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Florida Conference Office Staff Walks Nearly 8,000 Miles

posted on June 26, 2013, under Conference by

by Gladys Neigel

How do you get sedentary people to begin some kind of fitness regime? This was the quandary of Joe Holloway, Florida Conference Health Ministries Director, when he thought of the people who work at their desks every day in the Winter Park headquarters.

During the past few years, Holloway has managed to get more employees to eat properly through programs his department has sponsored, such as CHIP and CREATION Health. Now, he was ready to initiate a fitness program with participation being the key. Thus, Tour of Italy was born.

With the help of a Wellness Committee, plans began to evolve. The replica of a full-size human skeleton appeared in the lobby with the upcoming eight-week program poster. Eight teams were formed with each group choosing one of four Italian cities as their destination of a circuitous walking route starting in Rome. The number of participants continued to grow until more than 60% of the employees were involved.

The Tour of Italy genre was to be a “no guilt zone,” said team leader Kim Johnson. “It’s not how much you do. Everyone is a champion. You are successful if you simply participate and walk.”

Team leaders became encouragers by organizing a group walk during a ten-minute break in the mornings, writing notes of praise upon receiving weekly totals, and sending YouTube videos to walkers featuring the Italian countryside.

The results of the program were life changing. Participants collectively walked a total of 7,972 miles and lost 175 pounds. Many reduced their blood pressure and had incentive to get off medication while deepening friendships with coworkers.

“My blood pressure medicine has been lowered, and my goal is to soon be off it completely,” says team leader Shawn Hayden. “I thank God for this, and walking is something I have added to my lifestyle. I’ll be walking until I walk into the kingdom, and at that point, I will fly.”

Walking for wellness continues with Florida Conference employees. “We’re going to kick off a new program this fall, right after Labor Day,” says Holloway. “Next, we’re going to Japan on a journey that will be different and exciting.”

“The camaraderie you experience in a walking group and the shared fitness success can help you walk your way to better health.” —Mayo Clinic

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