Tag Archives: healthy workforce

What Did 50,000 Steps at #SHRM16 Look Like?

At the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) annual conference last month, the SHRM Foundation teamed up with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) What did 50,000 steps at SHRM look like?and Fitbit to host an epic step contest. In honor of the SHRM Foundation’s 50th anniversary, participants were challenged to walk 50,000 steps in three days.

What makes the SHRM Foundation’s Step Challenge so exciting and exemplary is its inclusivity. Although fitness-tracker company Fitbit was a partner in the challenge, participants did not need a Fitbit device to participate. Those who had one could use it; others could download the free Fitbit Mobile Track, and anyone who had their own device could use that and report their results. This flexibility allowed a greater number of people to join in the challenge: a whopping 3,500 participants!

Ashlee Smith, director of development for the SHRM Foundation, notes that it wasn’t the number of steps that mattered; it was the camaraderie and how participants felt supported and encouraged. For companies looking to increase employee health and wellness, such a step contest provides an excellent model for how to get and keep people involved. Smith notes three factors for success that any organization can replicate:

Ensure that everyone can participate

Choose a challenge that doesn’t exclude people who don’t have a specific product, and consider setting different step goals, so that everyone can participate.

Encourage and build a community

The Step Challenge hash tag, #SHRM16Steps, gave all participants an opportunity to talk about the challenge and celebrate their hard work. Additionally, participants using the Fitbit app were added to a team where they could chat with other teammates and encourage each other. This type of camaraderie is crucial to encouraging a sense of teamwork and fun competition.

Plan the celebration(s)

Every step (pun intended) of the SHRM Foundation Step Challenge was meant to be fun and encouraging. Participants could pick up badges and ribbons to show their completion of 15,000 and 30,000 steps, and then all participants received a Step Challenge medal at the end of the challenge. Company-wide challenges could end with a victory party featuring healthy foods and some sharing of ideas for healthy living.

USConnect is proud to help HR professionals promote a healthy workplace. For more on “Making the Connection: Healthy Food, Healthy Workforce,” check out our staff nutritionist’s new video!

Happy stepping!


Healthier Eating – You Are When You Eat.

Check Your Clock Before You Take Your Next Bite.

Food is food, and calories are calories, right? Not so fast! A number of recent studies suggest that when you eat is as important as what you eat.

When it comes to healthier eating, when you eat is as important as where you eat.

A 2012 study tested two groups of mice, both of which were given the same amount of high-fat, high-calorie food. One group could eat around the clock, while the other could only eat for 16 hours a day. Even though both groups consumed the exact same amount of the exact same foods, the group that fasted for eight hours were almost 40 percent leaner than the around-the-clock eaters.

The 24-hour eaters also developed high cholesterol and blood sugar, liver problems, and other metabolic diseases associated with obesity. A 2015 follow-up study showed that mice on an even longer time-restricted diet—being allowed to eat for only nine to twelve hours per day—had even better results.

Of course, what works for mice might not work for humans, so researchers have been performing studies to determine if these results can help people make healthier eating choices. Early signs look good not just for correlation, but for causation as well; specifically, human circadian rhythms have evolved to help us do a better job of processing calories and fat earlier in the day, rather than later.

A 2013 study in Spain found that people who ate a large lunch later in the day lost less weight and lost it more slowly  than people who ate a large lunch earlier in the day. Other studies have tied nighttime fasting to improved glycemic regulation: that is, a person’s ability to regulate blood-sugar levels.

A 2015 study tied nightly fasting to a lower risk of breast cancer, and a 2016 study at Harvard Medical School found that shift workers who often have to invert their schedules and eat at night and fast during the day had a lowered glucose tolerance.

So what does this mean for you? To start, cut out the midnight snacks and late-night dinners. Whenever possible, eat your biggest meals before 3:00 pm and then begin to taper down. In order to lose significant weight, the calculus of “calories in” versus “calories out” still applies, but aligning your diet with your circadian rhythms will help you work with your body instead of against it.