February 8, 2013

Walk to your Summer Vacation!

VALDOSTA – Monday, Feb. 11, marks the start of Valdosta State University’s sixth annual Shape Up & Ship Out walking contest. The 11-week contest allows faculty,  staff, students, retirees and alumni to track their walking miles and become eligible for a three-day cruise for two.

“Walking is the gateway to a healthier lifestyle,” said Ernest Smith, coordinator for the contest. “The contest encourages everyone to walk for the chance of winning a vacation, but it also promotes walking for the sake of their health and wellness.”

Participants who reach 231 miles are entered into a drawing for the cruise. Other prizes are awarded to participants who meet other walking levels throughout the contest. Incentives include gift cards, gym memberships, t-shirts, Wild Adventures passes and discounts for the VSU Bookstore and Tech Shop.

Last year’s Shape Up & Ship Out winner, Lora Backes, said that the contest helped change her and her husband’s lifestyle. Backes, assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Sciences Disorders, and her husband, Dr. Charles Backes, professor in the Department of Adult and Career Education, started participating in the contest three years ago and have, since, gotten involved in various other walking and running activities.

“Before joining the walking club and entering the contest, we hardly ever exercised,” said Backes. “However, it has become a routine now.”

During last year’s competition, she walked more than 250 miles and her husband walked more than 300 miles.

“The pedometer that we were provided definitely made us more aware of the miles we were walking,” she said. “As a result, we would make conscious efforts to get more miles in by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking a little further from the office.”

Backes added that her husband joined the university’s recreation center, while she joined other faculty members to walk during breaks.

“I encourage anyone who is serious about improving their health to get involved in this because it just makes you feel better and you lose weight without much effort,” she said.

Backes and her husband will enjoy their three-day cruise during spring break this year.

To enter the walking contest, participants must pay the $8 entry fee (cash or check made out to VSU Foundation) and sign up in the Employee and Organizational Development office. The office is located in the University Center- North, room 3103. Participants can also join the walking club online.

Pedometers will be given to those who need to help track their miles. The walking club has an online database that allows participants to log their miles daily. Weekly progress reports are also shared on the web site.

The contest will close with a celebration party on Tuesday, April 30. During this event the winner of the cruise will be announced.

For more information, call (229) 259-5105 or visit http://ww2.valdosta.edu/finadmin/wellness/contest2013.shtml .