Take a Hike Event Shows Employees the Benefits of Walking

By Madison Reeley, WHK Student Intern; photos by Samuel Lopez, Staff Writer
Hikers stop by the stand for Frederick Foot and Ankle, one of the sponsors.

Hikers stop by the stand for Frederick Foot and Ankle, one of the sponsors.

Occupational Health Services (OHS) got people excited to walk at the summer Take a Hike event with fun prizes, free food, and a chance to win the grand prize—a Cigna-branded duffel bag full of items such as an exercise band, sport bottle, body mass index (BMI) pedometer, lip balm, and sunscreen.

Take a Hike takes place several times each year and promotes the many benefits of walking for health and general well-being. According to OHS, walking reduces the rate of weight gain, staves off dips in energy, helps improve mental health, strengthens memory, and contributes to a lower risk of heart disease.

Despite the 90-degree weather on the day of the event, about 30 people walked the 1.3-mile course, which began and ended at Building 549 and looped around the northwest section of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at Frederick campus.

Delia Croghan, a Frederick National Lab (FNL) employee and a second-year walker, said, “[The hike] is a great way to get out there and get moving, and it’s great to see other people doing the same.”

At the sign-in table, participants learned the course and met with two of the sponsors, Frederick Foot and Ankle and Common Market CO+OP. Frederick Foot and Ankle provided reusable bags and healthy snacks like granola bars and fruit gummies to keep hikers moving. Common Market CO+OP provided reusable bags with coupons for their organic store, which participants could use on healthy fare like the cold, crisp apples the CO+OP gave out to help walkers battle the heat.

Participants started the trek by following the signs, their maps, and any veteran walkers to the first checkpoint, a water station sponsored by the Recreation & Welfare Club at Frederick. There, they paused to get their brochures signed (a necessary step to be entered in the drawing for the grand prize) and take a breather in the shade. Participants readily gulped down water, already thirsty from the first third of their hike under the burning sun.

Sweating in the constant heat, the walkers continued their exploration across campus to the next checkpoint, where Nymeo, another sponsor, provided fans as well as fruit and water. Some walkers even used the chilled water bottles as ice packs to cool themselves down. They were also eager to grab the bright blue fans, and so many fans were moving at once that a breeze gusted around the checkpoint. Feeling refreshed, they then moved on to finish the hike.

Ending where they started, the walkers were met with a final surprise—a high-tech water bottle that keeps track of daily water intake, among other features. Gathering around the sign-in table, participants rested from their hike and eagerly handed in their signed brochures for a chance to win the grand prize.

“I don’t [walk] regularly, but it’s fun walking outside, it makes me think I should start,” said Delilah Johnson of FNL, after participating in the event for a third year.

Take a Hike shows FNL and NCI employees that walking is one more step on the path to good health—and that it can be fun, too.