to introduce our newest Walker Tracker partner: Physician-Based Corporate Wellness Solutions.  We’ve joined forces to improve engagement and depth of your wellness program at discounted rates.  Read on to learn more about their offerings and how, together, our services can lead to longterm engagement and healthier employees.

 

“Physician-Based Corporate Wellness Solutions, a leader in corporate wellness programming, is at the forefront of the preventive medicine movement. Headed by a physician, we bring the power of lifestyle medicine to the workplace. We emphasize medically sound information using an engaging, supportive approach. Through our expertise and guidance, numerous individuals have altered their eating habits, lost weight, increased activity, and effectively managed their stress. Moreover, we frequently identify undiagnosed or ignored elevated blood pressure. Our approach often results in previously unmotivated individuals becoming enthusiastic participants in their health and well-being.

For information about our services visit our website: www.corporatewellnessMD.com

Physician-Based Corporate Wellness Solutions is pleased to be partnering with Walker Tracker to provide onsite services. Together, the Walker Tracker platform coupled with an onsite exercise seminar and individual medical screenings, will achieve the core objectives of a corporate fitness challenge: the encouragement of employees to safely increase physical activity, consider health-related consequences of lifestyle choices, break harmful habits, and become more fit in a health-promoting atmosphere.”

 

 

Questions? Ready to engage?  Get in touch!

sales@walkertracker.com

 

 

Where our data comes from – the marketshare of various connected devices

What happened this year in the land of connected activity devices? It has been a disruptive few years for a lot of ‘internet of things’ companies.  Fitlinxx, the maker of Pebbles, went out of business, Withings was acquired by Nokia, Misfit was acquired by Fossil, MapMyFitness was acquired by Under Armour, and Jawbone stopped making consumer devices. Where does that leave us?

As of today, here’s where Walker Tracker data comes from.

 

 

What about all those tiny slices at the top of the graph?

the breakdown of the small slices of data from the above chart

How does this compare to last year?

 

Our data sources from July 2016

It’s pretty easy to see from the data that Fitbit is still king and gained share year over year. The trends show a rise in Apple Health, Fitbit, Google Fit, and Garmin. Decreases are seen in manual entry (these are from the traditional, non-connected devices — they still retain a healthy following on Walker Tracker and are, by nature, the most privacy sensitive of the lot), Jawbone, and pretty much all other devices.

We do not connect with all devices (we added MapMyFitness today!), though we constantly evaluate to see which devices we ought to connect to. Let us know what you think of your device in the comments.

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

Go To Yoga Moves for ‘Those Days’ – Guest Blogger Jessica Lin

I first met Jessica through yoga.  We taught at the same studio and immediately hit it off (I’m talking first 2 minutes of knowing one another).  Thus,  I am elated to have her guest blog for Walker Tracker and share some yoga wisdom with our community!  Take it away, Jessica!

 

We all have’ those days’, you know the ones, you feel sluggish, off, and just not into anything. Your brain feels slow, your body isn’t cooperating, or everything seems to just fall short Those days are the worst BUT there is a way to turn them around; if you’re willing to put in a little bit of effort. I’m usually all about ‘maximum effort’ but on ‘those days’ I’m all about minimal effort. So, here are my go-to yoga moves to turn any blah day around.

I suggest starting with a few Sun Salutations to warm up the body. This series of movements gets your blood moving and allows new energy into your body. Start small, in as little as three times through and you’ll already start to feel better; you can do as many as you need.

Sun A: Start in Mountain Pose (see below), as you exhale: fold forward from your waist and bring your hands toward the floor. Inhale: lift halfway up,abs pulled in, gaze forward and down, shoulders away from your ears. Exhale: step to high plank pose; hold this posture for a full breath cycle and on your next exhale lower ½ way down (Chaturanga) or all the way down to your belly. Inhale: Up-dog/Cobra Pose Exhale: Down Dog

 

Mountain Pose: Start with hands along your sides, palms facing forward, feet about hip distance apart as you inhale, reach your arms overhead, relax your shoulders away from your ears, spiral your pinky toward one another, draw your abs up and in, actively press your feet down into the earth. Mountain pose helps you to reground to earth, create strength in your body, help find your natural alignment and improve your posture.

 

 

Plank Pose: place your wrists under your shoulders, hips in line with your shoulder, abs in, engage your legs. This pose helps to strengthening and align the body, core, and spine as well as improve respiratory function. Option for Chaturanga from plank – bend your elbows by your sides to 90 degrees, keep the strength of your planks.

 

Cobra Pose: Start with your forehead on your mat, hands under your shoulders, as you inhale lift your chin and chest away from the floor usings your back muscles as you draw your abs toward your spine, gaze forward and down, slightly tuck your chin to keep your neck long.

 

Down Dog: Hands shoulder width distance, push into your fingertips, strong through your upper back as you lift your hips up and back, create an inverted V, relax down through your heels as you draw your abs up and in.

 

Legs up the wall: Super awesome, restorative pose, can be done anywhere anytime. My favorite time is with my legs up my headboard while I’m reading in my bed! Bring your hips all the way into the wall as you bring your legs to rest above you. Relax through your feet, send energy to your breath. Hangout!

 

Happy Baby: Awesome before you even get out of bed in the morning! On your back hug your knees in towards the corners of your chest, extend your feet towards the sky and grab anywhere that feels comfortable (big toe, feet, calves, thighs), make sure to keep your low back down and relax through your shoulders. This pose is fun, relaxing, creates compression in the body to release new energy into the body.

 

Supine Twist: Another great pose for first thing in the morning. Minimal effort needed for this one and it can come before or after happy baby. Start with your RIGHT leg pulled in toward your armpit, left leg extended down, give yourself a little hug around your right shin as you inhale, as you exhale cross your RIGHT leg over to the left, extend your right arm long as you gaze over your shoulder. Hold this side for 3-5 breaths and then switch sides moving slowly and with your breath. This posture is great for digestions, releasing low back tension, and stabilizing good posture.

 

Seated Twist: One of my favorite poses, you can easily do this in an office chair, on the floor, just about anywhere and it’s GREAT for digestion and easing lower back pain. Sit with your RIGHT leg crossed over your left in anyway, place your left hand to the outside of your right thigh as you twist up and over to the right, gaze to the right over your shoulder if it feels good. Hold 3-5 breaths, return to center then over to the left side.

You’ll  be surprised how your ‘blah day’ can change in about 10/ 15 minutes just by doing some of these poses. If you only have a few minutes just take a moment to sit, close your eyes, and breathe. The deepest part of yoga is the breath. At the beginning and the end of everything it comes back to the breath, to taking your time to become aware of the sensations within your body. Take a little moment each day to work on the idea of awareness to help you easily shift out of the funk and into the flow.

 

Join me on my journey to the self via travel, yoga, and exploring the world around me on my blog and social channels! Share your energy and be true to yourself!

 

-Jessica Lin

My Blog: www.myperfectnightout.com

@theonlyjesslin

 

Produce Review: Cherimoya

After waiting a week for it to ripen, I was ready to try another new exotic fruit: the Cherimoya!  I found a few at a local supermarket, and I was told by the produce manager that they only get in a few dozen within only a 14 day window.   My initial reaction was wow, what makes these so tough to acquire?

It turns out the Cherimoya are actually quite a difficult fruit to grow and maintain.  They’re found natively in Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.  They only grow at specific altitude ranges (about 2,300-2,700 ft), require excellent drainage, and don’t tolerate hot/cold very well at all.  Perhaps their most interesting issue is that they require hand-pollination, so Cherimoya farmers will hand brush pollen onto the 30 ft Cherimoya tree’s flowers in order to produce Cherimoya fruit using paint brushes!  Whew, what work!

The fruit itself seems somewhat like a Cactus in color and texture but much like an Avocado you must wait until the fruit is soft to the touch to know if the fruit is ready to eat.  My Cherimoya’s green outer skin had turned mostly brown by the time the fruit was soft to the touch.

I noticed my Cherimoya didn’t have any fragrance as the whole fruit or when I cut it open.  The Cherimoya has many larger seeds inside of it.  Eating it reminded me of a seeded Watermelon, but as an added caution, unlike a Watermelon, the seeds (and skin) of a Cherimoya are poisonous and should not be consumed.

The taste was very faint, and there were no discernible prominent flavors.  Others describe the taste as a mix of various other flavors like pineapple and banana.  I would agree with the Cherimoya’s nickname “Custard Apple”, as the texture is very custardy.  However, I’m going to say that I wasn’t impressed with the flavor.  I’ve tried the northern cousin of the Cherimoya: the Paw Paw & had a similar review on it’s flavor… Perhaps my Cherimoya (& Paw Paw) still wasn’t ripe enough.

So if you’re able to acquire a Cherimoya, be sure to consult with a produce expert to ensure that you’re consuming your Cherimoya at its pique flavor and ripeness.  If anyone has any suggestions on how to get the most out of your Cherimoya, please feel free to let others know!

Below is a recipe that I found for a raw Cherimoya custard from Unconventional Baker:

Raw Cherimoya Custard Pudding

References:

http://foodfacts.mercola.com/cherimoya.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherimoya

Taking Care of Your Mental Health using Art

Believe it or not, I’m trained as an Art Therapist (in addition to being a member of Walker Tracker’s Help Desk).  I’m quite a fan of holistic health care, which I view as promoting wellness in all avenues of yourself.

I believe that mental health is an important piece of wellness, and I’ve noticed that there’s been a recent trend of “Adult Coloring Books”, which are books/magazines with intricate images to color that have been shown to decrease anxiety.  I’ve tried a few of the books, and I found them very similar to coloring mandalas, which are circles that have intricate designs inside them to color (coloring mandalas as a method of decreasing anxiety was my area of focus for my Master’s thesis).  Coloring intricate shapes has been shown to trigger the same psychological response as meditation, and do not require you to have any experience in art.  After you’re finished you end up with a one of a kind awesome image too!

You can always search online for “coloring mandalas” and find some fun images to color.  Just a few minutes of coloring could have beneficial affects on your mood.

If you’re looking for a slight twist on the coloring concept, you can also try Zentangle.  In Zentangle you’re given a square and bunches of doodles to choose from that are very similar to high school notebook style doodles to recreate inside of the box.  You can make the doodles as large or as small as you want.  You can also make them really detailed or simple.  I’ve included an example of my own Zentangle for reference.

This is an example of a Zentangle that this author made

In general, taking a little time out of each day to take care of your mental health can go a long way to maintaining overall well being & a positive sense of self.  What else do you enjoy doing that contributes positively to your mental health throughout the day?  I look forward to hearing from you all!

Some resources discussing the mental health benefits of coloring:

http://www.medicaldaily.com/therapeutic-science-adult-coloring-books-how-childhood-pastime-helps-adults-356280

Image from: http://mentalfloss.com/article/70978/10-intricate-adult-coloring-books-help-you-de-stress

Curry, N. A., & Kasser, T. (2005). Can coloring mandalas reduce anxiety? Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 22(2), 81-85. doi:10.1080/07421656.2005.10129441

Van der Vennet, R., & Serice, S. (2012). Can Coloring Mandalas Reduce Anxiety? A Replication Study. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 29(2), 87-92. doi:10.1080/07421656.2012.680047