It can be tricky to find the motivation to exercise, especially when the entire day is spent at the office.
The U.S. General Services Administration at the Federal Center is giving employees a chance to get up and about during the day with its three-month-long Step It Up Program.
“The GSA gets some of the highest scores in the country on employee engagement, and part of that’s because of our culture here,” said Sue Damour, regional administrator for the Rocky Mountain region. “Health and wellness is not just physical health, but emotional as well, and these walks address both.”
The Step It Up program was launched by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, and at the Federal Center, it has been used to not only increase health but collaboration and education.
Throughout the week there are three different levels of walks available to employees and the general public — gentle, topical and exercise.
The topical walks feature experts in health and wellness, who provide information on healthy living strategies during the walks. The exercise walks are brisker and for those who want to get more of a workout.
Information provided by Sally Mayberry, regional public affairs officer, said that since the program began on Sept. 22, 53 people have participated and walked around 53 miles. Each walk is typically around 20 to 30 minutes.
“Not only do these walks build better health, but they build better collaborations and relationships,” Damour said. “The social aspect of it is a great way to encourage people to actually change their behaviors.”
The GSA has partnered with St. Anthony Hospital and Walk 2 Connect, an organization dedicated to increasing awareness of the benefits of walking.
According to Rachel Hutlin, program director for Walk 2 Connect, the organization is providing incentives like Fitbits and other prizes to encourage Federal Center employees to participate.
“We have trained six volunteer trip leaders, so these walks can be led by employees’ peers,” Hutlin said. “We have some great champions here who will keep moving the program forward.”
One of the best things about the program, according to participants, is the easy access and short time the walks take.
“It’s hard to get active when you’re at work,” said GSA employee Danielle Bradley, during a walk on Oct. 1. “This is nice for changing that.”
Tanya Burks, another GSA employee participating in the walks, added that they help break up the day.
“It’s a nice way to get a little reset by walking outside,” she said.
There is plenty of space for the program to continue inside as the weather gets colder, and the main goal is make this kind of activity a habit for everyone.
“The focus isn’t just on fitness — it’s a whole health outcome we’re looking at,” Hutlin said. “The social component deepens the connection, and that’s what keeps people participating.”