"The big reason we are doing this is the holidays are coming up. While everybody works out in January to lose weight they gain during this time, we want to not add that extra five pounds during the holiday season," said Amy Gordin, ReStart's director of rehabilitation services.
"And we want to help businesses and employers control their health care costs - the easiest way to do that is through prevention. The healthier people are, the less they spend on health care and the more productive they are."
From Dec. 1 through Feb. 1, participating teams will keep track of exercise activities, each of which are worth a certain amount of points (see sidebar).
"They keep a daily log which they turn in to their captain weekly, and then their captain turns it in to me," said Kylie Wibbenmeyer, wellness coordinator for ReStart.
Wibbenmeyer said she doesn't think it will be too difficult to get the maximum 15 points in a day. "What's going to be hard is getting your points every day," she said.
Wibbenmeyer said there will be regular updates on which team is in the lead. "The scores are going to be posted in every Wednesday paper," said Sharon Urhahn, director of marketing for Missouri Delta Medical Center.
Team scores will be determined by taking a team's total number of points and dividing it by the number of team members to come up with an average so there is no advantage for large teams.
All members need to fully commit to the effort, however. "One person can pull down your average," said Urhahn.
Ideally teams will have between three and five members, according to Wibbenmeyer. If a team is much larger than that, they will be encouraged to split into two or more teams. Teams must have at least three members.
The City of Sikeston, for example, is putting several teams together from different city departments and will also be competing against each other for internal prizes.
While teams may typically be formed of co-workers, it is not a requirement. "This isn't just for people at work - we're trying to get teams of moms together, civic groups, church groups, charitable organizations," said Urhahn.
"I'd love to get high school students to do it," Wibbenmeyer said. She added this is a competition geared toward adults, however, so high-school students will be the youngest age group allowed to participate.
Some teams have already registered including ReStart staff members. The "ReStart Renegades" and the "ReStart Racers" will be rivals in "some good, healthy competition," Gordin said.
A kick-off event is scheduled for 8-10 a.m. and from noon until 2 p.m. Dec. 1. Teams may register at the kick-off, but are encouraged to register as soon as possible so Wibbenmeyer can have an idea of how many T-shirts they will need. "I've already sent out a lot of packages to teams that are interested," she said.
Representatives from the health department, Regal Health Club, the YMCA, MDMC and a pharmacist from Super D will be present during the kick-off event.
"They're going to be screening for different things like body fat, blood glucose, body mass index," Wibbenmeyer said. "They will do respiratory testing for those that are going to try to quit smoking."
The screenings and tests as well as a T-shirt are all included in the registration fee, which is $10 per team member.
Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place teams as well as some special awards for things like "most improved."
Among the prizes for winners are a six-month membership to the YMCA, heart rate monitors, pedometers and "Shape Up Sikeston" sweatshirts.
Wibbenmeyer said the ReStart staff hope to make this an annual event, and if enough interest is shown maybe even hold it twice per year.
Gordin said she hopes the program "will address the huge increase of diabetes in Southeast Missouri and pre-diabetes that can be completely turned around with exercise."
"There's a lot of complications associated with obesity," said added, "and now they're even linking a lot of cancers with obesity."
Gordin said exercising also reduces in the risk of cardiovascular disease and cited a recent study which determined obese women are 16-times less likely to get cardiovascular disease if they exercise.
Holiday depression and stress are other reason for the program. "Exercise elevates chemicals that help prevent depression," said Gordin.
Shape Up Sikeston! is being sponsored by Meeks Printing, ReStart, Regal Health Club, the YMCA of Southeast Missouri and the Standard Democrat.
ReStart staff remind those who wish to participate that it is important to check with their physicians to determine what program best fits their current level of fitness before beginning any exercise.
For more information contact Wibbenmeyer at 472-7375.