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Up for a Walk Anyone?

Up for a Walk Anyone?

I do find that I think more about what I’m eating and how much I exercise because of the HealthTrails™ challenge, and maybe that’s the point.

Janet West
Photo: Left to right: Tina Towle, senior manager, Compliance and Audit; Jean Avery, director of policy support, Compliance and Audit; and Janet West, vice president of Education and Compliance, Operations.

Endless snow, record cold and whipping winds forced many of us indoors this winter, but not Janet West, vice president of Education and Compliance in Operations, whose office is located in Colburn Hill. Even on the coldest of winter days she'd pull on a neck warmer to cover her face, zip up her shin-length puffy down coat, slip on her boots and head out to one of her many on-campus meetings. "I must look like I'm ready for mountain skiing," she says.

Talking the Walk and Walking the Walk

It's not unusual for West to have two or three meetings a day on campus, walking about a half-a-mile between buildings each time. It's all part of a commitment she made a few years ago to walk to every meeting. The decision coincides with the change in the hospital shuttle service. "When it ran every 15 minutes," says West, "it was easier to take the shuttle to meetings. Now that it runs every half-hour, walking is the most efficient way to get to the campus." She also likes to ski and tries to make it to aerobic and kickboxing classes, but that's becoming increasingly difficult; so walking to and from meetings is the only consistent exercise she gets. "I may look like a bag woman when I carry my coat and gear with me all day," she says, "but, I still get my walk in."

Taking the Challenge

It's not the only investment in health she's made. West is finishing up her second Live Well/Work Well sponsored HealthTrails™ challenge, which uses interactive trails to track healthy behaviors. The six week, on-line program challenges participants to exercise 30 minutes a day, to eat five servings of fruit and vegetables, to eat within two hours of getting up, tracking good sleep and staying hydrated. Her daily walking fills the exercise requirement and West has been eating a well balanced diet for years. "My breakfast is always healthy and lunch is as healthy as my leftovers, which usually consist of fruit and vegetables," she says. "I do find that I think more about what I'm eating and how much I exercise because of the challenge, and maybe that's the point."

Healthy Competition

West is among the 2015 employees who signed up for the Winter challenge that ended March 14. "Most of us in Compliance and Audit Services are involved in the HealthTrails™ challenge," says West. "We have a highly motivated group, and we all try to make it fun. People come up with the wildest ideas. One of our staff has two dogs that he's tied up to skis to do some dog skiing. Everyone has something different they're doing for the challenge. We have a nice, healthy competition between our two teams, the Super Dogs and the Super, Duper Dogs–we have a lot of dog owners in our group."

Team Building

"When people head out for a walk they're more apt to ask if anyone wants to join them," says West, "and the answer is more likely to be 'yes' because they're involved in this fitness trail. It's been a great team-building exercise." There's a social benefit as well, says West, who often walks with people she's been wanting to talk to like Vice President of Corporate Finance, Tina Naimie. "I think it's great that the hospital supports this," says West. "I'm able to do all this walking and fitness participation while doing my job and without it affecting my schedule."

Earning Wellness Rewards

There's also a financial incentive to participating in HealthTrails™ as eligible employees can earn $100 towards their Wellness Rewards with completion of the Winter or Spring challenge. "I'm not going to tell you that the credit towards the health insurance isn't a good motivator," says West, "because I think it is. But, I also think we've gotten a lot more out of it than that. It's helped us from a team standpoint giving us reasons to chat, to discover things we have in common and to learn more about each other. And, it's a chance to take a break, because I consider walking a break." And, best of all, "I have more energy, it helps me sleep better, and I feel better overall."

Register for the 2015 Spring HealthTrails ™ challenge

The 2015 Spring HealthTrails™ challenge runs from March 20-April 30. Register online at from March 18-April 10. You'll need your employee ID to

You may complete two separate challenges and be rewarded $100 for each, but you must participate in at least one in order to earn the full $300. The payout of Wellness Rewards occurs June 26, 2015. All items must be completed no later than April 30, and submitted to Health Plans Inc., no later than May 10.