The third annual On the Road with the Cardinals health competition held for Ball State employees kicked off on Wednesday.

"We really have two main goals: to keep our employees healthy and active, and to also create a culture of well-being within our whole university,” said Rhonda Wilson, the director of health enhancement.

The health activity competition lasts throughout the duration of football season. Faculty members create teams of six to see who can log the most steps within that time frame.

The group of employees started at the entrance of the David Owsley Museum of Art. From there, they travelled to McKinley Avenue, went around past the front of the L.A. Pittenger Student Center, around the statue of Beneficence and ended back at the entrance of the art museum.

“We encourage departments to challenge other departments, or get several teams within a department and kind of have some fun and stay healthy, but have some fun with it,” said Wilson.
President Mearns also took part in the activity and said the event proves that Ball State isn’t a “cold institution.”

"This is a community, a community that supports each other that not only supports growth in knowledge, but also growth in health,” he said.

Mearns, who ran cross country and track competitively in college, said the idea of "gamifying" physical activity makes it appeal to both competitive and noncompetitive participants.

“It’s designed to encourage people irrespective of what motivates them. Whether they just want to get some fresh air on a beautiful day, or whether they want to be competitive and show that they’ve walked more steps or engaged in more activity than some of their friends and colleagues,” he said. 

John Burton, the director of administrative services for the division of online and distance education, was one of the walkers present at the event. Burton said that some people take it more seriously than others. 

“Some people will be super competitive and some people will hopefully use it as a way to motivate them to try to achieve their goals," Burton said. "I think any time an organization tries to help its employees to stay healthy I think that’s a good thing.” 

Dr. Maria Williams-Hawkins, associate professor of telecommunications said the health activity helps combat the sedentary nature of jobs in education.

Last year she and her team competed against themselves, but this year her team plans to compete even more.

“Each of us picked out the number of steps that we should get and then we try to beat our average. I never thought I’d get 24,000 steps in a day until I started trying, so now this year that is what I want to keep shooting for,” she said.