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Walking, Walking...

I mentioned earlier this year that I signed up for the Virgin Health Mile program my company offered. At first I wasn’t very enthusiastic about it, and procrastinated for over a month before I finally activated my pedometer and logged on to the VHM website for the first time. I often forgot to wear the pedometer in the morning and sometimes wondered if it was worth the daily trouble to earn the maximum reward of $200 a year. And then I lost the pedometer in the Hilton during the IAGSDC convention. I put it down in a restroom and forgot to put it back on. Nobody turned it in.

So I was just ready to give up, but in August my Dear Employer offered us a ten-day discount period to replace a lost pedometer for $15 (we get our first one for free, but each additional one normally cost $25). At the same time, the maximum annual reward was increased to $500. That was enough to draw me back. I did the math and figured out that there was no way I could earn the full $500 by my anniversary date on April 8th, because I have wasted too much time earlier this year, but a total of $350 is very attainable. Here’s how the programs works:

Each day: I can earn 20 points for walking less than 7,000 steps, or 60 points for more than 7,000 steps, or 80 points for more than 12,000 steps. I can write two activity journals in the website for 10 points each. The journal points are really freebies because mostly I just need to select dates, time and activity from drop-down boxes. The maximum points I can earn in one day is 100, so there’s no economic benefit for walking more than $12,000 steps a day. This is very easy for me to achieve. I’m one of the few Atlanta residents who don’t use a car to get to work, because I live and work just a few blocks from a MARTA station. My daily commute is at least 5,000 steps, and my walk to the food court during lunch time is another 1,000 steps. If I just stop by at the Decatur library on my way home, I’ve got my 7,000 steps already.

Each week: I earn 20 points simply by logging on to the VHM website.

Each month: I earn 200 points by entering my improved fitness measurements in the website. I can also participate in a monthly challenge and earn an extra 150 to 250 points, such as the “walk more than X steps during the Thanksgiving week Turkey Trail Challenge”. 

Every year: I earn extra points for doing an online fitness assessment and signing a no-smoking agreement.

Here’s how the rewards accumulate: For the first 5,999 points I just get a free pedometer (the lost one). At 6,000 points I climb to Level 2 and earn $75. I reached L2 in September and the money was automatically transferred to my Health Savings Account a few days later. At 12,000 points I climb to Level 3 and get another $125. I earned it before Thanksgiving. The next two levels will take much longer time to reach. I will need to accumulate another 12,000 points to get another $150, which will take me a little less than four months. After that I will run out of time, because my points will be reset to zero on my anniversary date.

Right now I’m participating in another special challenge that offers the biggest reward for the year. I’ll write about it tomorrow. It’s time for bed. Good night.



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 17th, 2010 05:30 pm (UTC)
What a cool idea! I'm passing this on to my HR department, as they are always running various programs to encourage employees to be healthier. This one may cost too much (we have 800 employees and are privately held), but I love the concept.
Dec. 18th, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC)
Yes, I see a lot of coworkers walking around with a pedometer.
Dec. 18th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
When I did pass it on, our HR manager also asked for your next post, as you mentioned another program that you planned to talk about later. So now you have to write that one, too! :)
Dec. 21st, 2010 04:16 am (UTC)
It's just a special challenge period within the same program.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )