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!

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?

Meet Walker Tracker’s New Team Member – Jill Moran

Hey there! I’m Jill and I recently joined the Walker Tracker Marketing team! I’m originally from Long Beach, CA, but decided to ditch the sunshine for moody Portland in December 2010 and I haven’t looked back.

Why did you move to Portland?
I went to the University of Oregon and felt like I left a part of me in the Pacific Northwest after moving back to Southern California. I found an amazing program in Book Publishing & Technical Writing at Portland State University, so I packed up and headed for Portland.

What’s your ideal weekend?
Going on a long run (I’m always training for something), lots of coffee, finding some time to read, checking out a new brewery, watching a Portland Timbers match, getting some yummy food.

What’s your favorite word?
Accoutrement.

Important question… team cat or team dog?
Team any cute, cuddly creature! But if I must choose, team dog all the way.

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.

Walking For Water – World Water Day

Every day, I turn on the faucet without a thought, unable to imagine what I would do if nothing came out. It seems like I am always hearing about how important hydration is for health, especially while being physically active, and I do my best to stay hydrated throughout the day. I recently learned that if you held all of the water in the world in a gallon jug (~3.85 liters), there would only be about a tablespoon of fresh water. With such a statistic, it does cause me to pause and think about how blessed I am to have fresh water on demand, as well as wonder what can be done to help the 2.1 billion people lacking access to safely managed drinking water services (United Nations World Water Development Report 2018). This reflection is timely, as today is World Water Day, a day to draw attention to the importance of fresh and clean water.

On Sunday, April 29th, Walker Tracker is participating in the Carry5 Walk For Water, a fundraiser for Water 1st International. The walk involves carrying water for 5 kilometers in solidarity with the 1 billion people who lack access to clean water. Walker Tracker is supporting Water 1st International because sustainable water and sanitation projects improve health & wellbeing, as well as create opportunity in the world’s poorest communities. Every $85 raised provides one person with clean water and a toilet FOR LIFE.

Walking for your health is important, but you might also consider being physically active for a cause that is important to you. Many nonprofits hold walking fundraisers. Another option, if your nonprofit of choice does not hold a similar event is to create your own fundraiser by asking for donations based on your own physical activity. You could participant in a local 5k walk/run or sports tournament and ask coworkers, family, and friends for donations. You would be helping your health and your cause. A win-win. What will you walk for?

To donate or learn more about Water 1st and the Carry5 Walk visit https://water1st.org/carry5/portland/. Stay tuned for updates on our walk.

Introducing Our Newest Walker Tracker Team Member

We are excited to welcome a new member of our team, Nick Buckingham. Nick is joining our growing business development team. We asked Nick a little about himself, and here is what he had to say: 

How long have you lived in Portland?
I have lived in Portland pretty much my whole life, with a couple of years in Northern California. I left Portland a couple years ago to spend a very short time period up in Seattle. This was short lived because nothing really compares to Portland. 

Are you team dog or team cat?
I’m definitely team dog. I have one puppy, named Emma. She is a very sassy dachshund. 

What is something important about you people should know?
I have a six-year-old son that keeps me on my toes daily.  

How do you like to be active?
Mostly outdoor activities including trips to the beach and hiking almost every weekend.

What is a fun fact about you?
I enjoy writing in my free time, as well as reading when I can, and I just completed my first manuscript- a fiction novel.  

International Women’s Day – Celebrating the Work Women Do

Walker Tracker's Management Team

Walker Tracker’s amazing management team: Stephanie Green, Ben Parzybok, Taylor Welsh, and Blanca Garcia-Rinder

International Women’s Day is March 8th and Walker Tracker is proud to celebrate and acknowledge the work women are doing both at our company and around the world. This has been a big year for women everywhere and for the women at Walker Tracker.

In January the list of leaders for the Fortune 500 companies came out and there were more women on it than ever, growing from 21 to 31 female CEOS- the highest number since the list started in 1955. While this is great news, there is still a lot of work to be done, as that is only 6.4% of the companies with female leadership.

Women have outnumbered men on college campuses since 1988 and yet hold far less leadership positions from corporate executive officers, board seats, and college deans to law firm partners, film directors and congressional seats. (For more details see the article: “The Women’s Leadership Gap” by the Center for American Progress )

At Walker Tracker we are proud to be a part of a growing number of companies working to bridge this gap. From our CEO, Taylor Welsh, to two out of three of our departments being head by female leaders, we have a strong female presence throughout our organization. We have female representation on every team from customer success to sales to development! We believe this diversity strengthens our perspective as a company and allows us to better partner with our clients to engage all of their employees in a variety of wellness initiatives.

To celebrate International Women’s Day we are releasing a limited time challenge map “Influential Women Throughout History.” Walk around the world and unlock milestone pins with content about these amazing leaders who helped blaze the trail for all women everywhere! This map will be available to all our new and current programs through the end of March, as well as a challenge open to anyone on our community site starting, March 8th.

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.

Battling Sugar – Cravings vs Healthy Options

Growing up I always had a fondness for sweet treats. My Mom would often tease me that I was born with a sweet tooth. But today, as more research is available on sugar, the candy bar or cookie that I’ve added as a regular part of my diet is having a direct effect on my overall health. Studies have shown that sugar is highly addictive and can have negative results not only in gaining weight but also increased mood swings. Additionally, it may cause skin to age more rapidly and can cause stress or damage to various organs including the heart. For more information on sugar’s effects please see Web MD’s article “How Does Too Much Sugar Affect Your Body?

Even though it’s common knowledge that we should reduce or even avoid sugar, I find it hard to stop cold turkey when it comes to sweet snacks or desserts.  So here are a few healthy food options that I often eat to help me fight an oncoming sugar craving. Just be sure to follow the rule “everything in moderation” when choosing one of these options.Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate – A bar that is at least 70% cacao is a healthy option that is full of antioxidants. Just limit yourself to a few squares.

Coconut Oil – This healthy fat can add flavor to your foods. Try it in your morning coffee in place of sugar. It acts as a sweetener and provides you with an energy boost.fruit

Fruit – Whole and dried fruits are a great way to eat something sweet while still consuming healthy fibers and nutrients.

Liquorice Tea – It tastes like the candy but will also balance your blood sugar and cortisol levels which should prevent a craving.

Carrot Sticks – An excellent snack that also serves as a source of beta-carotene and is known to lower cholesterol levels and improve eye health. You can also dip them in hummus to make them taste even better.Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes – This starchy but sweet vegetable will help satisfy your hunger and hinder the need for additional snacking.

Beets – This sweet vegetable tastes great and also fights off inflammation which is the cause of conditions such as migraines, arthritis, and heart disease.

Chia Seeds – A great source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as other nutrients this water-absorbing fiber will feed your hunger. Chia Seed Pudding is a great dessert choice.Cinnamon

Cinnamon – This spice is known to regulate blood sugar levels which will reduce your cravings. Try adding cinnamon to sugar-free applesauce or on half a banana with crushed nuts.

Nut Butter – Almond or cashew butter gives you that sweet taste. You’ll also be selecting a healthy fat and protein option.

I do occasionally still reach for a cookie or other sweet treat, but the options above have helped me to make healthier choices and curb my sugar cravings.

Is there a healthy snack you opt for when you have a sugar craving coming on? Do you like a healthy recipe that is low in sugar or sugar-free?  Share your tips and comments with us below.