Team White Sands Missile Range received first place recognition in a 12-week Installation Management Command Walking Challenge for 100 percent participation.
The team competed against other IMCOM teams, including teams from installations that almost quadruple WSMR’s base camp size. The second place winner was Team IMCOM.
“I thought maybe we could take fourth or fifth place, not first,” said Bell Gym Fitness Program Specialist Dawn Armstrong. “The team participation made us come together. We deserve this recognition.”
At the beginning of the 12-week challenge, the team ranked 13th place, midway through the challenge, the team had a surge of participants which helped with the documentation of steps. Team WSMR was made up of 36 walkers who averaged 66,963 steps per person, per day. The team totaled 29,129,077 steps throughout the challenge. The Surgeon General’s recommendation is to walk 10,000 steps per day or 70,000 steps per week. The team is made up of participants from McAfee, civilians from throughout the installation, family members and Soldiers.
“We should be proud of the fact that we came together,” Armstrong said. “We have team spirit and we believe in each other and we believe we can get healthy.”
Team WSMR was first for the last three weeks in the challenge. Armstrong said they are the only team with 100 percent participation in the recent weeks. She credits word of mouth for the increase in participation. She also announced an incentive for Wellness Program participants, the program which allows for civilians to work out for a set of hours during the week, who also participated in the program.
Paul Smith, IMCOM Civilian Wellness Program coordinator said Team WSMR did a remarkable job of marketing the 12-week walking challenge. He said Armstrong volunteered to be the team leader and soon after they experienced numerous enrollments for team WSMR. Throughout the challenge Smith sends out information on health and wellness to challenge participants. At the core of all of the information he sends out Smith said the most important information he wants participants to walk away with is that walking and physical fitness in general helps reduce the risk of dying of coronary heart disease and decreases the risk for certain cancers, diabetes and high blood pressure. It can also help the way you feel and dissolve feelings of tiredness and boredom.
“You don’t need to join an expensive gym or commit to a rigorous exercise or training routine,” Smith said. “You can incorporate physical activity habits into your life, step by step.”
He said walking is often something people do for leisure or social reasons so some people have a hard time thinking of walking as a serious form of exercise. However, a recent study on middle-aged women found that taking at least 10,000 steps a day can help keep weight under control and decrease the risk of overweight-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
“Knowing and tracking one’s steps per day can help our workforce make healthy life style choices,” he said.
“Physical fitness is a key component in living a long and healthy life.”
Israel Aviles, a WSMR employee who joined the walking program midway through the challenge and is also a Wellness Program participant, said he joined because he was approached by a fellow co-worker who told him about the challenge.
“Since he knew that I love the gym, I love running and I love walking, he told me about it,” Aviles said.
He said he joined because he’s loved being active ever since he was in junior high and continues to look for new challenges.
“This is fun and healthy and we all have fun doing it,” Aviles said. “Nobody (ever) asks who came in second, so we root for the first place.”
Aviles is also competing in a national IMCOM challenge that only lasts a week and is individual based. He said he hopes more people will join the program for the new challenge because it is something anyone can do. Aviles walks with his wife and their dog and they still have time to come home, eat dinner and watch a movie. Though the challenges don’t give out prizes to the winners, they do give the winning team bragging rights.
“I’m very thankful for everyone who supported this just to show our team spirit,” Armstrong said. “We collectively believe in each other.”
She also credits Smith for his recruitment efforts for the challenge and his positive reinforcement during the challenge.
“He made sure our teams participated and he made sure to acknowledge us and thank the leaders within each team,” Armstrong said.
The next 12-week walking challenge began Oct. 30 and will run through Jan. 21.
If you wish to join the walking program, e-mail Paul Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.