NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Step It Up

NIH’ers Take a Hike, Many Pledge to Keep Moving

NIH'ers stretch together outside before the hike/run.
Warm-ups precede Take a Hike day events.

Photo:  Credit Ernie Branson

“When NIH says Take a Hike, we really mean get yourself in shape,” said NIH director Dr. Francis Collins as hundreds assembled in front of Bldg. 1 to walk or jog the 3.25-mile loop around campus for the 9th annual Take a Hike Walk/Fun Run. It was an overcast, muggy day on June 2, but that did not deter NIH’ers of all fitness levels and one labradoodle—Zilly, the Children’s Inn therapy dog—from making the trek. 

The Public Health Service Brass Ensemble played the National Anthem, Collins blew the starting whistle and off they went, with bright green water bottles in hand, courtesy of the NIH Federal Credit Union. Along the route, staff at hydration stations cheered on walkers and joggers and refilled their bottles with water. The route got altered slightly, due to construction near Cedar Ln., but officers were standing by to direct hikers and traffic.

Some walkers discussed how this approximately 6,500-step hike would help them reach their daily Fitbit or other health-tracker goal. Others talked about how they rarely get out to take a walk and would like to make exercise more routine in their lives.

“The walk was a nice way to see how beautiful our campus is,” said Michele Woolbert of the Clinical Center’s Office of Administrative Management. “It was nice to get outside with coworkers.” 

Musicians in their white uniforms play their brass instruments.
The PHS Brass Ensemble performs at Bldg. 1.

Photo:  Credit Ernie Branson

Her colleague Sandra Ali echoed her sentiments. “Many of us are at our desks all day. This was a great way to get moving.” She added, “I didn’t have much opportunity to walk like this when I was on the clinical side. This is my first Take a Hike in 8 years of working here.” 

Take a Hike is a fun, popular activity to enjoy with colleagues. The event also has a grander purpose—to remind us to move more and incorporate regular exercise into our lives.

“We’re all on a fitness journey, whether this is the first day you’ve come out to walk this year or whether you walk or jog or run every single day,” said Shellie Pfohl, executive director of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, during opening remarks. “Whatever your activity is, wherever you are on your fitness journey, we want to support you.” 

In honor of the President’s Council’s 60th anniversary, Pfohl announced the 0 to 60 campaign, designed to inspire and educate people of all ages to exercise more every day. Take the stairs, park farther from the store, she suggested. There are many ways we can regularly be more active.

Have you seen the Take the Stairs signs by elevators in your building? This year’s Take a Hike Day served as the launch for the NIH-wide Take the Stairs campaign in response to the surgeon general’s national call to action to promote walking and walkable communities, said Dr. Peter Kilmarx, deputy director of the Fogarty International Center. Commissioned Corps officers have posted the signs at elevator and stairwell doors around NIH and will conduct a survey to gauge the campaign’s reach and effect.

“We anticipate a triple benefit from this,” Kilmarx told the crowd. “In addition to improving health, increased stair usage will save energy by reducing elevator use and will also save money.” 

A group of smiling walkers
Walkers always outnumber runners on Take a Hike Day, and many show up in a fine mood.

Photo:  Ernie Branson

NCI fellows Nadia Jaber and Kelley Murfin said they enjoyed taking a break and getting outside. They didn’t know about the paved trail surrounding campus and enjoyed the hills and nice views. 

Dominique Evans, an engineer in Bldg. 13, also didn’t know about the perimeter path around campus. “This was extremely fun and challenging,” he said. “The hike inspired me. I walked with my coworkers and we’ve decided to walk the path weekly now.” 

Photo Gallery

PHS Officers Support NIH Hike

Worthy and Andrews stand by table with water jugs.
Shown staffing the Commissioned Corps water station during NIH’s Take a Hike Day are Lcdr. Tatyana Worthy (l) and Capt. Felicia Andrews.

Photo:  Credit Brenda Harvey

NIH’s June 2 Take a Hike Day marked success of another collaborative effort: the White House initiative promoting a healthier federal workforce and the U.S surgeon general’s call to action in support of walking and walkable communities. 

Among those attending the hike was Radm. Susan Orsega, chief nurse officer, Public Health Service, and NIAID staffer. In addition, Commissioned Corps officers sponsored one of the water stations along the event’s path. 

“As Commissioned Corps officers, we are proud to support such a worthy effort—not only because it is in line with our mission to protect, promote and advance the health and safety of the nation, but also because it is part of the National Prevention Strategy put forth by the Office of the Surgeon General,” said one participant. 

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

Published 25 times each year, it comes out on payday Fridays.

Assistant Editor: Eric Bock (link sends e-mail)

Staff Writer: Amber Snyder (link sends e-mail)