Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 20, 2013

Weighing a healthier lifestyle

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Healthier workers make for a healthier workplace and a healthier community.

That’s why United Way of Northwest Michigan again joined with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to encourage area workers to accept a challenge to lead healthier lives.

The Live Healthy Live United 365 Workplace Challenge offers participants the opportunity to increase their physical activity, make healthy lifestyle changes and contribute to their community, all while earning points for their employer’s team.

“Any business in northwest Michigan can compete, and additionally this year, individuals can participate, as well,” said Michelle Krum, fund development director and Workplace Challenge coordinator for United Way in Traverse City.

Throughout the eight-week challenge, beginning Sept. 16 through Nov. 11, employees record physical activity and healthy lifestyle behaviors on the Blue Cross Blue Shield Walking Works website. Employees also may donate volunteer hours to add to their team’s point total.

“Many wellness programs only concentrate on physical and nutritional wellness; we wanted to take a holistic approach and include community wellness,” Krum said.

Sarah Shimek, employee wellness coordinator at Northwestern Michigan College, said she looks forward to the camaraderie that working as a team brings to her organization.

“It is encouraging to hear people talking about cutting down on salt and caffeine, setting up times to walk together,” she said.

Shimek will cheer on her team by sharing nutritional and lifestyle tips and stories of success in a bi-weekly team newsletter. She is hoping the challenge will spark a continued interest in building a culture of wellness at NMC.

NMC is one of the 16 businesses that participated in last year’s challenge. Krum hopes to see even more participants this year.

“Throughout the eight weeks, individual prizes are drawn with a grand prize for the winning team,” Krum said.

Upon completion of the challenge, the team logging the highest average wellness mile points per participant will have $3,000 donated by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to the United Way Community Fund in their name.

Employees of businesses located in Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, and Leelanau counties are welcome to participate. For more information, call the United Way of Northwest Michigan at 947-3200.