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Colleagues are virtually walking around the world

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This Spring employees of Colonial Insurance started walking across the world.

Participants started in Milford Sound, New Zealand, and have already reached exotic places like Fiji, Thailand, China, Burma, Uganda and even Yemen at least they’ve reached them virtually.

The health insurance company joined an online international corporate wellness and fitness programme to better the health of their employees.

Jaqueline Teunissen, Corporate Wellness Director for the Colonial Group of Companies, said with most people spending the majority of their time at work, it’s very important that they incorporate physical activity into their working day.

“In the office you may not be aware of how little you move,” she said. “I am fit. I run marathons but wearing the pedometer has raised my awareness of how I can be more active during working hours,” she added.

“Employees from Colonial have been hitting the pavement since May 19 with more than 125,000 other employees as part of a worldwide health and well-being initiative which aims to combat the growing health risks associated with the increasingly sedentary nature of today’s modern workforce,” she said.

“This is achieved by challenging employees to walk over 10,000 steps per day for 16 weeks a proven and recommended way of reducing your overall risk of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes,” she added.

A total of 63 Colonial employees are taking part in the wellness programme. They are arranged into nine teams of seven. Each team logs its activity on the interactive website. “This activity is converted to an overall distance and the team’s progress is plotted along a virtual tour of the world. The more active the team, the further they progress on their virtual journey,” said Ms Teunissen.

“We’ve already been to Fiji,” she said.

Using the interactive website also has allowed employees to meet and dialogue with the more than 125,000 other participants from 78 countries.

Naz Farrow, Chief Operating Officer of Colonial, said in addition to improving employees’ health the programme boosts morale and energy levels.

“We’re keen to help play our part to ensure our employees lead healthy and active lifestyles. Colonial is very excited to be participating in this international challenge as it’s a great way of making a lasting impact on the health of our staff, while having some fun at the same time,” she said in a written release.

“We’re encouraging staff to make simple, healthier choices throughout their day, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or using their lunch break to go for a walk, to help achieve their 10,000 step goal for the day,” she added.

Ms Teunissen said making the programme available to all employees has strengthened its effectiveness.

“There is peer impact at work and it can make a real difference in your lifestyle choices,” she said. “ Instead of your workmates enticing you to the store for tea and cakes on a break, or for drinks after work, they may now decide to go for a walk together,” she said.

“I’ve seen women in our kitchen at Colonial having fun making smoothies, because we put a blender in there,” she added.

And, according to Ms Teunissen many of those participating at Colonial have expanded their activities to their private time, organising team walks on the weekends and evenings, to better their placements.

Last week Colonial’s Earthwalk team ranked number one of all 300 competing teams in the insurance industry and team Sole Express was in eighth place in the same category.

The success of the programme has led the company to expand it one Island school in September. Children at the school will get pedometers and work as a class in recording their activity to the website. They will interact with schoolchildren all over the world in the same way that the Colonial employees have done.

Last Tuesday Colonial’s statistics in this wellness programme were as follows:

Total teams: 9

Total participants: 63

Walk steps: 55,716,631

Bike steps: 851,971

Swim steps: 1,645,465

Total steps: 58,214,067

Daily step average: 14,334

Total distance (km): 37,257

Daily average distance (km) 9.17

Carbon abatement: 1,397.14

Clocking up the miles: Melvin Howes, Tracey Thompson, and Orenda Hummingbird, from Colonial Insurance, are among of a team that are staying healthy by walking around the world ?virtually? recording their mileage with pedometers (example pictured centre top). An image of the Earth is also pictured.
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Published August 02, 2011 at 7:00 am (Updated August 01, 2011 at 6:48 pm)

Colleagues are virtually walking around the world

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