Victoria Gargon, a physician assistant in the medical intensive care unit (MICU) at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, says she stresses to her patients the importance of getting up and moving while in her care. But after getting an Apple Watch to track her steps and compete with her husband, she was surprised to see how sedentary her own lifestyle was. So, she teamed up with her colleague, Alison Eberle, a nurse practitioner in the same unit, to create a steps challenge for their department and motivate their team to be more active at work.
“Highest level of mobility, or HLM, is a scoring scale we talk about every day to measure how much our patients are moving,” says Eberle. “We thought it was funny that our patients are meeting their mobility goals, but their providers weren’t, so we felt like we had to do something.”
As part of the challenge, Gargon and Eberle encouraged their unit to walk at least 10,000 steps each day and put up a chart in the front of the MICU, in Zayed 10 East, to keep track of how well each team member was doing. Gargon says her colleagues found some creative ways to get their steps in. Some took advantage of being on the 10th floor and used the stairs instead of the elevators, while others walked laps around the main loop during lunch breaks.
After a few weeks into the challenge, Eberle says, she noticed a change in the team’s energy. “We kind of had a boost in team morale,” she says. “We found if we took just five or 10 minutes for ourselves, it recharged us mentally to face the rest of the day.”
Gargon wants other Johns Hopkins employees to know that they can find the time to exercise at work, too. “It can be hard when you’re super busy, but at our hospital it’s pretty easy to take a lap, stop by the Jesus statue for a break and then go back to work,” she says. “Just walk around one time and take that five minutes for yourself. You’ll feel better, I promise.”