December 23, 2010 - [Providence] In 2005, Brown University medical student Rajiv Kumar planned a fitness competition to raise funds for a non-profit organization supporting doctors in Africa. An idea …
December 23, 2010 - [Providence] In 2005, Brown University medical student Rajiv Kumar planned a fitness competition to raise funds for a non-profit organization supporting doctors in Africa. An idea that was originally intended to address health disparities abroad quickly transformed into an award-winning local movement that, five years later, has changed the lives of over 50,000 people here at home in Rhode Island.
That organization is Shape Up RI, which has announced the calendar for its upcoming 2011 wellness campaign. The first 12-week competition begins on February 7 and runs through May 1. Participants can sign up online at www.shapeupri.org.
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, lead sponsor of Shape Up RI, has recently committed its continued support for the statewide fitness competition in 2011.
“The charter of Shape Up RI is directly aligned with our company vision to improve our member’s quality of life by improving their health,” said Michele Lederberg, executive vice president. “With a significant upward trend in obesity rates in RI of about 1.5 percent per year, and obesity and other related illnesses costing Rhode Islanders about $305 million each year, programs like Shape Up RI are critical in motivating the men and women of our state. We are proud to support Shape Up RI and help activate and engage our community in leading healthier lifestyles.”
The structure of the statewide exercise and weight loss challenge is simple. Participants form teams with friends, co-workers, and/or family members. Team members receive a digital pedometer, logbook, and access to a robust online data tracking system, through which they can set goals, track their progress, communicate with team members, and compare their results with other participants across the state.
Participants also receive e-newsletters with useful health tips, inspiration, and updates about hundreds of free Shape Up RI wellness events that will take place throughout the state. Exciting weekly prizes including bikes and kayaks will be distributed. The grand prize is a gift certificate for $5,000 worth of groceries. Shape Up RI will continue to offer its “Nutrition Tracking,” a new feature introduced in its Summer program that proved to be highly effective in helping participants track their level of fruit and vegetable intake.
“The dramatic growth of Shape Up RI over the years has exceeded our expectations. Teamwork, peer support, and an atmosphere of friendly competition have been the hallmarks of our success, and this year we project record numbers of participants, pounds lost, and steps taken toward good health,” says Kumar, now Chairman of the organization.
In its first year, Shape Up RI had 1,738 participants. That number grew rapidly and in 2010, 15,071 people competed, exercising a total 454,660 hours, walking 5,193,583,740 steps, and losing a combined 52,601 pounds. The program’s effectiveness was recently reaffirmed by a new clinical study conducted by Brown University's Warren Alpert Medical School and The Miriam Hospital, which appears in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
“Shape Up RI is the answer – a way to activate and engage Rhode Islanders, build a strong sense of community spirit, and harness the power of teamwork to inspire us to change our attitudes and behaviors toward our health. You belong in Shape Up RI,” says Kumar.
For more information on how to join the Shape Up RI 2011 Competition, please visit the website www.shapeupri.org or call (401) 421-0608.
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is the state’s leading health insurer and covers more than 600,000 members. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit www.bcbsri.com.