Faculty Walking Challenge Helps Raise Cancer Awareness

Millions of steps will be counted on pedometers for a health initiative that the Mercer University wellness program will hold.

This year, the faculty and staff wellness program is putting on the event to raise awareness for cancer prevention.

The 10 Million Steps Challenge urges faculty and staff who are participating to walk 5,000 steps every day and together to walk a total of 10 million steps during the 4-week program.

“It is a four week walking challenge that is meant to lead up to the Susan G. Komen Georgia Race for the Cure,” said Rachel Long, director of employee wellness at Mercer, who is also participating in the challenge.

The registration for the challenge had to be extended due to the number of people who wanted to sign up. A total of 115 faculty and staff members are participating.

“The participants each have a pedometer that the wellness team gave them,” Long said. “After each day they are asked to log their steps into an online document, and each week I look at the spreadsheet to see the numbers.”

Faculty and staff members also have incentives to log more steps than are recommended so that their name gets thrown into the hat for fun raffle prizes.

“If you reach 35,000 steps in a week, you get a bonus,” Long said.

The faculty wellness program at Mercer puts on various events throughout the year to ensure that faculty and staff are staying active.

“Our premise throughout the year is to educate that eating healthy and managing your weight can help reduce your risk for cancer,” Long said. “In fact, the American Cancer Society reports that being physically active may reduce your risk of breast cancer by 30 percent.”

The primary year-round program is the Healthy You campaign, which has faculty and staff log their exercises and activity for Healthy You points.

More than 50 percent of Mercer’s faculty and staff are registered for this program.

“We are really happy with all of the participation that we have gotten this year in all of our wellness programs,” Long said.

The overall mission of the wellness program here at Mercer is to increase physical activity.

“We know the more people we can get to be active, the less they will be at risk for hypertension, high cholesterol and other health risks,” Long said.