The staff of the Connecticut Conference is rising up! Literally. Seventeen members of the staff are climbing the stairs in droves at the Hartford and Sharon offices, and all over the state as they complete the Lean On Me Health Challenge (pun fully intended).
Lean On Me challenges staffers to get up from their desk multiple times per work day to walk up and down some stairs and to track their total number of stairs to see how many feet they have traveled. Each participant chooses from a list of mountains as a goal for the 45 work-day challenge. Some chose Bear Mountain, Connecticut's highest peak (2323 feet), Mount Washington (6289 ft.), or Mount Whitney (14505 ft.). Others are reaching for the summit of Mount Everest. Each day's steps are totaled in a shared document where participants can comment and encourage each other to keep moving, keep climbing, and "lean" on each other.
The idea came from News and Media Editor, Drew Page.
"Its difficult to motivate yourself to exercise in the winter; it's harder to hike or go for bike rides, even gyms are more crowded. At work, I often choose to walk up the stairs rather than email or call someone in the office, so I thought what if I did twice as many stairs each time? I mentioned this to Emily [McKenna] and the ball started…climbing."
Several staff members have chosen to climb Mount Everest. The tallest mountain in the world at 29,029 feet, Everest will take the climbers nearly 50,000 steps, which averages to over 1100 steps each day. At the Sherman Street office, people are passing each other on the stairways as they take an extra flight or two each time they move around the office. McKenna, the office manager for the CT Conference, has a 9-flight routine for getting coffee, taking a flight or two of stairs for each part of the process. Those who work off-site are recording the steps they take during their work as well. Michele Mudrick, the Conference Legislative Advocate, often works from home. She has a piece a paper taped to the wall next to her stairway so she can mark each flight of stairs as she does them.
"I was impressed by the number of people who bought into this challenge, and even more impressed by their goals," said Page.
Page has a goal of climbing 240 steps every hour to reach the Mount Everest goal by March 23. Like McKenna, he makes multiple trips to get a coffee, or climbs several flights more than needed to go confer with a colleague. Though his office is on the basement level, Page climbs up to the second floor before going down to his office when he arrives in the morning.
"It's really about doing more than you would, more than what's comfortable," said Page. "At times, you'll see 2 or 3 people passing each other or climbing together as they add more flights to their daily goal. Charlie [Kuchenbrod] practically runs up and down. We've become quite an active bunch."
"The benefits of regular exercise are innumerable," says Teddi Therkildsen, a Registered Nurse and regular SLCC Nurse during the summer conferences. Therkildsen says the benefits include maintaining a healthy weight, preventing or managing heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, and even improving balance and coordination. "All of that, while putting us in a better mood," she says.
Since Jan. 23, the Lean On Me climbers have climbed over 23,000 feet, higher than Mount McKinley, the highest peak in the United States.
"Things are looking up for the CTUCC staff," said Conference Minister, the Rev. Kent Siladi, who has set Mount Everest as his own goal. "We are climbing together to exercise our common commitment to reaching new heights." Clearly altitude sickness has made Siladi a bit punchy.