Penn Wellness Challenge helps employees stay fit

Quicker than you can say “Girl Scout cookie,” your well-intentioned New Year’s resolution to get in shape and eat healthier can start fading. But have no fear, the Penn Wellness Challenge is (almost) here to help you stick to your goals. 

Sponsored by the Division of Human Resources (HR), the eight-week program kicks off on Monday, Feb. 20, and runs through Sunday, April 15. All benefits-eligible employees can participate.

The program helps individuals make small changes to improve their lives through regular exercise and proper nutrition. Each week of the contest presents a different activity to complete—eating a healthy breakfast, trying new exercise activities, adding fruits and vegetables to meals—small changes that can lead to big results. Motivational emails will be sent to participants to encourage them to stick with the program.              

Each registrant will be expected to complete each challenge by tracking daily nutrition and activities online or in a Wellness Challenge booklet. Incentive gifts at the beginning and end of the Challenge, plus chances to win prizes, are being offered as an added bonus. 

“When [eligible employees] register, we’re giving them exercise bands with handles to do stretches at their desks,” says HR’s Health Promotion Program Administrator Suzanne Smith, who is coordinating the Challenge. “Each week they complete one of the challenges, they’ll be entered into a drawing to win one of three raffle prizes: an Apple iPod nano, iPod Touch, or iPad2. We have 350 people who’ve signed up so far.”

Once eligible employees register online, they can stop by an orientation session to pick up their start-up materials and ask questions. The information sessions will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 14 in the Business Services Division; on Feb. 15 in Wharton’s Steinberg-Dietrich Hall; and on Feb. 16 in the lower level lobby of the Penn Nursing’s Fagin Hall. Employees should contact Smith at 215-898-5116 or if they are unable to attend any of the orientation sessions.

Smith says employees can accomplish a lot in just eight weeks. 

“At the end of the Challenge, we’re not expecting to see huge drops in cholesterol, or for someone to be able to run a marathon,” she says. “But what we’ll have are healthier and happier employees.”

For more information on the Penn Wellness Challenge and orientation locations, visit the HR website.