Health and Family Services Cabinet
Cabinet for Health and Family Services employees walk the walk to better health
FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 9, 2005) -- Frankfort-based employees of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services crossed the state of Kentucky more than 300 times in the last eight weeks – at about 420 miles per one-way trip, they collectively traveled more than 130,000 miles.
Their itchy feet were impelled by the inaugural pilot project of the cabinet’s worksite health and wellness initiative, patterned after the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service’s highly successful physical activity campaign called Get Moving Kentucky!
Today, CHFS celebrated completion of the program with a final one-mile group walk, awards ceremony and cookout at its headquarters. First Lady Glenna Fletcher and CHFS Secretary James W. Holsinger Jr., M.D., hosted the event and offered their congratulations to program participants, encouraging CHFS employees to continue the progress made and good habits begun during the program.
The core goal of Get Moving Kentucky! – to increase participants’ physical activity levels – was adapted by the cabinet to maximize results with consideration given to cabinet structure and related factors. The resulting program, Get Moving CHFS!, was, by all quantifiable measures, an unqualified success.
A total of 193 four-person teams plus individual participants – a total of 838 CHFS Frankfort-based employees – signed up for the program and recorded their daily and weekly physical activity output with the goal of achieving team totals of at least 420 miles worth of exercise over the course of the campaign.
Physical activity levels were measured in Physical Activity Miles (PAMs). One PAM equals walking one mile (about 2,000 steps) or 15 minutes of other types of physical activity intense enough to raise heart and respiration rates. Pedometers kept track of steps taken and miles covered each day, but many Get Moving CHFS! participants accrued PAMs by combining walking with other forms of exercise.
CHFS employees walked, ran, cycled, played team sports, swam, gardened, did calisthenics and aerobics, worked out at gyms and health clubs, and engaged in dozens of other calorie-burning, cardio-boosting activities to achieve their daily and weekly PAM totals.
Preliminary results of a participant survey currently being conducted to evaluate the program and help guide future efforts have already revealed some impressive outcomes and interesting responses.
In response to the question “What motivated you to participate in the Get Moving CHFS! program?” survey respondents most frequently cited weight loss and because a colleague asked them to participate. Only 15 percent indicated that they would prefer to participate as individuals rather than as part of a team in future health and wellness programs.
“We chose Get Moving Kentucky! as our program model because it takes a team approach to physical activity,” Holsinger said. “Partner support is effective in efforts to increase physical activity because you’re less likely to miss an exercise session when a partner is expecting you, and the added encouragement and motivation among exercise partners helps sustain enthusiasm. A lot of people just find exercising with a partner or as part of a team is more fun and less of a chore than solitary exercise.”
Improving cardiovascular fitness, just for the fun of it, and to set an example were also among the top motivators cited among program participants.
Eighty-two percent of respondents indicated the program encouraged them to increase their physical activity levels, and an overwhelming 96 percent of those responding to the survey indicated they plan to maintain or improve their physical activity levels after the program ends. Prospects for wide participation in future cabinet-sponsored health and wellness programs are also good, with 80 percent indicating they would participate.
CHFS Deputy Secretary Delanor Manson, chief coordinator of the cabinet’s health and wellness promotion, said she’s delighted with the success of Get Moving CHFS!
“Our employees really get it – that a healthy, active lifestyle enhances all aspects of life, from just feeling better, being more productive and enjoying a more positive mind-set to the actual disease prevention and physical fitness benefits,” Manson said. “The support employees have shown for this program is tremendously gratifying.”
While this initial worksite health and wellness pilot project was based in Frankfort, Manson said the cabinet’s goal is to roll out the initiative among its employees statewide.
The physical activity component of the CHFS Worksite Health and Wellness promotion will be followed by a five-week emphasis on nutrition, incorporating aspects of the nationally recognized “5 A Day Challenge” to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, ideally in place of less healthy diet choices.
The cabinet will launch its “5 A Day Challenge” July 5. During the interim, the cabinet will sponsor lunchtime education and information sessions and other activities for employees focusing on topics including smoking cessation and stress reduction.