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COVID 19 and the lockdown caused by it was severe for most of us. Months of being at home without any opportunity to go outside was tough. It forced sedentary life style on most of us and many of us starting developing unhealthy lifestyles that increased the chances of life style diseases.
- Crédits : apinan
It is rightly said that a healthy mind and healthy body go hand in hand. Therefore, as we felt that the lockdown was beginning to be over and life was limping back to normal, we decided to challenge our people to start living a healthy life once again.
The challenge was – what can we do that is simple, known to all and can be easily done without much investment. We started to see articles in the media that said cycle sales have gone up many times in the pandemic due to the gyms being closed and the need for social distancing. So, that started giving us some ideas on what should we do to harness this growing demand for cycles. We got to know from many of our colleagues that they have purchased cycles during this lockdown. Many of them have started going out on long walks on the empty streets.
We started researching on cycling as healthy activity.
Many articles we came across in our google search said that cycling and running are equally good as a sport. Cycling has a plus point as it causes less stress on the body as compared to running which is a more injury prone sport. Cycling on an average burns around 350 calories in an hour and therefore we narrowed down on cycling as the sport.
Then we faced another challenge. Many of the people said that they found it too risky in their neighborhoods to go out cycling due to the traffic. Many said that they did not want to invest in a bike at this point in time. Many suggested we choose running along with cycling. However, running has the same drawbacks that what we found while reading up on cycling, that running can be a high injury sport, kind of put us on a defensive. Then the solution was provided by one of our colleagues who goes on long walks with her husband and really feels refreshed. So then, we chose walking as the second activity for challenge.
The next task was to find a way to bring together people in different geographical locations competing together. And that is where we came across strava and google fit. We chose ‘Strava’ and ‘Google Fit’ the two apps that are universally accepted fitness apps.
We have started a four-week long activity for walking and cycling. We have named the walking enthusiasts as Egis Walksters and the cycling enthusiasts as Egis Cycling Czars.
The idea is very simple. We want our 3000 employees or as many of them, located in different parts of India to challenge themselves in completing as many kilometers as they can and compete virtually.
We were not very sure of the participation as this is the first time we are organizing a challenge like this that too virtually. To encourage participation, we formed clubs in Strava and encouraged the employees to check out how they are performing against each other as trial before we announced the competition.
We were flooded with participation requests. We started two separate whatsapp groups to stay connected with the participants. We started sharing videos and links on various topics related to the challenge.
The response has been overwhelming. People who cycled in their schools and colleges started cycling again. People who stopped walking long time ago started special alarms to just go out for walks in the mornings.
The groups started filling with messages of how many kilometers each of the participants completed daily. It was a very healthy competition where everyone wanted to outperform the other participants and to prove to themselves that they are the best.
Santhosh, one of the participants in the walkathon group says “Walking has become an addiction for me now. I feel very restless if I don’t walk daily. Earlier I had to push myself and I felt too lazy to go out and walk but now adays I start feeling as if the roads are calling me for a walk”. Shubham, another participant said “It is so addictive that earlier I woke up and checked my social media. Today I wake up and check strava to see how far my colleagues and covered while I was asleep”
We have started this competition from mid-September for four weeks. We are not looking at the winners only. We are looking at changing the behavior of our employees towards a healthier life. A life where they put fitness and wellbeing in the center of their universe. And if we find the participants doing better than they were yesterday and if some of them have developed this new way of life, we will consider ourselves to be the winners of this challenge.