Registration opens today for the ninth annual Active U program, the 12-week physical activity challenge for all university faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students, retirees and employee spouses/other qualified adults. Sign up by Jan. 14 and track physical activity Jan. 14-Apr. 7.
Last year, Active U had its biggest year to date, with more than 16,000 participants logging more than 30 million activity minutes. For 2014, MHealthy has challenged participants to reach 35 million minutes.
“Over the years, we’ve learned that our Active U participants love a challenge,” says Colleen Greene, MHealthy senior wellness coordinator. “Last year everyone stepped up and exceeded the 30 million goal. We want to continue the momentum toward moving more, so this year we set the bar a bit higher to achieve a cumulative goal of 35 million minutes.”
Ginny Zarras says she has participated in Active U each year since 2007 because it motivates her and her colleagues to start the new year exercising and moving.
“I love the camaraderie of working toward a goal of minutes with co-workers as well as a little friendly competition,” says Zarras, human resource director at UM-Dearborn. “The tracker also keeps me honest and motivates me to find ways to fit activity into my daily routine.”
New program features include:
• Blue track option — Active U 2014 offers a new physical activity option for those who may be just starting to exercise or haven’t been active in a while. First introduced this fall during Active U Autumn, the new “Blue Track” encourages participants to exercise at least three days a week and gradually build up their activity over the 12-week program. Active U’s standard Maize Track (exercising at least 30 minutes a day, at least three days per week) will remain an option for all participants.
• iOS app for iPhones and iPads — Starting in January, download the Active U app on your iOS device to log activity minutes while exercising, check team standings, email teammates and more.
“We’ve heard very positive feedback about offering an alternative physical activity track for those who might be new to exercise,” says Greene. “For someone just starting out, 30 minutes a day may seem like too much. Participants who chose the Blue Track start off exercising for only 20 minutes, then can gradually build up to 30 or more minutes. We also remind participants that exercise can be broken down into 10-minute increments, two to three times a day.”
Other popular program features include:
• Participate as an individual, a twosome or on a team.
• Participate with a spouse/OQA, even if he or she is not a U-M employee.
• Track physical activity minutes and challenge yourself to meet your weekly activity goal. Track online or using a mobile device.
• Opportunity to win prizes by logging activity each week.
• Earn virtual badges and share success by reaching program milestones such as achieving weekly goals, reaching 1,000 activity minutes and more.
• Support a U-M school, college, fund or other area-of-choice by donating through U-M Giving.
• Successfully complete Active U to earn a 2014 T-shirt (free to employees; small fee for spouses/OQAs, undergraduate students and retirees).