Health care providers work tirelessly to care for patients, but sometimes it can be a challenge to find time in between their work to care for themselves.
Cory Gallant, RN, assistant nurse director in the Division of Thoracic Surgery, recently charged 100 of his colleagues to a 15-week step challenge. The challenge began the second week in April and will go through mid-July. Each of the 10 participating teams will take 10.5 million steps — roughly equivalent to the distance between Boston and Hawaii.
“People were feeling like they just don’t have the time or resources to get out and be healthy with their hectic work schedules,” Gallant said. “It’s important to realize that there is a mind-body connection in health care where we need to take care of ourselves so that we can care for others.”
Gallant wanted to propose something that would be rigorous enough to provide significant health benefits without being too intimidating.
“Walking is a super easy way to exercise,” he said. “The challenge component makes it motivational, and the teams build each other up and add a level of collaboration.”
The step challenge includes 10 teams, each team made up of 10 participants. The teams are led by “accountability coaches” selected by Gallant to encourage everyone to meet their step goals.
Kelly Laws, BSN, RN, of the Medical Intensive Care Unit, serves as the accountability coach for her team and was excited when Gallant asked her to participate and be a leader in this challenge. Laws said she motivates her team through a virtual group chat she created for the members to share inspiration.
“As a bedside nurse, I realize how important it is for me to set a positive example of a healthy lifestyle,” said Laws. “I encourage my teammates to find something interesting, funny or inspirational on each walk to share with the group.”
Participants log their steps by syncing their fitness trackers to a mobile app called MoveSpring. Each coach can see their teammates’ individual progress. The app also measures the average number of steps taken by each team and shares them on a leaderboard for all participants to view.
Even in the early stages of the challenge, Gallant noticed how access to this information inspires participants to meet their step goals.
“It’s been good to see people recognize that they’re not moving as much as they thought they were,” he said. “That’s the whole point of it.”
Gallant obtained support for the project in September through the Brigham Care Redesign Incubator and Startup Program, which provided funding to set up the platform on MoveSpring, provide fitness trackers and other resources to participants and even offer a cash prize for the winning team.