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Vol. LXV, No. 14
July 5, 2013
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Stepping Out
Take a Hike Day Promotes Exercise, Camaraderie

Chigasa Odor (l) and Michelle Aikens of ORS

Chigasa Odor (l) and Michelle Aikens of ORS

Hundreds of NIH’ers walked or jogged the nearly 3-mile loop around campus on June 6 during the 6th annual Take a Hike Day. Just before the lunchtime walk got under way, the sky darkened and unleashed a few raindrops, but that did not deter the motivated masses and the weather held out for the duration.

Some 1,500 employees from every institute and center registered to participate. Bragging rights for IC with the most people registered—286—goes to the Office of the Director. For off-campus employees who wanted to take a hike, five routes were set up at satellite locations including Executive Blvd., Rockledge and Shady Grove.

On campus, participants convened on Bldg. 1’s front lawn for warm-up stretches and a motivational speech by Cornell McClellan, the First Family’s personal trainer and a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition.

Despite the overcast skies, McClellan said, “I’m glad to see we all are still motivated, still moving and there is high attendance.” He empathized with how difficult it can be to make time in our busy lives to exercise but noted one couple with an undeniably busy schedule—President Obama and First Lady Michelle—who remain dedicated to regular exercise. He said, “For personal health, productivity and relieving stress, they make time to include activity in their daily routine.”

Participants warm up their muscles on the Bldg. 1 lawn before the hike. Light sprinkles may have diminished attendance somewhat this year. Chris Gaines (l), program manager for wellness and retail services in the Division of Amenities and Transportation Services, poses with the event’s roster of speakers, including (from l) ORS director Dr. Alfred Johnson; Cornell McClellan, fitness trainer for the First Family; and NIH director Dr. Francis Collins.

Participants warm up their muscles on the Bldg. 1 lawn before the hike. Light sprinkles may have diminished attendance somewhat this year.



Chris Gaines (l), program manager for wellness and retail services in the Division of Amenities and Transportation Services, poses with the event’s roster of speakers, including (from l) ORS director Dr. Alfred Johnson; Cornell McClellan, fitness trainer for the First Family; and NIH director Dr. Francis Collins.

Some 35 percent of all American adults are obese and, if we keep on this pace, McClellan said, nearly 42 percent will be obese by 2030. Among its many health benefits, exercise reduces the risk of obesity. McClellan noted that exercise also reduces the risk of chronic diseases—such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and asthma—and enhances mental focus.

The event attracted participants of all ages.

The event attracted participants of all ages.

Photos: Ernie Branson

McClellan acknowledges that a commitment to fitness takes time, but says if the Obamas can do it, most anyone can.

McClellan acknowledges that a commitment to fitness takes time, but says if the Obamas can do it, most anyone can.

Since so many of us have sedentary jobs, McClellan suggested stretching in our offices after several hours of sitting. He recommended checking out www.fitness.gov for active lifestyle guidelines and ideas. “Finding time [to exercise] is critical for overall wellness,” he said. “Find a minimum of 30 minutes a day and eat right.”

NIH director Dr. Francis Collins echoed that sentiment in his welcome remarks. Although he was unable to join the walk, his wife Diane Baker participated and chatted with many who strolled.

Along the way, water stations kept hikers hydrated. At the finish line, each participant received hearty congratulations and a useful gift: a pedometer.

Take a Hike Day was co-sponsored by NIH’s Office of Management, Office of Research Services and Division of Amenities and Transportation Services.

runners and walkers take off at the start of Take a Hike Day, as Randy Schools (l), president of the NIH R&W Association, signals the start leading warm-ups on the lawn in front of Bldg. 1 is Sae Davis
At left, runners and walkers take off at the start of Take a Hike Day, as Randy Schools (l), president of the NIH R&W Association, signals the start. At right, leading warm-ups on the lawn in front of Bldg. 1 is Sae Davis.

Keep Walking

Ever notice the little red heart logos on the sidewalks around campus? They are placed in 1/10-mile increments; count 10 of them and you’ve traveled about a mile. This initiative, Heartwalk at NIH, offers a guide to get us moving. For more on wellness and fitness at NIH—including nutrition, workplace ergonomics and office stretches—visit www.ors.od.nih.gov/Pages/home.aspx.


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