A competition where every player wins

Spend 12 weeks improving your physical and mental fitness; 2007 Healthy Challenge starts Jan. 22
Judith Davies
Judith Davies, an occupational health nurse at the Center, has organized a group that meets to practice a combination of kickboxing and weight training. The hour-long sessions provide a moderate- to high-intensity workout and alternate kicking and punching choreography with upper- and lower-body weight training — all paced to high-energy music. The sessions end with abdominal exercises and stretching. Photo by Stephanie Cartier

It's a new year. Is it time for a new you?

The fifth annual Healthy Challenge begins Jan. 22 and provides an opportunity to focus on daily choices designed to improve overall health. Last year, more than 700 Hutchinson Center and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance employees participated in the event, which promotes exercise, good diet and general health habits through the camaraderie of being part of a team.

Taking the challenge is simple. Just join or form a team of co-workers or family members, set a personal goal and start earning points for various healthy lifestyle choices. At the end of the 12-week challenge, the teams with the highest average scores will be recognized with prizes.

Employee advisory committees at the Center and the SCCA sponsor the Healthy Challenge. Although some people enjoy the competition, the challenge is more about helping people start, renew or continue a personal commitment to good health.

Participants can score points in five categories: physical activity, nutrition, general health, special events and — for the first time — mental health. "A significant part of feeling healthy, feeling well has to do with your attitude," said Jonathan Sheppard, compensation and benefits manager at the Center. "There are a lot of synergies between mental and physical health."

Healthy Challenge participants can earn mental-health points by engaging in at least 15 minutes of activity that provides stress relief and/or mental rejuvenation (excluding any activities for which they claim physical activity points). Examples include stretching/breathing exercises, meditation, reading a book or walking your dog.

Examples of point-earning activities from the other categories include sustained physical activity, eating one or more whole-grain foods daily and attending any four of eight scheduled special events. Points also are awarded for meeting personal fitness goals or keeping a very simple journal in which the participant reflects on his or her efforts and records progress made toward the accomplishment of weekly and long-term goals.

The Healthy Challenge will feature many special events that are open to all Center and SCCA staff. These brown-bag events will highlight research findings on exercise and nutrition and offer practical ways for people to incorporate healthy habits into their daily routines.

Like last year, participants can again join informal lunchtime walking groups as a means to earn physical activity points. Healthy Challenge organizers have identified a number of routes. Each week, one of the routes will be designated as the walk of the week. Anyone who completes that route is eligible to enter a drawing for a health-related prize.

Another convenient way to earn points is to join one of several ongoing exercise programs at the Center ranging from Pilates to yoga.

Register by Jan. 19

The Healthy Challenge registration deadline is Jan. 19. Employee teams can range from three to eight members. Home teams must include a minimum of two people with at least one member being a Center or SCCA employee. Each team picks a captain to serve as contact person. The captain receives and relays information about challenge events, collects individual scores and reports team scores.

All of the details related to the Healthy Challenge — including the rules, point system, maps for lunchtime walks and schedules for special events and exercise classes — can be found online at centernet.fhcrc.org/CN/depts/hr/healthy/challenge. These tools, along with the support of your teammates, can help guide you toward making daily choices for a healthier you, with benefits that can extend throughout the year.

Health, Wellness Fair Jan. 30

Increase your awareness about health, wellness and the resources in your community. Attend the Health and Wellness Fair, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Arnold Building, M1-A303/305/307.

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