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Fall Health Trails Challenge encourages a path to better health

Fall 2017 Health Trails Challenge
UNG President Bonita Jacobs, second from left, encourages participants in the first Health Trails Kick-off Walk on the Dahlonega Campus March 20.

Building on the success of the inaugural Health Trails challenge in the spring, the University System of Georgia (USG) and the University of North Georgia (UNG) have followed up with the Fall 2017 Health Trails & Financial IQ Systemwide Challenge.

The challenge, which began Oct. 2 and runs through Nov. 12, is designed to encourage participants to follow a path to better physical and financial health.

HealthTrails is a well-being program that draws on the excitement of seeing and learning about new places and people by tracing famous trails around the world. Participants move along the trail by accruing points from recording exercise through a tracking device or online. As participants progress, they see great images and vivid descriptions of that location.

The six-week HealthTrails Challenge is a competition among all 28 USG institutions and the system main office. All benefit-eligible employees may compete by logging steps through virtual global destinations with the goal of earning 300-plus virtual miles (6,000 steps daily, five days a week, with a maximum of 25,000 daily, seven days a week) and expressions of gratitude (a goal of one daily, four days a week and a maximum of one daily seven days a week.) An expression of gratitude can include sending a note of thanks to a colleague, writing in a journal, or a verbal expression of thanks.

Each USG institution has the option of forming multiple teams. The objective of team participation is to reinforce healthy habits with a friendly competition that emphasizes the overall goals of HealthTrails. The team competition runs from Oct. 2 to Nov. 12; to have a team individual's activity count toward his other team’s score, all activity must be logged by Nov. 15.

A Financial IQ challenge, sponsored by financial services organization Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA), has been added for the fall challenge. There are 15 financial-related quizzes in the challenge, and a maximum of one per week will count toward a participant's movement on the trail. Five winners from each USG institution will be randomly selected at the end of the challenge. All participants are automatically entered to win TIAA promotional gear every time a quiz is completed.

"The USG office recognizes all aspects of wellness and wanted to incorporate the financial portion into the challenge," said Sabrina Wall, human resources benefit specialist and Well-Being liaison at UNG.

Participants have the option to use Fitbit or Jawbone to track daily steps, and sync their device with their HealthTrails account or the app; participants can also log their progress manually. A Fitbit subsidy is available for employees who do not currently own a tracking device and have not previously received a USG Fitbit subsidy. Employees eligible for the Fitbit subsidy will receive an email following their registration.

Participants from the winning institution will be treated to lunch and presented with the USG Well-Being Traveling Trophy.

The spring's winning institution, Bainbridge State College (BSC), was determined by the median number of miles each person walked. BSC had 32 participants averaging 757 miles per person (24,229.6 miles total). UNG finished 13th in the competition, with 463 participants walking an average of 496 miles each, covering a total distance of 229,587.

"Wellness is not all about the body," Wall said. "It has more components that we deal with on a daily basis, such as mind, soul, occupation, spirituality, finance, social, and intellectual."

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