Shape Up RI Announces 2012 Summer Challenge

May 16, 2012 – [Providence] Shape Up RI, the popular, widely respected and award winning statewide exercise and healthy eating program, announces its 2012 summer challenge. Participants will compete in four categories: pedometer steps, weight loss, exercise minutes and fruit & veggie consumption.

“Summer is an ideal time to focus on physical activity and nutrition,” said Shape Up RI Chairman and Founder Dr. Rajiv Kumar. “We are encouraging Rhode Islanders to sign up and get healthy this season by spending time in our beautiful state parks and bike paths, and by visiting local farmers markets.”

May is shaping up to be a busy month for Dr. Kumar. On Wednesday May 23rd, Shape Up RI Day—a free lunchtime event at Waterplace Park cosponsored by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island—will feature Pete Thomas, author and Season 2 At-Home Winner of NBC’s The Biggest Loser.

“We just wrapped up our spring competition,” said Dr. Kumar, “and we’re already looking forward to the summer.”

The 8-week summer challenge is very similar to the annual 12-week Shape Up RI spring competition, which concluded on May 4th. There are a few new web features, including eight distinct weekly bonus challenges to help keep participants engaged over the hot summer months.

“In terms of unhealthy eating and lack of physical activity, summer doesn’t have as bad a reputation as winter does,” Dr. Kumar said. “November and December are the months everyone says they have difficulty with but summer is just as challenging for a lot of people.”

Warmer weather means months of backyard barbecues and summer blockbusters, a dangerous combination that can lead to overeating and under-exercising. Rhode Islanders wishing to participate can now get a head start and begin logging data like exercise minutes and pedometer steps before the competition begins.

“Of course, everybody starts at zero when the competition begins,” Dr. Kumar said with a smile. “We just want people to get in the habit of setting goals and tracking their progress.”

Dr. Kumar has good reason to smile. According to a study released earlier this year, weight loss is socially communicable. The study, conducted by Rhode Island-based researchers at The Miriam Hospital and Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School and published in the journalObesity, concluded that 2009 participants in Shape Up RI were demonstrably motivated by the progress of their teammates.

The study concluded that participants in the online program who sought to lose weight alongside colleagues, friends and family members reported comparable weight loss to the rest of their team. Further, the findings suggest that participants who attributed their achievements to their teammates were the most successful in dropping unwanted pounds. As a result of the study’s findings, Shape Up RI has received international media attention this year.

“We believe this is the first study of its kind to show that weight loss in a team-based wellness program is contagious, in effect spreading from one person to another,” said Dr. Kumar. “This has huge implications for public health strategies.”

Now in its seventh year, Shape Up RI has already helped 70,000 Rhode Islanders reduce BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol and weight by improving eating habits and increasing physical activity.

Registration for the 8-week Shape Up RI summer competition begins on May 28th. The competition begins on June 25th and runs through August 19th. The low $20 registration fee is waived for employees of all participating employers. Employers can find out more information about Shape Up RI by visiting www.shapeupri.org or calling (401) 421-0608.

About Shape Up RI

Founded in 2005 by Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Shape Up RI is a fun, team-based fitness and healthy eating competition designed to help Rhode Islanders lead healthier lifestyles. For more information, please visit www.shapeupri.org.

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