Exploring the science of exercise

Last updated 13:00 13/12/2013
Cawthron Institute
MARION VAN DIJK/Fairfax NZ
FIT TO GO: Cawthron Institute employees Kevin Heasman, runner Francesca Harris with her scooter, who came up with the idea, Christina Harris, swimmer, and Ryan Hunter, cyclist, about to exercise as part of a healthy workplace promotion called The Race.

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Staff at Nelson's Cawthron Institute have taken their usual scientific approach to exercise in the workplace.

Calibrations technician Francesca Harris set up an initiative last month called "The Race", which awards points to staff based on the amount of exercise they do during work hours or travelling to and from work.

They get one point for every 10 minutes spent exercising, and can opt to keep their balance private or compete in league tables.

Cawthron employees get extra points if they ditch their car in favour of walking or biking to work, and Ms Harris' system includes a built-in "self-improvement bonus". The staff are rewarded with spot prizes each month.

"Everyone's getting really into it," she said. "I'm really stoked."

The programme works through Cawthron's intranet. Ms Harris, who rode a custom-made scooter to work, said she came up with The Race after overhearing employees talking about how difficult they found it to get a car park.

"I thought, ‘I don't have to care about car parks, I've got my scooter."'

She said she wanted to encourage more people to leave their cars at home, and then decided to broaden The Race's aim so that it could include people who had to drive.

"It sort of developed from there to ‘any exercise is good exercise in our eyes'."

Ms Harris now goes running during her lunch hour, while others choose to cycle or walk. Her mother, Christina Harris, who also works at Cawthron, cycles to the beach and swims in the ocean each morning before starting her shift.

The programme has just finished its first month, and 71 people participated. They logged a combined 44,924 minutes of exercise, saving $860.86 in gas money and 723 kg of carbon dioxide.

The Race will run until the end of March.

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- The Nelson Mail

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