Fitness Challenge winners announced 

Press Release

Arkansas Department of Health & Human Services

Winners of the 2006 Arkansas Fitness Challenge receive gold medals at State Capitol

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (July 11, 2006) — Gold medals were awarded and the ceremonial  cauldron was “extinguished” today at the State Capitol to commemorate the end of the 2006 Arkansas  Fitness Challenge. But for thousands of Arkansans, better health and fitness has just begun. 

The hosts for the Olympic-like ceremonies were Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the two entities that began the Arkansas Fitness
Challenge in 2004. The Arkansas Fitness Challenge is an employee exercise contest that encourages employees to work toward the public health recommendation of adult physical activity 30 minutes
each day, most days of the week.

For the third year, Arkansas Blue Cross won the contest between the two groups. Sharon Allen, president and chief operating officer of Arkansas Blue Cross, flanked by a group of blue-T-shirtclad employees, was officially presented a gold medal by Paul Halverson, Dr.PH., director of health and state health officer for DHHS.

The greatest success celebrated was how the Arkansas Fitness Challenge has grown from the two host entities to many other groups from around the state participating in the contest and how employees have improved their health as a result. This year, 60 additional groups representing large and small companies, banks, schools and universities, physician offices, churches, hospitals and state agencies signed up for the Challenge. Representatives from those groups present at the ceremonies today were presented with gold and silver medals to recognize their achievements (a complete list of companies/groups is attached).

“It is awesome to see how the contest has grown again this year,” said Allen. “Our hope was that more companies and organizations would join in the quest for better health by ‘finding a foe’ and
holding contests of their own. We were hoping for those who joined the 2005 Challenge to come back for the 2006 contest and that new companies and organizations would follow and that has happened.
We were pleased to have more than 4,000 of our own employees participating in our contest this year. And we estimate that more than 10,000 men, women and children participated in the contest this year!”

A total of 4,516 employees from the two host entities participated in the competition from March 1 through May 31, 2006. During the three-month period, employees from each entity engaged in eligible cardiovascular-oriented exercises to work their way through 30 virtual checkpoints in Arkansas – from Bentonville to West Memphis. The winning entity was determined by whose employees had the greatest participation and scored the highest in four categories of measurement.

“The contest is a fun way to get us all ‘moving,’ but the personal gain our employees achieved once again has been nothing short of remarkable and confirmation of what can be achieved in a short
period of time when you’re committed,” said Halverson. “Every participating employee worked hard to meet contest and personal goals, and I congratulate them on their accomplishments. Other participants in this year’s contest shared results similar to ours. We all win with better health, which is why the growth of the contest out in the state makes this a great adventure toward a healthier Arkansas.”

In preliminary results from a post-event evaluation survey among Challenge participants with Arkansas Blue Cross and DHHS (1,088 survey respondents), 21 percent indicated that their health
status had “greatly improved” during the contest; 57 percent of the respondents said their health status had “somewhat improved;” and 21 percent said their health status had “remained the same.”


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