April 11, 2008

Start! program gets people moving

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Start! program gets people moving

Wednesday, April 16, is the American Heart Association's National Start! Walking Day, and Medical Center employees are encouraged to wear their sneakers to work and join Vanderbilt's largest walking event.

Senior leaders, faculty and staff can convene at noon at the Eskind Biomedical Library. Walkers will start from different points on the Medical Center, University and Peabody campuses and finish at Library Lawn at 12:45. A healthy snack and prize drawings will be available.

Wednesday's event is part of the AHA's Start! program, which is designed to get employees moving more. VMC is partnering with the AHA to offer Start! to its employees. In February, HealthPlus set a goal for faculty and staff to reach 100,000,000 combined steps by Oct. 31.

Participants embraced that goal, and recently achieved it. A new goal of a quarter billion combined steps has been set.

“The program has been successful beyond expectations,” said Mary Yarbrough, M.D., associate professor of Medicine and director of Health and Wellness.

“My feeling is that the program has done so well because from the individual's perspective, it's a fun and easy way to get exercise. But also, it is one thing we can all do together to support our community in trying to achieve a healthy lifestyle and balance. It's always easier to do something when others do it with you.”

There are a number of ways for employees to get involved. The first is to visit the Health Plus Web site at www.healthplus@vanderbilt.edu and click on the green Start! button.

Each registered participant receives a step pedometer and a resource kit.

By registering, employees can also qualify for prizes for each of three challenges during the year and may qualify to be entered in a drawing for bigger prizes.

To date, 1,869 Vanderbilt employees have registered. Participants will be recognized at the AHA's annual Heart Walk, which is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 27.

Medical Center co-chairs for this year's Heart Walk are C. Wright Pinson, M.D., associate vice chancellor for Clinical Affairs, and Jeff Samz, C.E.O. of the Vanderbilt Heart & Vascular Institute.

“We have been pleased with the way faculty and staff have joined in the program and participated in taking steps to be more active,” said Marilyn Holmes, manager of Health Plus.

“Being inactive is a risk factor for many conditions and diseases and moving more in your day can really impact your health in so many ways.

“It doesn't take a lot — just 10 minutes three times a day can make a significant difference in how we feel and in our risk for disease.”

For more information, please visit the Health Plus Web site or call 343-8943.