Move more, feel great: A new Healthy IU challenge

A woman uses a wheelchair on a city sidewalkView print quality image
Healthy IU has a new challenge encouraging the IU community to get moving. Photo by Getty Images

Our bodies are made to move, and we don't have to spend hours in a gym to move more. Move More IU will show participants how to incorporate physical activity throughout the day -- and have a little fun along the way.

The three-week online challenge, hosted by Healthy IU, starts March 1. IU employees and their spouses, students, and community members are invited to participate.

During the challenge, participants will track their daily active minutes or how many times they moved each day. They'll also receive emails with tips and encouragement from Healthy IU. As an incentive, full-time IU employees and their spouses on an IU-sponsored medical plan who complete the challenge are eligible to receive a $10 Amazon e-gift card.

Some of the activities highlighted during the challenge include workstation movements, mind/body practices such as chair yoga or tai chi, and "opportunities to move" -- creative ideas for making daily routines more active. All activities have been carefully selected for a range of abilities and fitness levels. They require no special equipment and can be done in short, one- to 15-minute chunks of time. To comply with COVID-19 safety precautions, all activities can be done from the comfort of one's home or office, or at a safe distance from others.

"Move More IU is for everyone; we all deserve to get the mental and physical benefits of physical activity from micro-breaks," Healthy IU manager Samantha Schaefer said.

Choose to move; everything counts

From better sleep and improved brain health, to reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease, physical activity has a huge impact on your overall health. And when it comes to getting active, everything counts. You might be surprised by how a few minutes here and there can really add up.

"Every adult should throw out the idea that if you're not doing the most grueling, sweat-drenching workout for more than an hour it doesn't count," said Vanessa Kercher, a clinical assistant professor in the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington who helped develop content for the challenge. "Instead, start by taking any and every opportunity to move, in any way possible at whatever speed, for any amount of time."

'Warm-up weeks'

Leading up to the challenge, Healthy IU is offering three "warm-up weeks." Each week will offer daily emails with tips to help participants learn about and experiment with different types of movement, which they can later use during the challenge. Each week is optional, and participants can sign up for whichever week(s) they're interested in.

  • Week of Feb. 8: Movement Right at Your Desk/Workstation.
  • Week of Feb. 15: Choose to Move! Everything Counts!
  • Week of Feb. 22: Activity Breaks for Your Mind and Body Campus participation competition.

Healthy IU has also introduced a friendly campus participation competition. The IU campus with the most employee participation in Move More IU will receive a trophy and, of course, the pride of being No. 1.

"It's an opportunity for each campus community to work together, have fun and feel connected -- especially in this time when we cannot all be together in person," Schaefer said.

Healthy IU thanks Kercher as well as School of Public Health senior lecturer Rachel Ryder for their help in developing content for the challenge. Details about the challenge are on the Move More IU webpage. Questions can be sent to challeng@iu.edu.

Julie Newsom is Healthy IU's communication specialist. Healthy IU is Indiana University's workplace wellness program. For more information, visit healthy.iu.edu.