Ole Exercisers Top Wellness Competition

Many St. Olaf College employees are enthusiastic about working out, and they demonstrated that passion to Minnesota by winning first place in exercise for the Colleges and Universities Division. Accustomed to participating in a spring walking program, college staff instead directed their energy to exercising and tracking their accomplishments through the 2011 Biggest Loser Minnesota Challenge.

“I think people probably worked out a little more during the challenge,” says Jennie Moberg, captain for St. Olaf’s Information and Instructional Technologies team, who says tracking her exercise helped her stay focused on fitness. “It’s easier to get motivated when you have that visual graph to compare your exercise level from week to week.”

St. Olaf’s seven teams logged some impressive results: combined, they completed more than 87,000 minutes of exercise during the competition. They got moving by running, walking, working out in the college’s fitness center, swimming, weight lifting, even using gaming exercise programs to get fit.

Many St. Olaf participants got motivated by the team aspect of the program, says Moberg, adding that she was inspired by “seeing the progress and knowing that I would be letting my teammates down if I didn’t keep going.” She also learned a thing or two about nutrition along the way. “I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty healthy eater. But with the nutrition tracking during the challenge, I realized I have some serious room for improvement.”

In the 2011 Biggest Loser Minnesota Challenge, 22,000 Minnesotans lost 76,048 pounds during this twelve-week wellness competition. Minnesotans also earned 27,749,925 nutrition points and exercised 383,807 hours — the time it would take to walk around the earth 46 times.

The Challenge’s overall goal is to create a fun community activity that encourages Minnesotans to eat better and move more. They could accomplish that goal by participating in one, two or three of the Challenge’s categories: nutrition, exercise and weight loss.

“This isn’t about rapid or sudden weight loss,” says Tom Mason, president of the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota. “It’s about workplaces and communities establishing a culture that encourages people to take charge of their own health, choosing healthier lifestyle behaviors that can be maintained long-term.”

Challenge participants logged their last round of activities Friday, April 15. Those who placed among the top 1,000 in each category were entered into a prize drawing. JoAnn Buck of Burnsville won the competition’s grand prize drawing, a trip to see The Biggest Loser Season 11 finale in Los Angeles, California. Four other lucky participants received a free one-year membership to Snap Fitness. The other fitness membership winners were Captain Kate Jones of the McLeod County Jail, Cory Marquart of the University of Minnesota Morris and Carla Peck of Burnsville, an employee of Hennepin County.

While all Minnesota Challenge participants made progress towards healthier exercise and nutrition habits, some of them dropped as much as 20 percent of their body weight. And the top 100 performers in the weight loss category lost an average of 37 pounds each. Read more success stories.

The 2011 Minnesota Challenge was the second wellness competition offered by the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota. During summer 2010, with the help of General Mills, the Alliance developed a relationship with NBC’s Biggest Loser. A pilot wellness competition called the Biggest Loser Summer Challenge brought 10,000 employees of Alliance member companies together to shed more than 37,000 pounds, exercise 16 million minutes and earn millions of nutrition points by making healthy food choices. Colleges, universities, community groups and employers throughout Minnesota are now marking their calendars for the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota’s third wellness competition, slated to begin in early 2012.

Learn more.

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