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ROCHESTER, NY -- Since the "Eat Well, Live Well Challenge" was rolled out four years ago by Wegmans Food Markets Inc. here for its employees, the positive results have been piling up.
After eight weeks of recording cups of fruits and vegetables eaten and using a pedometer to measure steps taken, with the aim of consuming five cups of fruits and vegetables and taking 10,000 steps a day, participating Wegmans' associates have so far walked a total of 2.1 million miles, the equivalent of walking around the earth 88 times, with an average distance covered by each person of 221 miles, and eaten 1.3 million cups of fruits and vegetables, weighing about 341 tons, with a per-person average of 4.8 cups a day.
"Two out of three American adults are overweight, and obesity is a growing problem for children too," noted Wegmans' nutritionist Jane Andrews in a statement. "Extra pounds can lead to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems. People want healthy habits, but good intentions can be defeated if it's not easy to follow through in daily life. We designed the 'Eat Well, Live Well Challenge' to be easy, fun, and motivational -- so people could stick with the changes for at least eight weeks or, better yet, permanently."
Although those who took part in the challenge weren't required to track their weight, many participants found they had lost pounds or inches by the end of the eight weeks, or had experienced such improvements in their health as lower blood pressure, better cholesterol readings, or less lower back pain. A few employees even quit smoking after completing the challenge.
Since launching the challenge, Wegmans has learned that any health program should have goals that are easy to understand and carry out, and that measuring progress helps people stick to their new regimens.
For people who like to vary their exercise routines, Wegmans has a chart at www.wegmans.com/eatWellLiveWell/ for converting everyday activities into steps. To equal 10,000 steps, for example, a participant could play tennis or swim laps for 50 minutes, or go bicycling or play golf for about 90 minutes. The site also allows participants to submit questions.
Although the challenge was created for employees, individuals who wish to do it can find everything except the pedometer on the Eat Well, Live Well page of of the Wegman's Web site.
Family-owned Wegmans operates 70 supermarkets in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland.