Professional News

Beyond Steps, Challenge Offers Broader Health Benefits

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 27, 2018) — The first Step Up Challenge in 2018 began midnight, Sunday, Feb. 25. More than 4,000 faculty, staff, retirees and spouses are currently participating in the six-week physical activity challenge, which ends with an optional 5K on the last day of the challenge, April 7.

To sign up, log in to your UK Human Resources Health and Wellness dashboard. The deadline to sign up is Sunday, March 4, one week after the start date.

Participants earn UK gear as a prize if they meet their chosen goal. Prizes are the same no matter the goal. Options for goals are 6,000; 8,000; or 10,000 steps per day on average.

"Regardless of how much you typically move, we want to encourage moving a little bit more often throughout the day," said Health and Wellness Manager Jody Ensman. "Because physical activity is connected to other aspects of health, we're offering additional free events to challenge participants."

Ensman's team will host walking meetups and events focused on reducing stress and improving nutrition. Meetups and events include:

  • therapeutic chair massage events;
  • Facebook live broadcasts on well-being topics with UK health coaches; and
  • grocery store tour events at Lucky's Market with UK dietitians.

This year's Step Up Challenge marks the university's sixth physical activity challenge since the program started in 2015. Challenge participants use Fitbits offered as a benefit for employees in addition to UK health plan members. However, participants can use any fitness tracker that is compatible with the challenge platform, MoveSpring.

An increasing amount of activity trackers emphasize factors connected to physical activity. Many include the ability to monitor hydration, nutrition, sleep and heart rate.

A cardiologist in the UK College of Medicine who participates in these challenges, Dr. Vincent Sorrell, notes an important connection between resting heart rate and exercise. Increasing the rigor of exercise — relative to your current level — impacts heart health positively by lowering resting heart rate.

Watch the video above to hear how Sorrell challenges participants to do "something that’s out of your norm" with the reminder that "you don't have to be an athlete."