What started years ago as a way to earn a $100 incentive has turned into a lifestyle change and a new challenge for Paul Larsen, Senior SAP Support Analyst (Milwaukee). After reaching 700,000 steps in the Step It Up challenge last year, he now aims to reach the top goal—1.4 million steps—before the year ends. That’s the equivalent of walking the Grand Canyon two and a half times … or the length of 12,320 football fields! And it could earn him $200 off his 2016 medical premiums, too.
We stopped to ask him what inspired him and how he plans to get it done.
You started with Get Fit on Route 66 and then moved on to Step It Up. What inspired you to do these programs in the first place?
First, you have a $100 incentive. So that’s a good way to start. But beyond that, sometimes it’s the smallest little things, like being able to track it and have a goal. To say, “I’m going to make the 700,000 steps.” It’s motivating to have that goal in front of you. And, if it’s logged in one spot, you’re not forgetting it. So I like being able to document the activity, have a financial goal and [get] the satisfaction of tracking it yourself to see what you’re doing. Those all work together.
You say Step It Up inspired you to be more active. What physical activities do you do?
I added walking big time since I started. I had been walking before, just not as consistently or as much. I also log other activities, like cutting the grass, but the main thing is walking. I also do some weight lifting when the weather isn’t good, so that was a secondary change in lifestyle.
How do you fit it in your busy schedule?
You have to take time to do it, just like you take time for lunch. That’s always a challenge, but in the end, we’re probably going to be more productive if we’re walking than if we’re just not exercising and sitting all day. In the end, we’re probably better off in every way, not just health wise but productivity wise as well.
How many steps do you aim for each day?
I really focus on time. I try to get in 30 or 40 minutes, and use the Step It Up website to convert my time to steps. I get 30 minutes at lunch. That’s the equivalent of 3,000 steps. I’m averaging in the 4,000-step range, but I’d like to get in 6,000 steps if I could. That’d be walking about an hour.
How do you keep it challenging year after year?
I only log technical exercise time, like the steps I do when I’m on the track. I don’t log when I’m walking to my car or anything like that [although the program allows you to]. I don’t want to do that because for me that’s not changing my lifestyle. If I log the steps I take anyway, that makes absolutely no difference. To me, it makes a difference if I’m doing something I wouldn’t have done before or if I’m intentionally exercising. That’s worth logging because you’re doing it for the purpose of getting in shape or being healthier.
Have you noticed any health benefits?
I don’t know that I noticed anything. Bottom line is my lifestyle changed. I think that’s the whole goal here. My exercise has increased.
Do you participate in other parts of the Health Management Program?
Yes. I really appreciate Rockwell Automation doing this—having the walking track [in Milwaukee] and even the little incentives. There are several things to choose. If you choose a healthy activity or lifestyle, they want to reward you and give you a way to log it. It’s a small little perk, but it’s really nice. I appreciate Rockwell Automation doing that.
Why do you want to reach 1,400,000 steps?
Having 1,400,000 steps as a goal is enough to keep you going all year. I would have gone for 1,400,000 steps last year if I started earlier. Last year I started around May and was still able to make the first goal (700,000 steps). But this year, I was motivated to start in January, and I’ve already logged in steps for the year.
What’s your motivation?
In the larger issue, $100 isn’t that big of a deal. The picture of health is the bigger issue. And the older we get, the science of being healthy is pretty undeniable on this. If you’re exercising, you’re just better off. So that is the bigger motivation. These other [incentives] are just little helps to get you going. The bigger goal is health. That is obviously more important.
Start the Step It Up challenge today to see how many steps you can achieve before the year ends!
You can do any activity—like biking, basketball or exercise class—and easily convert it to steps with your Fitbit (which syncs to StayWell’s site), a pedometer or the online activity conversion tool. Complete the equivalent of 700,000 steps to earn a $100 credit toward your 2016 medical premiums. Or hit 1,400,000 steps to earn a $200 credit. The sooner you start, the more steps you’ll reach and the more likely you’ll achieve your own lifestyle change.