Little Rock, Ark. (July 16, 2012) — Groups from 32 states gathered as the “friends of fitness” were revealed as winners of the 2012 Blue and You Fitness Challenge during ceremonies held today at the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock.
This is the ninth year for the Blue and You Fitness Challenge, an exercise contest held annually March 1 through May 31. In addition to the Challenge hosts – Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) and the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) — representatives from other companies, organizations and state agencies statewide (and outside of Arkansas) joined in the competition and were recognized at the awards ceremonies (a complete list of companies/groups follows).
As Challenge participants exercised their way virtually across the United States, they could receive daily motivational messages by following the Challenge on Facebook® and Twitter. Winners from this year’s Challenge and pictures from the media conference will be posted today on Facebook and the contest Web site.
“Thousands of Americans decided to boost their fitness routine and find a “friend in fitness” to help keep them motivated in the Challenge this year,” said Richard Cooper, vice president of Human Resources for Arkansas Blue Cross. A total of 139 groups representing large and small companies, banks, schools and universities, physician offices, churches, hospitals and state agencies made a commitment to fitness by spending some time exercising with friends and reaping the rewards of better fitness. “The 9,525 individuals participating in those groups logged 457,949 checkpoints during the contest! To log a checkpoint, participants exercised at least 30 minutes, which translates – at a minimum – to 228,975 hours of exercise during the Challenge!”
Four measures determined the winners of the Challenge: 1 – Goal Participation (percentage of participants meeting/exceeding 30 checkpoints; 35 points); 2 – Exercise Frequency (average number of checkpoints per participant; 35 points); 3 – Overall Participation (percent of eligible population participating; 20 points); and 4 – Persistency Rate (lowest rate of nonstarters; 10 points). The highest scoring group on a single item earned the points assigned to that measure and was the “winner” of that measure. The group earning the most cumulative points was declared the overall winner (in each group size category).
Gina Pharis, a member of the Governor’s Council on Fitness and executive director of the Little Rock Marathon, announced the 2012 Challenge winners:
Winners of the 2012 Blue & You Fitness Challenge are:
Group Category 1 (2-5 participants)
Jefferson County — Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Group Category 2 (6-9 participants)
Arkansas Education Association — Little Rock, Arkansas
Group Category 3 (10-11 participants)
Boys and Girls Club — Alma, Arkansas
Group Category 4 (12 participants)
The RoArk Group — Rogers, Arkansas
Group Category 5 (13 participants)
National Park Service — St. Paul, MN
Group Category 6 (14 participants) - TIE
Eagle Heights Elementary — Harrison, Arkansas
UAMS AHEC Northeast — Jonesboro, Arkansas
Group Category 7 (15-16 participants)
SFLIC — Hot Springs, Arkansas
Group Category 8 (17-18 participants)
Arkansas State Plant Board — Little Rock, Arkansas
Group Category 9 (19-20 participants)
Alliance Rubber Company — Hot Springs, Arkansas
Group Category 10 (21-24 participants)
Harrisburg Middle School — Harrisburg, Arkansas
Group Category 11 (25-28 participants)
Ben E. Keith Foods — North Little Rock, Arkansas
Group Category 12 (29-36 participants)
Northrop Grumman CEO — St. Charles, MO
Group Category 13 (37-43 participants) - TIE
Keruso — Berryville, Arkansas
Lamar Elementary School, Lamar Arkansas
Group Category 14 (44-60 participants)
Lamar High School — Lamar, Arkansas
Group Category 15 (61-80 participants)
Nucor Yamato Steel — Blytheville, Arkansas
Group Category 16 (81-95 participants)
Administrative Office of the Courts — Little Rock, Arkansas
Group Category 17 (96-138 participants)
Red River Credit Union — Texarkana, Arkansas
Group Category 18 (139-234 participants)
Transportation Security Agency — Little Rock, Arkansas
Group Category 19 (235+ participants)
Simmons First National Bank — Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Runners-up prize winners (fitness-related gift bags and gift cards):
In addition to being recognized as top achievers, Blue and You Fitness Challenge participants reaped health and fitness rewards.
“The first eight years of the Challenge yielded great results for the participants involved,” said John Selig, director of DHS. “These positive numbers have continued this year and with the online survey offered through the contest Web site, we have even more comprehensive data. A total of 1,915 contest participants completed the evaluation – a statistically significant sample – and reported improved fitness levels. Almost 88 percent of respondents said they reached their personal goals through the Challenge. And demonstrating that they see the link between regular exercise and good health, nearly 76 percent of the survey participants said their health has improved since completing the Blue & You Fitness Challenge.” The following percentage of survey respondents indicated their levels of exercise below:
Of the respondents, 20.8 percent said they reached their personal goal to “begin exercising;” 57.1 percent of respondents said they reached their goal to “increase exercising;” and 29.5 percent to “lose weight.”
Respondents also indicated they had lowered their systolic and diastolic blood pressure (52 respondents), cholesterol levels (16 respondents), weight (238 respondents), and blood sugar (20 respondents) during the contest. Of those responding, 99 percent said they would participate in future programs like the Blue and You Fitness Challenge.
Paul K. Halverson, DrPH, F.A.C.H.E., State Health Officer and Director, Arkansas Department of Health, said, “The costs for treating chronic diseases - preventable diseases - are unsustainable. Chronic diseases increase medical expenses and reduce quality of life. Heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and chronic lower respiratory disease account for 64 percent of all deaths in Arkansas every year. More than 18,000 Arkansans die each year as the result of chronic diseases and most of these illnesses are preventable.”
“Participants told us that the Challenge inspired them to quit smoking, eat better, lose weight, get the family involved, even participate in activities they never dreamed they could,” Cooper said. “Our desire is to meet people right where they are and get them started down the road to better health, better self-esteem and a better life. We are particularly excited about our growing student involvement and recognize that starting healthy habits at a young age can lead to happier, healthier, more productive lives in adulthood and, someday in the workplace.”
The Blue and You Fitness Challenge was started in 2004 by Arkansas Blue Cross and the Arkansas Department of Health to encourage employees to work toward the public health recommendation of adult physical activity 30 minutes each day, most days of the week.
For more information about the Blue and You Fitness Challenge, log on to BlueAndYouFitnessChallenge-ark.com. To help companies prepare for their own competitions, an Employee Fitness Contest Kit, a complete guide to organizing an employee competition, is available free by calling: 1-800-686-2609 (Arkansas Blue Cross) or stopping by the nearest Arkansas Blue Cross office.
The Kit may be downloaded as PDFs at any one of the following Web sites:
Founded in 1948, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is the largest health insurer in Arkansas. Arkansas Blue Cross and its affiliates have more than 2,800 employees. If combined, the 38 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans collectively provide health care coverage for 100 million — nearly one in three — Americans.
The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is a centralized health department, operating units in each of the state’s 75 counties. County governments provide facilities and support for the clinical, environmental and home health services offered by the agency. The mission of the Department is to promote public health policies and practices that assure a healthy quality of life for Arkansans. ADH works to protect, improve and promote the health of all Arkansans with the support of more than 5,000 dedicated employees and public and private partners. During each year, Department employees monitor and investigate public health diseases and threats, provide preventive and personal health services in clinical and in-home settings, provide education and enforce laws and regulations, support Hometown Health Improvement, promote healthy behaviors, respond to public health emergencies and educate and monitor industries that impact the public’s health.
The Arkansas Department of Human Services provides a wide range of social services to more than a million Arkansas citizens each year through its programs and private providers. DHS is the largest department of the executive branch of state government. It has more than 7,000 employees a and consists of ten divisions and four support offices. DHS maintains offices in each of the state’s 75 counties where a person can apply for all the services DHS offers. Services are provided to people from all walks of life and all ages. Major programs, which fall under the Arkansas Department of Human Services, include the federal Food Stamp program and the Medicaid program, which accounts for the largest part of the department’s $4 billion annual budget.
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