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NNSA and Consolidated Nuclear Security employees take part in wellness challenge.
NNSA and Consolidated Nuclear Security employees gather at the Veterans Salute Races as part of the wellness challenge.

What began as a jesting pushup challenge last fall became a fitness and wellness contest between the executive leadership teams of the NNSA Production Office (NPO) and Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS), NNSA’s management and operating partner at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

NPO Deputy Manager Teresa Robbins had jokingly challenged CNS Chief Executive Officer Morgan Smith to a pushup contest. That idea grew into the Executive Leadership Team Wellness Challenge—a two-month competition to see which team of executives could earn the most points for health and fitness activities. Points were given for activities including eating five fruits and vegetables daily, drinking water, taking an onsite exercise class, participating in the CNS LiveWise health and wellness program, taking part in a CNS-sponsored run or walk, and getting personal exercise and nutrition counseling.

About 25 members of the two teams competed, with the winner judged by the average points per participant. The NPO team averaged 259 points per team member, while the CNS team averaged 302 points.

Nearly all the team members met with experts about health, nutrition, and exercise goals.

“Leadership’s visible support of wellness programming helps create an organizational culture that supports well-being,” said Karen Lacey, CNS health and wellness supervisor. “Many of the team members expressed that they found personal value in this program. In essence, everyone who participated wins.”

Instead of the pushup contest, Robbins and Smith both took the popular LiveWise Boot Camp class, which meets twice a week. Other team members chose yoga or other group exercise classes, workouts in the LIFE fitness centers, or participation in local 5K or 10K races.

“The challenge was a great opportunity, one I’d like to see become an annual tradition,” Robbins said. “I was grateful for the encouragement I got through the challenge to attend the boot camp fitness class, which I enjoyed.”

Smith said the challenge was one way executives could lead by healthy example.

“We want our employees to enjoy healthy, injury-free careers,” he said. “Healthy habits such as good nutrition and exercise help fortify us to meet that goal. As an added benefit, participation encouraged camaraderie that gave the team a memorable shared experience.”

NPO Manager Geoff Beausoleil was recovering from an injury and used a wheelchair during the challenge, so he made physical therapy his exercise. He said sound healthy habits not only make us feel and look well, they also help us heal, too.

“The challenge was a great motivator for us all to make a few healthy changes in our lifestyles, which will boost our energy levels so we can better engage with the entire workforce,” he said. “I see that the real winners of the challenge is all of us, regardless of how the numbers came out.”