Little Rock, Ark. (July 16, 2013) — Groups from 32 states gathered as today as the winners of the 2013 Blue and You Fitness Challenge were revealed during ceremonies held at the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock.
This is the 10th 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 out what it feels like to be fit’ in the Challenge this year,” said Richard Cooper, vice president of Human Resources for Arkansas Blue Cross. A total of 126 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 8,495 individuals participating in those groups logged 397,232 checkpoints during the contest! To log a checkpoint, participants exercised at least 30 minutes, which translates – at a minimum – to 198,616 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).
Blair Dean, chairman of the Governor’s Council on Fitness, announced the 2013 Challenge winners:
Winners of the 2013 Blue & You Fitness Challenge are:
Group Category 1 (Under 10 participants)
Delta AHEC — Helena, Arkansas
Group Category 2 (10-11 participants)
The Ten Wonders — Clinton, Arkansas
Group Category 3 (12-14 participants)
Arkansas State Plant Board — Little Rock, Arkansas
Group Category 4 (15-16 participants)
National Park Service — St. Paul, Minnesota
Group Category 5 (17-19 participants)
CMI — Little Rock, Arkansas
Group Category 6 (20-23 participants)
ACHI— Little Rock, Arkansas
Group Category 7 (24-29 participants)
Arkansas Best Federal Credit Union — Fort Smith, Arkansas
Group Category 8 (30-39 participants)
Lamar Elementary — Lamar, Arkansas
Group Category 9 (40-60 participants)
Northwest Arkansas Community College — Bentonville, Arkansas
Group Category 10 (61-86 participants)
NucorYamato Steel — Blytheville, Arkansas
Group Category 11 (87-150 participants)
Transportation Security Agency — Little Rock, Arkansas
Group Category 12 (151-275 participants)
Pace Industries — Fayetteville, MO
Group Category 13 (400+ 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.
“Every year has yielded great results for the participants involved,” said John Selig, director of DHS. “Participants had great results again this year and the online survey offered through the contest Web site, provided more comprehensive data that proves that just three months of exercise can make a positive difference in overall health. A total of 1,433 contest participants completed the evaluation – a statistically significant sample – and reported improved fitness levels. Nearly 88 percent of respondents said they reached their personal goals through the Challenge. And that exercise paid off. Nearly 78 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, 22.7 percent said they reached their personal goal to “begin exercising;” 54.1 percent of respondents said they reached their goal to “increase exercising;” and 29.0 percent to “lose weight.”
Respondents also indicated they had lowered their systolic and diastolic blood pressure (40 respondents), cholesterol levels (14 respondents), weight (183 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.
According to Nathaniel Smith, MD, MPH, Arkansas Department of Health Interim Director and State Health Officer, the most recently available statistics show that over eighty percent of Arkansans report an unhealthy level of physical inactivity. “The costs for treating chronic diseases — preventable diseases — are unsustainable, Smith said. “Chronic diseases increase medical expenses and reduce quality of life, and can be prevented by improving our diet, stopping tobacco use, and increasing physical activity. Chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and chronic lower respiratory disease account for 60 percent of all deaths in Arkansas every year. More than 17,000 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.
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 2,700 employees. If combined, the 38 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans collectively provide health care coverage for 93 million 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 7,500 employees 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 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), and the $5 billion Medicaid program, which accounts for the largest part of the department’s annual budget.
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