Registration for Active U, MHealthy’s 12-week physical activity challenge, now is open.

In its 12th year, the program draws thousands in the U-M community who use the team camaraderie, weekly exercise goal, and coveted T-shirt as motivation to maintain or improve current goals or commit to new ones for the new year.

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For David Young, his commitment to moving more and making small, incremental changes helped him lose more than 100 pounds.

“The important thing for me was to always keep moving,” says Young, a multimedia designer at the School of Information. “Because of previous lower back surgeries, I could mostly do low-impact exercises like walking. Choosing to do that, combined with sensible eating and taking advantage of MHealthy programs like Active U, is how I stay the course.”

David Young, a multimedia designer at the School of Information, says participating in MHealthy programs like Active U, taking 10-minute walks during the day, and eating a sensible diet helped him lose more than 100 pounds. (Photo by Daryl Marshke, Michigan Photography)

Active U is open to university faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students, retirees, and employee spouses or Other Qualified Adults. A participant’s weekly exercise-minutes goal is determined during registration and is based on his or her current amount of physical activity. Once registered, they may choose to remain an individual participant or join or create a team.

“On average, most people should try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, at least five days a week to improve fitness,” say Colleen Greene, MHealthy senior wellness coordinator. “Walking, yoga, strength training, swimming, yard work, shoveling snow, and even playing tag with the kids all count towards reaching your exercise goal each week. Active U truly is a program for all fitness levels, ages and abilities.”

Program highlights include:

• More ways to log minutes — In addition to logging via the website, text message and mobile app, participants can now sync their Fitbit, Garmin or Jawbone wearable tracking device. They can also sync to the free version of Runkeeper, an activity tracking app available on iPhone and Android smartphones.

• Active U T-shirt — Earn a 2017 T-shirt for successfully completing the program.They are free to employees, and for a small fee for spouses/ OQAs, students and retirees.

• Charity donation — Participants can donate to raise money for the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

• $50 incentive — Active U qualifies for MHealthy Rewards 2017, which gives benefits-eligible faculty and staff the opportunity to earn up to $100 for completing two different qualifying activities in 2017.

A few years ago, when Young was just starting his weight loss journey, he used his MHealthy Rewards incentive towards buying a Fitbit to help monitor his steps.

“I remember wondering how I would ever get 10,000 steps in a day, which initially felt like a lot of work,” says Young. “However, I started doing things like taking 10-minute walking breaks at work and parking at the back of the parking lot. It took me four or five months, but eventually reaching my goal each day wasn’t as daunting.”

 Logging exercise minutes in Active U 2017 starts Jan. 10 and continues through April 3.