One step at a time: County employees shape up with pedometer program
Visitors to Clay County offices during the past two months probably spotted some strange employee behavior: - Workers vying for the spot in the parking lot farthest from the entrance. - Employees bragging about finding the longest possible way to...
Visitors to Clay County offices during the past two months probably spotted some strange employee behavior:
- Workers vying for the spot in the parking lot farthest from the entrance.
- Employees bragging about finding the longest possible way to get from their desk to the bathroom.
- Co-workers forming small groups to log laps in the hallways.
These antics can be explained by a device roughly the size of a cigarette lighter, but with a much healthier purpose. The employees participated in a pedometer program designed to inspire workers in 72 Minnesota agencies to get more active and, as the theory goes, healthier.
"One of the things employers are finding is for the money you put into employee wellness, you get that much back dollar-wise," says Sue Olson, a dietitian who coordinated the pedom-a-thon for Clay County offices.
Olson's co-workers weren't thinking about the corporate costs of missed work and insurance claims as they formed teams and logged their steps each week. They were striving to stride more than they had during the previous days and weeks.
"They make people more aware," Olson says of pedometers. "Some think they're active and really aren't that active."
The opposite was true for Vicki Huck, who logged 60,000 to 70,000 steps weekly. Huck teaches in the Pelican Rapids (Minn.) School District, another participant in the program.
With a new baby and full-time job, Huck has no extra time to go for walks. Still, her totals matched health experts' recommended activity level of 10,000 steps a day. "I couldn't believe how many steps I took," she says.
Unlike Huck, sedentary people take about 3,000 steps daily. Roughly 2,000 steps equal a mile, but that number varies depending on a walker's stride length.
The instant-feedback factor has made the gadgets increasingly popular in weight-loss clinics, physical education classes and corporate fitness programs.
Pedometers record steps by generating an impulse when the foot strikes the ground. That impulse counts as one step on a digital screen, a more accurate method than that used by earlier mechanical models. Thomas Jefferson invented the first pedometer.
Results-driven people are especially inspired by the devices, says Jamie Otte, fitness manager at Scheel's All Sports, Fargo.
"They like to see progress. People love to see how they do. It's a motivating tool," Otte says.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Andrea Berninger at firstname.lastname@example.org or (701) 241-5533