When Angela Allen was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, she decided to start focusing more on her health in order to build strength both mentally and physically.

“At the time, my weight status was morbidly obese,” says Allen, a lecturer IV of chemistry in the UM-Dearborn College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters. “Once I completed my treatment, it was imperative to begin losing weight. Active U motivated me to get moving and keep moving.”

Active U motivated Angela Allen to get moving and to lose weight. (Photo courtesy of MHealthy)

Since 2006, tens of thousands of people have participated in Active U, logging more than 160 million exercise minutes. Registration for the program’s 10th year is open through Jan. 13.

“This is a big milestone for a program like this,” says Colleen Greene, MHealthy senior wellness coordinator. “We are one of only a few large-scale workplace physical activity programs in the country to have maintained and even grown for 10 straight years. I believe part of our success can be attributed to listening to our participants and making improvements to meet their needs.”

The 12-week physical activity challenge is open to all university faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students, retirees and employee spouses/other qualified adults.

To participate:

• Sign up as an individual or join a team of two or more.

• Use the online tracker to log exercise minutes via computer, mobile device and, new this year, text message. The new online tracker has been optimized for most smartphones and tablets.

• Updated completion requirements: successfully complete each week of the program by achieving a weekly exercise minutes goal. This goal must include exercising at least 30 minutes per day, at least three days per week.

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“Our goal has always been to get people to move more, so we’ve updated how to successfully complete a week in the program,” says Greene. “Achieve your weekly exercise minutes goal, which is based on your responses to the Active U pre-registration survey. In reaching your weekly goal, make sure you have exercised at least 30 minutes a day, a minimum of three days per week.”

Some popular program features include:

• Donating to charities chosen by Active U participants. Three teams and three individual participants will be randomly selected to choose charities to receive donations collected during the program.

• An opportunity to win prizes each week just for logging exercise minutes.

• Earning virtual badges and sharing success by reaching program milestones such as achieving weekly goals, reaching 1,000 activity minutes and more.

• On select days, putting on a past Active U T-shirt and sharing a photo on MHealthy’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page (include hashtag #ActiveU10) to be entered in a “Swag Squad” drawing.

• Earning a 10th Anniversary T-shirt for successfully completing Active U.

• For benefits-eligible faculty and staff, earning $100 for successfully completing both Active U and the MHealthy Rewards 2015 health questionnaire.

Allen says she plans to sign up for this year’s Active U, crediting both the program and changing her food choices with helping her lose 140 pounds. 

“Active U allows me to compete with myself about exercising,” Allen says. “I began simply trying to move more through everyday activities like cleaning my house, then added walking and using hand weights. I’m now 140 pounds lighter, my body is stronger and I’m more ready for the fight.”