HEALTH & FITNESS
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Theresa Simmons, Sarah Rauscher, and Leah Meyer make their way around Salvation Army parking lot area in Manoa.
Walking club pays off on the job
The Salvation Army rewards participants with extra days off for reaching milestones
Employees at the Salvation Army take walking seriously. Not only do they receive the health benefits, but also an opportunity to earn days off.
"There is so much to gain on an individual level," said Jean Raasch, human resources manager. Her list included stress management, weight control, decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, management of high blood pressure, elevation of mood and improved self-image.
Club member Theresa Simmons tries to walk five days a week. "It's great to get out of the office and get some fresh air. It gives me a chance to rejuvenate and recharge," she said. "And, I don't feel so guilty about that Oreo cookie."
The Salvation Army Divisional Headquarters began the program in 2004 to promote a healthy work force. A half-mile route was charted on the Manoa property. The recommendation is that members walk at least three times per week during breaks on work days. The limit is two miles per day.
One of the biggest perks: earning days off for walking. Employees can earn as many as four additional vacation days. The first 50 miles earns one day; the second 50 miles earns a second day. They walk an additional 75 miles for the third day and 100 miles for the fourth. Currently the club has about 20 members out of 47 employees.
The main reason Leah Meyer joined the club was for the extra days off. "It's nice to get a couple extra vacation days. My family is on the mainland, and it gives me extra time to spend with them," she said. "Plus, if I didn't walk, I wouldn't take my break."
Socialization is another positive aspect. Walking-club members are encouraged to walk with co-workers from different departments to get to know them better.
"I look forward to it and have a good time," said Jeannie Ing. The walking has provided "more energy to get up and go." Ing religiously tries to complete at least one mile per day. She has also started hanging out with some friends after work exercising with instructional videotapes or just walking some extra miles. "It has really motivated us to seek other activity," she said.
Raasch added, "The program has been a huge success. The practice of regular walking is one of the safest and most effective tools in preventative health care."