By Melinda Burns

 The dog days of summer were upon us: we were in the middle of summer, it was hot, we were keeping our social distance away from others – when…wow! Wildwood’s Health Eating, Active Living (HEAL) Committee gave us a unique opportunity: The Wildwood Walking Challenge. For the challenge, staff could walk individually or reach out to others to make up a team, set individual walking goals for the month, and find a destination based on the total mileage. It was perfect timing!   

Nearly 50 staff members engaged in the walking challenge program. Participants were happy to have the opportunity to do something fun, and a reason to interact with others after working from home for so long. They strapped on pedometers and mileage recorders and tracked their daily mileage. Through the program, healthy habits were encouraged and reinforced.  

Hector Perez, a member of the Wildwood Wanderers Team, said that the Walk Challenge: “Motivated me on many levels. I set goals, reached them and then set new goals. Some days when I didn’t really feel like walking, I knew I couldn’t let my team down. If one succeeds, we all succeed.”  Doing exercise as a team and connecting with others was key. Teammates cheered each other on virtually and connected regularly. The daily mileage was recorded on a Google Doc and made available for all team members.

Because gyms were closed and everyone was more isolated, the Walk Challenge came at the perfect time. Participants enjoyed listening to music as they walked, lost weight, and became more involved with others. The challenge helped staff feel more connected, motivated and inspired. This regular walking helped clear minds and set aside quiet time for the day, leading to greater productivity.

Setting a goal to get outside and “get your steps in” was very important to encourage employees to focus on their health. Even with the summer heat and rainy days, participants completed 6,117.6 miles in 30 days! As a collective group, everyone walked to San Francisco and back – and then still walked to Ottawa, Canada! The walkers with the three highest mileage totals received cash prizes, while all participants who completed the challenge received gift cards. Go Team Wildwood! 

With more activities going virtual and staff spending more time in front of computer screens every day, the Walking Challenge was easy to access and provided a very welcome focus on personal health and active living. The Walking Challenge, created by The Wildwood HEAL Spring & Summer Activity Sub-Committee, focused on creating new and unique opportunities for staff and individuals to become more active on a regular basis.

We are looking forward to the fall activities from the HEAL Committee, and many walkers will continue their efforts as they join the upcoming Walk for Wildwood. Learn more about this year’s Walk in the article “The Walk for Wildwood Goes Virtual in 2020!”