The American Heart Association established “Move More Month” as a way to encourage individuals, schools, workplaces and communities to get out and walk and put themselves on the road to better health.
Most people know walking is good for their health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity – or an equivalent combination each week.
Research has shown that walking can improve people’s health by helping them maintain a healthy weight, prevent and manage conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, strengthen bones, ward off depression, and improve balance and coordination. And new technologies such as activity trackers – coupled with incentive-based wellness programs – may make walking even more fun, social and rewarding.
These innovative approaches are urgent because, according to the World Health Organization, two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. A McKinsey report suggests the nation loses $225 billion in lost productivity each year due to personal and family health problems. In New York, 25 percent of the adult population is considered obese with a body mass index of 30 or more, according to United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings. What better reason and more social way to help people get moving and on track for better health than to literally take that first step?
To celebrate National Walking Day, on April 5th, UnitedHealthcare and Qualcomm launched a “1 Billion Step Challenge.” For people enrolled in UnitedHealthcare Motion™, an employer-sponsored wearable device wellness program, we challenged them to walk, in aggregate, 1 billion steps. To make it a bit easier, we developed an online map that takes users on a walking tour of 26 of the largest cities across the United States, 10,000 steps at a time. Why 10,000 steps? That’s the number of daily steps many health experts recommend people take to help avoid a sedentary lifestyle. The interactive rollover map highlights the health benefits of walking a minimum of five miles each day (approximately 10,000 steps), and helps people visualize what that distance looks like in 26 cities nationwide, including New York. For example, in NYC, 10,000 steps is approximately the distance between the Chrysler Building on Lexington Ave and Times Square. The map is available online at www.unitedhealthcaremotion.com.
An estimated 70 percent of employers already offer wellness programs, and 8 percent more plan to do so during the next year, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Employers nationwide are expected to incorporate more than 13 million activity trackersinto their wellness programs by 2018, according to technology consultancy Endeavors Partners. That’s important, considering a study in Science & Medicine showed people tend to overestimate how much exercise they get each week by more than 50 minutes, and they underestimate sedentary time by more than two hours. People who use wearable devices may be better able to monitor and hold themselves accountable for their physical activity.
In New York, employers and employees can enroll in UnitedHealthcare Motion, a wellness program in collaboration with Qualcomm Life that links financial incentives to the use of activity trackers. By meeting walking benchmarks related to frequency (300 steps in five minutes; six times a day), intensity (3,000 steps in 30 minutes), and tenacity (10,000+ total daily steps), program participants can earn financial incentives of up to $1,500 per year.
the many health benefits of moving.