GetHiking! Corporate Wellness Program

GetHiking! is an 8-week, employer-sponsored program designed to take the curious hiker — that is, someone who enjoys walking and has thought about hiking, but hasn’t taken those first steps into the woods — and turn them into a seasoned hiker capable of doing a 10-mile hike in just 8 weeks. We do this through a mix of guided weekly group hikes that increase in distance every week, a personalized cross-training program and individual and group coaching.

What’s the difference between walking and hiking? The distinction can be subjective. Basically, you walk on pavement, you hike on natural surface. Hiking tends to be a little more challenging, with more ups and downs, more twists and turns, the occasional rocks and tree roots to navigate. And there’s a whole lot more natural beauty to see and enjoy.

Why hike? Hiking is accessible (especially in trail-rich North Carolina), most people are physically able to do it, it doesn’t cost a fortune and it’s one of the most popular forms of outdoor recreation: according to the Outdoor Foundation, 24.2 million American adults took a hike in 2011, or more than one in every 10 U.S. adults. It’s an activity most of us can do for the rest of our life.

Health benefits. The health benefits of hiking are numerous and well-documented. For starters, hiking reduces your chances of heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hiking on a regular basis can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 10 points, according to the American Heart Association. A frequent walk in the woods can also reduce your chances of getting diabetes, and if you have the disease, can, coupled with a proper diet, help control Type I diabetes and can actually reverse the effects of Type II diabetes, according to the Diabetes Institute. And a regular  exercise program centered around hiking, coupled with a sound diet, can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. The rate at which you burn calories depends on a number of factors — weight, gender, age, metabolism, difficulty of the trail and the temperature, for starters — but the average person can expect to burn 100 calories for every mile hiked. Pick up the pace and hike at a 4.5 mile-per-hour clip and you can expect to burn 500 calories in one hour of hiking. In addition to the physical benefits there are the mental and emotional pluses: A walk in the woods does wonders for clearing your head — and that’s not us talking, that’s your endorphins.

How GetHiking! works. Our Beginner GetHiking! program has several components:

  • Weekly guided group hike. Once a week we’ll meet at a different trail for a guided group hike. The hikes will start short — two miles for the first hike — and grow in length. Along the way we’ll talk hiking: about how to read a compass, how to follow a map, how to follow a trail, how to read the landscape for signs of the forest’s natural and human history. By week eight hikers graduate from the program by completing a 10-mile hike!
  • Personalized cross-training program. In addition to our group hike, hikers will be encouraged to do one additional hike each week. They’ll also be encouraged to do some kind of activity for each of the remaining five days of the week. What that activity is largely up to them. We’ll give them a short questionnaire assessing their interests, then help them determine the best way to stay active. They might be surprised by what qualifies as active. One of our favorite cross-training activities is working in the yard. Cleaning house is up there, too. And playing with the kids can’t be beat as a way to stay on the move. We’ll help them devise a plan that works with their busy schedule and interests.
  • Weekly coach’s newsletter. Each week, we’ll send out an e-newsletter with tips and advice pertinent to where the hikers are in the training program.
  • Coaching access. Throughout the program participants will have daily access to their coach. Got a question, an ailment, a complaint? Email the coach and get a response within 12 hours.
  • Activity log book. Each participant gets a journal to keep track of their progress. They’ll be able to log their weekly group hike, their individual weekly hike and their other daily workout sessions.
  • Intimate group experience. Regardless of how many employees sign up for the program, no individual hiking group will exceed 10 hikers. If 40 employees sign up, we’ll split them into four groups of 10. This insures access to the coach and the advice and support vital to their success in the program. We’ll work with you to determine the best times to hold the hikes. If employees have flexibility over their lunch hour, we can schedule hikes at that time. We can also do hikes before work (a great way to get the juices flowing for the workday ahead) or after work (a nice way to wind down). We can also schedule weekend hikes.
  • Incentive program. A quarter of the cost of the GetHiking! program is born by the employee. This investment on the employee’s behalf helps insure their commitment to the program. As further enticement, each employee who completes the program will receive a gift card to a local outfitter equal to the amount of their course investment. Thus, complete the course and they get their money back. We can also include any additional incentives you, the employer, would might want to offer.

Why support a hiking program for your employees? Heart disease alone claims more than 600,000 lives a year, according to the American Heart Association, and costs the nation more than $300 billion annually in terms of treatment, medication and lost productivity. The most recent figures on obesity — published in January in the Journal of Health Economics — indicate that this recently classified disease now accounts for $190 billion in health care spending annually, exceeding smoking as the nation’s costliest health issue. The GetHiking! program doesn’t promise to fix your employees’ health care woes. But it will introduce them to an enjoyable, accessible and lifelong way to stay healthy. Our goal is to introduce your employees to a new and healthy way of enjoying life for the rest of their life.

Cost. The cost of the GetHiking! program is $100 per employee, with $25 of that borne by the employee. The cost covers:

  • An onsite introductory program acquainting employees with GetHiking! Includes a slideshow of the trails we’ll be hiking as well as other great places to hike in the region and a handout about the health benefits of hiking, an outline of the eight-week program and a list of places to hike throughout the Triangle.
  • Weekly hikes led by a coach.
  • Weekly newsletter.
  • Activity log book.
  • Email access to coaches.
  • $25 gift card for graduates.

All of the employee portion of the fee is due before the first hike. Half of the employer portion of the fee is due at that time, the remainder upon completion of the program.

Not quite what you’re looking for, but still interested? Chances are we can tailor a program for your workplace.

About GetHiking! GetHiking! is an element of, a health and fitness blog founded in 2009 by Joe Miller with the support of BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina. The GetHiking! Program is an outgrowth of Joe’s 20 years of writing about active living — including a weekly outdoor column, Take It Outside, that ran for 10 years in  the N&O and four books on the subject — coupled with his experience as a hiking coach for CureSearch for Children’s Cancer’s Ultimate Hike program, in which Joe trains and conditions hikers to hike 28.1 miles in one day.

Let’s talk. Call Joe at 919.791.6155 or email me at 919.791.6155 to discuss how GetHiking! can benefit your workplace.

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