Antaran Among Business Leaders at DC Summit

The largest-ever gathering of small business owners in the U.S. took place in Washington DC this past week – and CARROT was there.

More than 2,200 business owners participated in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit to network, share best practices, and carry their message about the importance of supporting small businesses to their legislators.

CARROT Founder & CEO Michael Antaran, who completed the GS10kSB program in Detroit in 2014, took advantage of the opportunity to meet with Senator Gary Peters and Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan.

“This was a great program, and it was a tremendous opportunity to share our story with other business owners and leaders in Washington,” Antaran said.

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) with CARROT Founder & CEO Michael Antaran.

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) with CARROT Founder & CEO Michael Antaran.

CARROT's Michael Antaran meets with Congressman Sander Levin of Michigan.

CARROT's Michael Antaran meets with Congressman Sander Levin of Michigan.

Need a Great Community Walking Program? We've Got One!

CARROT, it turns out, is much more than an innovative corporate wellness program.

Last year, the City of Royal Oak (MI) used CARROT to support its “50 Miles in 50 Days” walking challenge for its citizens. And more recently, CARROT completed a 30-day “Survivor” community walking challenge pilot – with the results exceeding anything we’ve witnessed to date.

With no promotion of the challenge (except for its posting on the CARROT Wellness app), 109 people registered to participate. The participants were challenged to make their personalized CARROT activity goal each day for 30 consecutive days.

Among the results:

  • Fully 42% of participants successfully completed the challenge, making their personal activity goals every day for 30 straight days. (That is NOT an easy feat to accomplish!)
  • Getting off to a good start equated to success: those who were successful the first two days of the challenge survived, on average, 25 days.
  • By the end of the challenge, those participants increased their personal steps by an average of 22.2%! (This excludes those who began with the maximum goal of 10,000 steps.)
  • Daily engagement was about 92% overall, and the vast majority of those participants opened the CARROT app at least three times per day.

CARROT's community program allows local businesses, at no cost, to offer incentives and rewards to program participants. The program sponsor has the ability to recognize and promote all supporters on the CARROT app.

In the weeks ahead, we will be announcing expanded community walking opportunities using the CARROT Wellness app.

If your organization is looking for a fun, creative and cost-effective way to motivate your community to be more active, contact CARROT today.

Awesome-Sauce: CARROT Races Past Netcapital Minimum!

Just one week ago, we introduced CARROT’s offer on Netcapital. Today, we’re thrilled to announce that CARROT has already surpassed its $10,000 minimum raise – and is now one of the fastest startups to reach the $30,000 investment mark on the crowdfunding platform!

“We’re ecstatic with the response we’ve already received,” said CARROT founder and CEO Michael Antaran. “Almost all of the initial investors are current CARROT users or customers. These are the people who know CARROT best, and I think that sends a very loud message about their belief in our future.”

For as little as $4.90, you can now purchase common stock and have an equity stake in CARROT through Netcapital. Details can be found at https://netcapital.com/companies/carrot.

Please consider this special opportunity to invest in CARROT today.

CARROT Launches Public Offering on Netcapital

Most high-tech investment opportunities require a significant financial commitment – but for as little as $4.90, you can now have an equity interest in CARROT.

For a limited time, you can purchase shares of common stock in CARROT through Netcapital, a crowdfunding platform.

“There’s nothing like CARROT in the marketplace today.  We’re a mobile gaming company, and we’ve used that experience and expertise to create a ‘gamified’ program that truly motivates even the most sedentary employee,” said CARROT founder and CEO Michael Antaran.

CARROT has raised money through traditional funding channels, but Antaran wanted to be sure that everyone had a chance to share in the success of the company. This desire led to the decision to offer stock on the Netcapital platform. With a few clicks, investors on Netcapital can purchase stock from promising companies such as CARROT Pass LLC.

“We’re viewed as disruptive in the industry,” Antaran said. “But when your wellness program allows you to earn gift cards instantly for meeting personalized goals, while at the same time activity challenges and contests like fantasy football, I suppose ‘disruptive’ is an appropriate label – and it’s one we embrace.”

Introduced in January 2016, CARROT is already generating revenue with more than 15 clients including Henry Ford Health System, Oakland University, the United Auto Workers International, Macomb County Government and Takeda Pharmaceuticals. Those customers currently offer the CARROT Wellness program to 60,000-plus paid participants in the United States, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Finland, the Netherlands, and several other countries.

CARROT’s patent-pending, “set-it-and-forget-it” program uses personalized goals and instant gratification to motivate employees on an individual basis, making CARROT an attractive corporate wellness program for companies of all sizes. CARROT leverages the viral advantages of mobile technology to quickly onboard small employers while offering an affordable, scalable solution for the world’s largest corporations.

To learn more or to invest in CARROT, visit https://netcapital.com/companies/carrot.

Leadership OU Pays Visit to CARROT

CARROT received a special visit this week from the participants of Leadership OU, a student-alumni program at Oakland University.

CARROT Founder & CEO Michael Antaran, who received his Master’s Degree in Engineering from OU, spent two hours with the students, recounting his professional journey from the auto industry to the world of high tech and sharing his “lessons learned” – along with a few tips for making successful mobile apps.

Leadership OU provides leadership, mentoring, and networking opportunities for undergraduate students by connecting them to successful Oakland University alumni. Participants are part of a cohort experience spanning an eight-month period from September to April.

“It was an honor to be asked to host this group,” said Antaran. “And it’s easy to see why these students were admitted into this prestigious program. Each was very impressive, asking great, insightful questions.

“I have no doubt they’ll be extremely successful in their chosen fields.”

CARROT CEO Michael Antaran addresses some of the students from Leadership OU.

CARROT CEO Michael Antaran addresses some of the students from Leadership OU.

Congrats to Macomb County's Winning Team!

Macomb County Government made the most of its first year in the CARROT program. In addition to participating in Survivor Challenges and other CARROT-sponsored contests, MCG had a spirited year-long competition on its "CARROT Leaderboard". 

The leaderboard tracks, in real time, monthly activity progress for all departments/teams in the CARROT program. One team - Corporate Counsel (pictured here) - led for exactly half the year, finishing as the monthly leader six times. The members of that team made their personal activity goals an incredible 86% of the time during the year, far outdistancing second-place Information Technology (66%) and third-place Juvenile Court (63%).

Overall, the number of Macomb County Government participants with a personal goal of 10,000 steps per day MORE THAN DOUBLED during the past 12 months. While only little more than 10% of participants began the program averaging 10k+ steps per day, approximately 25% finished the year with a personal daily goal of 10,000 steps!

Congratulations to Corporate Counsel and everyone at Macomb County Government!

Ignite2Disrupt: CARROT Honored by TiECon Detroit

Recognized for its disruptive approach to health and wellness, CARROT was honored with TiE Detroit’s “Award of Excellence” during TiECon Detroit Ignite2Disrupt 2017, Michigan’s largest entrepreneurial conference.

According to TiE Detroit, more than 500 organizations were nominated for the “Award of Excellence”, but only 20 groups were selected as recipients of the prestigious honor, including CARROT.

“This is a great honor for us. It speaks volumes that TiE Detroit would recognize our unique approach in using technology to drive healthier behaviors,” said Founder and CEO Michael Antaran who accepted the award on behalf of the CARROT Team.

“They were impressed with our gamified approach to wellness, but they were probably more impressed when they saw the data. They saw that we get results – that CARROT motivates people over both the short and long term to make increased movement a new, healthy habit.”

Founded in Silicon Valley in 1992, TiE is a global nonprofit organization focused on fostering and enabling entrepreneurship through mentoring, educating, networking, funding, and incubating. TiE has a network of over 61 chapters in 18 countries with a worldwide membership comprising charter members, successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, corporate executives, and aspiring entrepreneurs.

The Detroit conference provided an array of opportunities to exchange ideas, explore new businesses, discuss emerging technologies, share growth strategies, and obtain insight from global business leaders, community leaders and worldwide experts.

CARROT Founder & CEO Michael Antaran accepted the "Award of Excellence" at TiECon Detroit 2017 at the Detroit Marriott at the GM Renaissance Center.

CARROT Founder & CEO Michael Antaran accepted the "Award of Excellence" at TiECon Detroit 2017 at the Detroit Marriott at the GM Renaissance Center.

Soil is Fertile for Growing CARROT

It begins by weeding out the web portals, passwords and self-reporting (which is hard to do, because they seem to be everywhere!) Then once you plant them, the CARROTs do all the rest. By design, they need very little tending - and take root quickly.

CARROT's organic growth has been spectacular since the program launched in January 2016. We say "organic" because the majority of programs have been launched thanks primarily to referrals and word-of-mouth advertising. Once CARROT completes its current round of raising investment capital, growth will be highly accelerated, to say the least. 

Global growth began in January 2017 when Japan-based Takeda Pharmaceuticals launched a CARROT program for many of its European employees. Today, people in more than a dozen countries actively participate in a CARROT program, and that figure is expected to increase greatly over the next 12 months.

“We came across CARROT while looking for an app that is simple to use. From installation, to daily usage, to evaluating results, CARROT has proven to be a great choice," said Selim Cevik, a Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist and Consultant to Takeda Pharmaceuticals International.

"This is not only a great program, but a great team too, that has gone out of their way to make our corporate challenge fun, engaging and successful.”

World dashboard2.png

If you're tired of programs that never quite take hold, join the rest of the world... and check out CARROT today.

We’re in the news, even if we’re not.

It’s like looking in a mirror.

For anyone interested in corporate health and wellness, Employee Benefit News is a great source of information. And like most online publications, EBN offers a weekly update to subscribers that highlights their latest, most popular features.

A recent issue caught the collective eye of the CARROT staff. Each of the first three articles screamed “CARROT”, even if it didn’t mention us by name.

The first article dealt with how employers using “sticks” to coerce employees to participate in wellness programs were under investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor. (Lesson: Employers should offer programs that appeal to employees so they choose to participate… voluntarily.)

The second story focused on an employer who has experienced huge gains in employee participation by moving its wellness program from a web-based portal to a mobile app. (Lesson: Employees will engage in wellness if it’s fun and easy to do so.)

Finally, the third story talked about the importance of an individualized approach to wellbeing and how “tailoring wellness programs to employees can boost participation and improve results”. (Lesson: One-size-fits-all programs just don’t work. Period.)

CARROT Wellness, with its “gamified” approach giving participants instant gratification for meeting personalized activity goals, is exactly what the industry is talking about – even if it isn't talking about it.

Yet.

 

Sources:

https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/wellness-plans-face-scrutiny-by-dol

https://www.benefitnews.com/news/benefits-leadership-in-healthcare-winner-built-a-path-to-wellness-from-the-ground-up

https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/precision-health-individuality-is-everything

“Freedom Remains Total with Each Step…”

"With the first step, the number of shapes the walk might take is infinite, but then the walk begins to define itself as it goes along, though freedom remains total with each step: any tempting side road can be turned into an impulse, or any wild patch of woods can be explored. 
The pattern of the walk is to come true, is to be recognized, discovered."

-  A.R. Ammons, A Poem is a Walk

 

Editor’s Note: The pattern of the walk will also determine how many CARROT Reward Points you’ll earn. Just sayin’.

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6 Great Benefits of Walking

There are plenty of reasons to be as active as possible – and according to UberWalker.com, there are many great benefits to be gained simply by walking.

As it turns out, walking for exercise will begin improving your health immediately. Why? Because walking…

(1) Puts less stress on your body.
When you run, you put 3 times your body weight into each step, compressing muscles and ligaments and stressing your joints. When you walk, you put only one and a half times your body weight into each step, meaning less stress on joints and muscles and less chance of injury.

(2) Boosts your immune system.
Walking eases stress, increases your circulation, and frees your mind for meditation and contemplation. All of these factors give your immune system a natural boost, which in turn helps your body fight diseases of all kinds.

(3) Increases your metabolism.
The more you walk as a part of your regular exercise, the more muscle mass you build up. When this happens, your body is transformed and your metabolism increases because muscles burn calories faster. You’ll crave unhealthy foods less often and sleep better at night.

(4) Helps prevent major health problems.
Published studies show that moderate walking for about 30 minutes per day lowers your risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes, stroke, and cancer by as much as 40%. Walking also helps prevent osteoporosis, lowers blood pressure, and boosts energy.

(5) Improves your mood.
Besides all these physical health benefits, walking also exercises your mind. Any physical exercise increases endorphins, your body’s natural neurotransmitters that improve your sense of happiness and well-being. Walking also gives you a chance to think, listen to music or entertainment, and dream.

(6) Helps you lose weight.
For some, this is the most desired benefit. Walking helps reduce your cravings for food while burning calories. When combined with a balanced, sensible diet, walking to lose weight is a proven method to improve your overall health.

In a CARROT Wellness Program? Here are 10 Things You Should Know!

If you participate in a CARROT Health & Wellness Program, there are plenty of great features and benefits to enjoy. To make sure you get the most out of your program, here’s our Top 10 List of “Things You Should Know about CARROT”!

 

10) You can earn two different currencies on CARROT.

All CARROT users earn one yellow REWARD POINT for each step they take. This is the “universal” currency used for games, contests and rewards available to the general public. Participants in a CARROT Health & Wellness program also earn one green GOAL COIN each day they meet their personalized activity goal. Since only one coin a day may be earned, this currency is extremely valuable, and it’s why rewards offered by employers typically require Goal Coins to purchase.

 

9) Your personal goal is yours (and yours alone!)

Your personalized steps goal updates every day, and it’s determined by CARROT as a way to encourage you, on a personal level, to lead a more active lifestyle. CARROT is designed to meet you where you are today and lead you to make increased movement a new healthy habit. To prevent people from “gaming” the program and taking shortcuts to receive rewards, CARROT sets all daily steps goals and does not allow for user input, adjustments or modifications. Following the CDC's recommended level of daily activity, your personal daily goal will never exceed 10,000 steps.

 

8) It’s super easy (that’s a technical term) to purchase rewards on CARROT.

Simply tapping on the reward of your choice opens a purchase screen where, if you have enough “CARROT currency” (either green Goal Coins or yellow Reward Points), you can complete your purchase of that item. All rewards require that you provide your email address to receive your reward so that you can be sent a confirmation email. The purchase of physical goods normally require that you provide a valid shipping address.

 

7) Answers to your CARROT questions are just a tap away.

If you ever have any questions about your CARROT program, just check out the “FAQ’s”. There you’ll find answers to more than 50 of the most common questions from CARROT users. You can find the FAQ’s by tapping on the top-left menu button on the CARROT app. And if you need additional help, you can always contact the CARROT Team directly by emailing support@carrotwellness.com.

 

6) You can earn extra Reward Points just by sharing the CARROT app.

The “Refer & Earn” feature allows you to be rewarded for sharing CARROT with your friends. You can find “Refer & Earn” by tapping on the menu button (in the top-left corner). You are given the option to share the CARROT app via email, text, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. Each time one of your friends or co-workers (who has never downloaded CARROT) uses your link to install the app, you’ll receive 1,000 Reward Points – and your friend will also receive 1,000 points! There is no limit to the number of points you can receive for referring CARROT.

 

5) In addition to your employer’s rewards, local rewards are frequently available to you.

Rewards provided by local merchants and nearby special events are made available based on your location – so it’s important that you enable “Location Services” (allow GPS) for your CARROT app to see the rewards available near you.

 

4) Streaks are required to access “unlockable rewards”.

Do you see those grayed-out rewards with an orange padlock on your CARROT app? Those are “Unlockable Rewards” which require that you complete a specified personal goal streak to “unlock” the reward. Because of the additional challenge of achieving a goal streak, these rewards are typically lower priced that other rewards. The number displayed on the padlock indicates the NUMBER OF DAYS STILL NEEDED to unlock the reward. Once the required streak is achieved, the reward will be available for you to purchase (whether you actually purchase the reward is totally up to you!) Please be advised that if you do not meet your goal one day, the reward once again locks and the process restarts.

 

3) You can use fitness trackers to help count your steps.

CARROT is designed to work solely on your phone – but if you own a fitness tracker, you can use that device with CARROT. To link a Fitbit, tap on the CARROT menu button, go to “Settings” and tap on the “Link Fitbit” button. You will then need to log into your Fitbit account. After linking your Fitbit, CARROT will automatically accept the steps data from the device that has the greatest number of steps each day (either your phone or Fitbit).

To use any other tracker, you’ll need to go to the wearable device’s app and then connect/share your steps data with Apple Health (iPhone) or Google Fit (Android). You should open your device’s app to sync steps data before opening CARROT each day. Certain technologies (i.e. Samsung Health, Garmin with Android) require the use of a third-part app to connect. All of this information is available in the CARROT FAQ’s.

 

2) Allowing notifications helps keep you on track.

CARROT will periodically send lock screen notifications when new rewards are posted, as well as to celebrate your accomplishments and to encourage you to continue making progress. And if you are competing in a CARROT competition (such as Survivor or a CARROT “Versus” contest), notifications are sent to keep you updated and to remind you of important deadlines. This is why it’s beneficial to allow notifications from CARROT (these can be turned on through your phone’s settings as well as on the CARROT app).

 

1) Your CARROT account is ALWAYS secure!

Once you’ve created a secure account by signing into CARROT with either your phone number or Facebook, your account (including everything you’ve earned) is secure. If you ever open CARROT and cannot see your Goal Coins or Reward Points, it’s likely that the CARROT app temporarily had difficulty connecting to the server (typically it’s because of an enhanced WiFi firewall). If this ever happens, just log out of the app and log back in using the same method (phone number or Facebook) you originally used to set up your CARROT account.

Walking: Health Care’s Magic Bullet?

Want to improve your health? Get out and walk.

Want to reduce your health care costs? Ditto.

Signs pointing to walking’s not-so-subtle impact on our general and financial health are found everywhere we look.

Even moderate exercise, it turns out, results in significant health care savings. 

According to a 2015 study conducted by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, moderate exercisers (defined as employees who took as few as 5,000 steps per day, or the equivalent of about 38 to 75 minutes of activity) had:

• Annual healthcare costs nearly 20 percent lower than employees who did not exercise, and
• Rates of emergency room visits and inpatient hospital stays more than 50 percent lower than employees* who did not exercise.

The effect of regular exercise on the employee population was found to be one of the “best medicines” for working toward, attaining, or maintaining healthy lifestyles. Even for obese members, evidence showed those who elected not to participate in the walking program continued to have healthcare costs 23 percent to 39 percent higher than obese members who participated. 

Regular physical activity is probably as close to a magic bullet as we will come in modern medicine.
— Dr. JoAnn Manson

Walking is foundational to wellness, not only because of the health benefits of the activity itself, but because it heightens awareness for the importance of well-being in all aspects of our lives. 

When it comes to psychological health, for example, new research suggests that simply going for a leisurely walk can improve mood and boost subjective well-being, particularly for adults who are normally sedentary.

Researchers from the University of Connecticut in Mansfield found that people who engaged in physical activity demonstrated greater subjective well-being. However, the benefits of physical activity were found to vary by intensity. The study revealed that sedentary adults who increased their exercise levels to light or moderate activity demonstrated the greatest increases in subjective well-being.

Dr. JoAnn Manson, Chief of Preventive Medicine at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, once eloquently captured walking’s significance in our pursuit of true well-being.

“Regular physical activity is probably as close to a magic bullet as we will come in modern medicine,” said Dr. Manson. “If everyone in the U.S. were to walk briskly 30 minutes a day, we could cut the incidence of many chronic diseases 30 to 40%.”

 

*Comparison was made between employees who were overweight and moderate exercisers, and employees who were overweight and non-exercisers.


Sources: http://storage.pardot.com/53512/39664/Onlife_Health___Impact_of_Physical_Activity_on_Claims_Costs.pdf
Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317451.php
Source: “The Juggling Act: The Healthy Boomer's Guide to Achieving Balance in Midlife” by Peggy Edwards, Miroslava Lhotsky & Judy Turner (McClelland & Stewart).
 

CARROT Quiz: What's the Value of 42 Million Steps?

During the month of June, CARROT sponsored a sweepstakes drawing for a $50 Whole Foods gift card. (Certainly not a lavish prize, but nice nonetheless, especially for those trying to make smarter mealtime decisions!)

The result? CARROT users submitted more than 8,500 entries, redeeming more than 42 million steps in an effort to win a single $50 prize. That's roughly the equivalent of walking 18,700 miles...  at a cost of about $0.0000005 per mile.

Here at CARROT, we consider that an AWESOME return on investment!

Keep taking those #CARROTsteps!

 

For People with Diabetes, Walking May Help Reduce Health Care Costs

If you could save $9.07 for each additional 100 steps you took, how far would YOU walk?

Participating in a walking program may indeed reduce out-of-pocket health care expenses for people with diabetes. That’s the recent finding by researchers from the University of Michigan Department of Family Medicine and the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Center for Clinical Management Research.

According to their findings, every additional 100 daily steps taken by participants was related to an average individual savings of $9.07.

The research team examined step count data for 7,594 Blue Cross Blue Care Network (BCN) enrollees who participated in its Walkingspree program in 2010. Using data submitted monthly by the subjects, the researchers were able to compare the change in total annual health care costs for the year before and after starting the program.

According to their findings, every additional 100 daily steps taken by participants was related to an average individual savings of $9.07. They also found that, on average, individuals without diabetes experienced greater total cost reductions compared to those with diabetes or diabetes with complications.

Among individuals who averaged at least 5,000 daily steps, the average expected total change in annual health care costs was $872.67 for people with diabetes and $2491.88 for people with diabetes with complications. Although there is an expected increase in health care costs for the average person with diabetes, this increase is relatively smaller for those who averaged more daily steps.

The group presented its findings at the Society of Behavioral Medicine Annual Meeting in San Diego this past March (“Can a Pedometer-Based Walking Program Lower Health Care Costs Among Adults with Type 2 Diabetes?”).

 

Photo Credit (top photo): Vladimir Kudinov http://www.vladimirkudinov.com/

Source: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/03/prweb14166552.htm

Study: Walking Reduces Medical Costs

How can you reduce an employee’s health care costs by $676 per year? Get them to walk another 3,000 steps per day.

According to the Journal of Diabetes Investigation (JDI), a 10-year study in Japan establishes that there is indeed a direct correlation between walking and health care costs.

Spurred by the increasing prevalence of lifestyle-related disease, researchers decided to evaluate the effect of walking on medical costs. Focusing mainly on diabetes, the numbers of subjects with diabetes were 4.3 and 7.3% lower for daily increase of 3,000 and 5,000 steps, respectively.  

Lower medical costs were also seen according to the daily increase in steps.  In 10 years, total medical costs were 5.2% lower for those who increased their steps by 3,000 per day, and medical costs were 8.4% lower for those increasing their daily steps by 5,000.

These potential savings could be significant for employers.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2016 Employer Health Benefits Study, U.S. companies contribute an average of nearly $13,000 per employee in healthcare costs. Using the JDI study’s findings, increasing an employee’s average steps by 3,000 per day would mean a savings of $676 per employee annually – and an increase of 5,000 daily steps would result in a per-employee annual savings of $1,092.

Clearly, the importance of walking on lifestyle-related disease AND medical costs cannot be overstated.

“Closest Thing to a Wonder Drug”

According to Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is "the closest thing we have to a wonder drug”.

He’s talking about (drum roll, please)… walking.

Yes, walking, that most basic physical activity. Thanks to social media, the very first steps taken by pretty much every young tot seem to be shared with the world. From that moment on, walking becomes (and continues to be) a critical, fundamental activity for a lifetime.  

That’s why walking is generally accepted to be foundational to good health. And according to the Harvard Medical School, there are five particular benefits to walking that you may find surprising:

1. Walking counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes.
Harvard researchers looked at 32 obesity-promoting genes in over 12,000 people and discovered that, among the study participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day, the effects of those genes were cut in half.

2. Walking helps tame a sweet tooth.
A pair of studies from the University of Exeter found that a 15-minute walk can curb cravings for chocolate and even reduce the amount of chocolate you eat in stressful situations.

3. Walking reduces the risk of developing breast cancer.
An American Cancer Society study found that women who walked seven or more hours a week had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer than those who walked three hours or fewer per week. And walking provided this protection even for the women with breast cancer risk factors.

4. Walking eases joint pain.
Several studies have found that walking reduces arthritis-related pain, and that walking five to six miles a week can even prevent arthritis from forming in the first place. Walking protects the joints — especially the knees and hips, which are most susceptible to osteoarthritis — by lubricating them and strengthening the muscles that support them.

5. Walking boosts immune function.
A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.

Our takeaway: get out and take those #CARROTsteps today!

 

Source: http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/5-surprising-benefits-of-walking

Where Gaming Meets Health

"You've got to make it fun."

That's what preventative medicine professor Timothy Church said about tracking your fitness in a recent USA Today article. The Louisiana State University researcher made this declaration while defending the value that fitness trackers have in the marketplace.

The fun is lacking, and therefore, so are the results. It's shown with all of the top wearable fitness trackers. It's not shown, however, with the CARROT Wellness app.

So where was this theory proven that combining fitness and fun can be successful? Pokemon Go. It was an app that asked its users to get out of the house and be active in order to compete, and the results were outstanding. That is, for about six weeks. But how can this wellness effort be sustained?

"We've seen a disconnect," said Michael Antaran, CEO of CARROT Wellness. "The data has been telling us that the solutions out there just don't work.

"Before we developed CARROT, we were primarily a gaming company. We were contributing to the sedentary lifestyles out there, and we decided we wanted to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. So we took our gaming mentality and ‘gamified’ health and wellness."

CARROT is a wellness program that, frankly, doesn’t seem like a wellness program. People compete as individuals and as teams. They challenge others, and they challenge themselves. Games are intertwined with other games and, almost as if by accident, users find themselves creating a new healthy habit of movement.

CARROT’s ‘gamified’ approach is different than anything in the marketplace.

"We created currencies that can only be earned by walking and meeting personalized activity goals," continued Antaran. "Meet your goal and earn a coin. Take one step and earn a point. Earn a certain amount, and you can cash them in for contest entries, prizes and incentives."

According to USA Today, there are three main criteria on which to focus for long-term wellness: understanding your current activity, setting achievable personal goals, and receiving support from friends and family. Maybe it's just coincidence, but while large fitness tracking companies scramble to incorporate this recipe for success into their devices, CARROT Wellness already offers it.

First, while tapping into your phone's health data, CARROT automatically generates an individualized goal for you based on your personal activity history and updates each day. CARROT meets you where you are and leads you, slowly and incrementally, to create a new “normal” for activity.

The fact that five-out-of-six CARROT Wellness users begin with a daily goal of less than 4,500 steps demonstrates the program’s ability to appeal to those who would not typically participate in fitness initiatives. CARROT, with its roots in mobile gamification, is effective because it works for EVERYONE.

The larger pool of participants leads to greater social support and makes the program more fun for everyone. It becomes an organization's favorite "water cooler" topic. Participants like that they can compete with and against friends. The app even incentivizes users to share CARROT with their co-workers, adding to the viral nature of the program.

Given that 85% of CARROT Wellness participants open the app at least once a day – many of them opening the app four or five times daily – the program boasts engagement levels that traditional programs can only envy.

Perhaps there’s something to this ‘gamification’ stuff.

"Playing games on mobile devices is fun," said Antaran. "We figured getting healthy should be, too."

Study: Just Two Sedentary Weeks Can Have Troubling Effects

It’s always important to keep moving – but don’t just take our word for it. Ask the researchers at the University of Liverpool.

They recently conducted a study to determine the effects of inactivity. Their findings? Just two weeks of inactivity in young healthy people can reduce muscle mass and produce metabolic changes that could lead to an increased risk of developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and potentially premature death.

The study included 28 physically active young adults who averaged at least 10,000 steps per day, but didn’t really exercise otherwise. The participants were instructed to cut their daily step count by 80 percent, or to about 1,500 steps per day.

“Basically, they took 28 healthy, active people, and they recruited them to be couch potatoes – essentially to see what would happen,” Dr. Frank McGeorge from the Henry Ford Medical Group said in a recent interview with WJR Radio’s Paul W. Smith. “Nothing in their diet changed at all, so all they did was become couch potatoes.”

After two weeks, researchers noticed significant changes in the participants’ body compositions, including loss of skeletal muscle mass and increases in total body fat.

“After only 14 days – two weeks – of significantly decreased activity, all of the participants had a reduction in muscle mass, as well as an uptick in body fat – particularly that more dangerous, metabolically active central body fat,” Dr. McGeorge said.

Bursts over long periods of time don’t really do as much as being consistent.
— Dr. Frank McGeorge, Henry Ford Medical Group

Overall, results showed that cardio-respiratory fitness levels declined sharply and participants were unable to run for as long or at the same intensity as previously.

Scary. So what’s the takeaway here?

“The real value in this particular study is that it shows that very unhealthy changes can occur in a very short time – basically as little as two weeks – and it reminds everyone that it's important to try to be as consistent as possible when you're exercising, working out, or basically staying active and fit.”

Added Dr. McGeorge: “Bursts over long periods of time don't really do as much as being consistent."

In the end, it’s not about running marathons. It’s about getting a little healthier each and every day. Keep taking those #CarrotSteps.