Bee Heart Smart initiates a challenge

It is that time of year again. The semester is wrapping up, spring is on the way, crocuses are blooming and your team should be gearing up for the 6th Annual Bee Heart Smart six-week physical activity challenge.

Running May 1 to June 14, this competition is open to staff and faculty with the goal of promoting active living by participating in walking, running, swimming, cycling or other physical activities.

Last year was my first year involved in this challenge and I enjoyed the enthusiasm and friendly competition exhibited. Our goal this year is to increase participation – in both total individuals (176 in 2009) and number of teams (17 in 2009) registered.

Rule changes for this year include a new time category for physical activity other than walking, running, cycling or swimming. Participants will now be able to record their time spent at the gym, engaging in activities such as yoga, pilates, or indoor soccer, to name a few.

There will also be two additional categories for running and cycling; allowing cyclists to either record the distance travelled (km) or time spent performing the activity.

Registration for the Bee Heart Smart challenge will be available through the Wellness website ( or the Notice Board as of Apr. 16. Early Bird draw prizes will be available to those who register prior to May 1.

Record the following (daily or weekly):
• Number of steps (using a pedometer) or time for walking/running
• Number of km or time for cycling
• Number of laps for swimming
• Time spent performing other physical activity
Prizes will be drawn weekly for the top performers as well as random prizes for participation.
The benefits of getting involved in the Bee Heart Smart challenge are many.

Improved health
Walking just 30 minutes on most days can lead to significant health benefits. Aim for 10,000 steps per day – this can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis.

Weight control
Just 2km of walking burns 100 calories. By adding 2km several times a week, you can burn an additional 500 calories a week.

There will be prizes such as free monthly memberships to the fitness centre (from Sports and Recreation Services), pedometers,
U of L Bookstore gift certificates, movie passes, and a variety of other prizes. Weekly draws will be made for every level of participation.

Stress Relief
One of the most effective methods of stress relief is exercise. Physical activity provides an outlet for negative emotions such as frustration, anger and irritability, promoting a more positive mood and outlook. Your body releases greater amounts of endorphins which are the powerful pain-relieving, mood-elevating chemicals in the brain.

Joining a team for Bee Heart Smart, not only makes physical activity more fun, but makes you more accountable to your team, which helps ensure ongoing participation. Remember it takes about three weeks to start a new habit, so six weeks of Bee Heart Smart will have you well on your way to continuing this physical activity throughout the summer.

Sport and Recreation Services will offer first time monthly memberships (for the month of May) to anyone participating in the Bee Heart Smart Challenge for $10 (a savings of $21.75).

Suzanne McIntosh is the wellness co-ordinator at the University of Lethbridge