By Drew Eason, FDA Executive Director
We’re getting to that time of year, even here in Florida, where our exercise habits might start to dwindle a bit. Halloween candy, turkey dinners, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s celebrations — you get the picture! One way to fight off potential weight gain or a drop in fitness level is to walk. It’s also great to help control stress.
At the Florida Dental Association (FDA), we’ve just started a walking contest. So now, in addition to the benefits of walking listed above, we’ve also added a teambuilding element. Here’s how it works: Staff wanting to participate (and most are) purchase a pedometer. It can be more expensive like the latest Fitbit or as simple as a $20 pedometer that clips to a belt. For this first week, everyone monitors their steps and turns in their count for the week. We then divide everyone up into teams based on their baseline week (keeping the teams equal with high/low count walkers combined). Each team picks a name and a captain. The captain’s role is to keep the team motivated and to collect everyone’s step total for each week.
Here at the FDA, we decided to “walk” from the FDA headquarters to the California Dental Association headquarters in Sacramento. For simplicity, we use the average of 2,000 steps/mile. To win, a team needs to be the first one to “walk” to Sacramento. Each week we post the teams in rank order.
I’ve done contests like this in the past. Instead of staff eating at their desk or going out for fast food, you’ll see them take a walk at lunch. You see staff who might not normally interact that much arrive to work 30 minutes early to go for a walk together. The impact of such a simple program is extremely positive.
What do they win? We give the first team a paid day off. Second place is a half day off, etc. It’s a very inexpensive way to help staff stay healthy and incorporate some teambuilding.
During my lunch, you’ll find me at the mall to do a few laps!