Move AZ improves health and community in Health Sciences

March 30, 2023

The program that promotes a healthy, active lifestyle has the added benefit of improving collaboration and comradery.

Members of the Health Sciences Research Administration’s Walkie Talkie teams walk regularly during lunch. There are four Walkie Talkie teams with a total of 26 members.

Members of the Health Sciences Research Administration’s Walkie Talkie teams walk regularly during lunch. There are four Walkie Talkie teams with a total of 26 members.

Building healthy habits does not happen overnight but the administrators of the Move Arizona eight-week program are hopeful that getting people up and moving as a team brings more than just exercise. They hope it also builds comradery.

Three women and one man walking

(From left front) Eloisa Valenzuela-Mendoza, PhD, Babystar Apodaca, Jose Munoz and Layla Salazar, all members of the College of Nursing’s Red Hot Chili Peppers Move Arizona team, take a break from their desks and walk around campus most days.

This year there are 21 Health Sciences teams with almost 150 faculty and staff taking part in the annual program, which ends April 19.

“I joined UArizona during the pandemic, so I felt alone and had a hard time connecting with my coworkers,” said Libby Frino, an admissions advisor in the UArizona College of Nursing and a Master of Public Health Student who is the team captain of the 10-member Red Hot Chili Peppers. “I appreciate this program because it not only brings my team at the College of Nursing together, but it makes me feel more connected to Health Sciences and the university as a whole.”

Movement brings connection

According to Cindy Davis, employee health and wellness promotion specialist with UArizona Life and Work Connections, there are 113 teams with 770 participants university-wide taking part in Move Arizona this year. “I enjoy encouraging people to take care of themselves and their health,” Davis said. “Movement or physical activity is one element of a healthy lifestyle, and our goal is to promote public health and get people engaged with their own self-care.”

Two women walk on the Tucson Health Sciences campus

(From left) Jane Comden and Libby Frino walk ahead of other members of the College of Nursing’s Move Arizona team, the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Frino is the team captain and leads walks most days she is on campus.

Cara Deery, a program manager for outreach and education at the Sarver Heart Center is captain of the nine-person Heela Monsters. “I’m just glad for a reason to connect and get to know people. It’s important to me to relate to my coworkers and Move Arizona gives us that opportunity,” Deery said. Her team has had lunchtime walks and an after-work happy hour.

This is the third year that UArizona Life and Work Connections has held the Move Arizona initiative with the goal of encouraging UArizona employees to build healthy habits such as performing moderate physical activity for 150-300 minutes a week. Participants log their daily physical activity times, which can include brisk walking, dancing, hiking, yoga, biking, yard work and even some housework. Last year, 74 teams with 546 members logged more than 900,000 minutes.

Friendly rivalry boosts activity
A progress poster with a javelina trying to meet its walking goal target

The PRC Javelina Move Arizona team created this poster with a javelina that will progress up the road as the team’s logged activity minutes hit milestones.

The Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health’s Arizona Prevention Research Center has two, six-member teams enrolled in Move Arizona this year. “We set up two teams to have a little friendly competition between those of us associated with the research center,” said Katy Ortiz y Pino, a program director and team captain of the PRC Javelinas. “Our goal is to average 300 weekly physical activity minutes per person. I am motivated by the friendly rivalry, and my colleagues are having fun with it!”

The PRC Javelinas physical progress tracker is a poster taped to Ortiz y Pino’s cubicle wall that includes a road lined with desert flora and fauna and a movable javelina that will make its way up the road as the team logs activity minutes.

Jax Seline, a research project manager and the captain of the other Arizona Prevention Research Center team, Run PRC, said that their team members have found several ways to motivate each other. “One team member created a group chat, and we share workout playlists, puns with our team name and organize group activities,” Seline said. “Competing with the other team is motivating and fun.”

View from above. Several people walking down a staircase in the Health Sciences Innovation Building.

Members of the Health Sciences Research Administration’s Walkie Talkie teams start and end their lunchtime walk by taking the stairs from their ninth floor offices in the Health Sciences Innovation Building.

UArizona Health Sciences Research Administration has four teams with 26 team members. Lauren Gaines, an administrative assistant, is the captain of all four teams named Walkie Talkies 1, 2, 3 and 4. “We go for group walks Monday to Friday at noon and take various routes around campus,” Gaines said. “I like the team building the most. With our varied work schedules, our daily walks have provided a time for people in our department the opportunity to get to know each other while implementing exercise into our daily routine.”

The expanded relationships with co-workers have been an unexpected bonus of the program.

After one of her team walks, Frino said “I learned more about one of my co-workers on a 45-minute walk than I had in almost two years of working together.”