Walk to Wellness: Winter Wrap-Up

Over 150 members of the Columbia community, including officers, support staff, union employees, and graduate students joined the Office of Work/Life for the Walk to Wellness pilot program in summer 2010.  The majority of members cited improving their fitness, energy levels, and losing weight as their primary motivations for joining the program.

Erin Barnes, Associate Director of Work/Life, comes to Columbia with a health and fitness background and coordinated this program as a first step in introducing wellness programs under the Office of Work/Life.   She was overjoyed when over 150 people registered for the pilot program and attended the kick-off event.  At the event, participants were provided with the tools (i.e. pedometers, water bottles, backpacks, goal-setting/tracking booklets, and fitness assessments) to set out towards meeting their health and fitness goals. 

The walking groups, which ranged from 10-30 people per group, met three times a week for 40-minute walks in beautiful, shady Riverside Park for eight-weeks.  Daily walks were preceded with light stretching and were led by the Work/Life and/or Dodge staff.  Walkers receive weekly e-mails via a CU wellness listserv to keep them on track, and pre- and post-fitness assessments were offered.

Anyone who stayed local this summer will concur that this was the hottest July on record. The die-hard walkers didn't let this get in their way! On days when there was a heat advisory or thunderstorms, the group walked the indoor track at the Dodge Fitness Center.

Overall, there was an overwhelmingly positive response to this program which confirmed there is a need and desire for a greater wellness community at Columbia University. Participants were surveyed and the majority of respondents reported that they increased the frequency, duration, and/or intensity of their exercise routine as a result of their participation in the program.

Participants commented "This is what I needed to get motivated to do some type of exercise", "this is a good stress releaser", and "I'm someone that used to sit at my desk and eat lunch, no more!" Many participants also noted that the program provided a unique opportunity to socialize and network with others throughout the University.

The Office of Work/Life offered a modified version of the program in the Fall semester 2010 on the Morningside and Manhattanville campuses with another 125 joiners, and hopes to eventually offer the program at all campuses. Erin Barnes notes, "it's not just a walking program that were trying to build, it's a community of like-minded individuals who can support and encourage one another in their quest for better wellness". 

The Walk to Wellness program is on hiatus for the winter months, but will resume later in the spring. Stay tuned for more information.