Philadelphia, PA — Results from a nine-month study by Independence Blue Cross (Independence) demonstrating that an enhanced walking program encouraged people to walk more and led to weight loss and improvements in mood, energy levels, and overall feelings of well-being, appear today in the American Journal of Health Promotion.
Nearly 460 employees from six Independence employer groups participated in the randomized study; approximately half participated in a standard program and half in an enhanced walking program that included incentives, coaching, feedback, competitive challenges, and monthly wellness workshops. The standard program included resources such as flyers and posters for promoting the program, but employers could do as much or as little promotion as they wanted.
The results showed that participants in the enhanced group averaged 726 more steps on a daily basis and were more likely to meet the 10,000 steps a day threshold. Increases of 1,000 steps per day were associated with a 3.8 pound weight loss for men and 2.1 pound loss for women, as well as reductions in Body Mass Index and improved energy levels and moods, according to participant survey responses.
“As a company committed to enhancing the health and wellness of our members and our community, we are very excited about the outcomes of this study. Our research shows that a well-managed walking program, one that consistently tracks steps and motivates people to walk, can be maintained over a long period of time and is very effective at helping people lose weight and feel more energetic,” said Aaron Smith-McLallen, Independence manager and lead research scientist and the study’s lead author. “Walking is a very simple activity that most people can do, which makes it the ideal program for employers to adopt and promote to their workforce.”
Independence offers a variety of walking and weight loss programs to employer groups, including “Maintain, Don’t Gain!” a program to help employees avoid weight gain during the holidays, and “Losers R Winners,” a weight loss challenge program that includes cash or other prizes.