Linda McCord has walked the halls of UAB Hospital for years. It's been her way of maintaining an exercise regimen to help her overall health.

A healthy workforce is important to UAB Health System CEO Will Ferniany and the walking trails initiative originated in his office. The trails offer a health activity for employees and posted maps measure the distance they walk.
"It helps keep my blood pressure low - keep it in check," says McCord, an administrative associate. "I try to do it at least two to three times a week."

Now McCord has a roadmap for her walks thanks to four, newly designated UAB Medicine Walking Trails.

Employees now have two half-mile and mile-long indoor and outdoor walking trails for use at lunch or other times. The trails are named for the UAB Medicine core values: Own It, Always Care, Do Right and Work Together.

The indoor trails are on the second floor of the medical center complex, and the outdoor trails wrap around the buildings.

"The trails are clearly marked and measured so employees can keep up with how far they walk," says UAB Health System Human Resources Executive Director Marty Box. "Employees could complete a shorter route during their break period and perhaps a longer one during lunch. We hope employees will enjoy the convenience of the marked trails and take advantage of the opportunity to exercise at work."

Deb Nuby and Jane McCann have walked the trails almost daily this summer. Nuby, an administrative associate, says the number of people on the inside trails has increased through the summer.

"We've talked to many people who are walking the trails, and they love it," Nuby says. "Even if we don't get to go at our usual time during lunch, we still see someone we know whenever we do go."

McCann, an executive assistant, says she and Nuby typically take the half-mile indoor trek from The Kirklin Clinic to the Center for Psychiatric Medicine and back, for a one-mile-long, daily walk. She encourage employees to get up and move during their workday.

"The fact that they've done this is just fabulous," McCann says. "Wellness programs should be encouraged, and we ought to encourage people to be active."

A healthy workforce is important to UAB Health System CEO Will Ferniany, and this initiative originated in his office. The walking trails offer and encourage a healthy activity for employees and give them a tool to measure the distance they walk, he says. 

"A healthy work force is one of our initiatives, and to accomplish that you have to give employees as many resources as possible to help them accomplish any health goals they have," Ferniany says. "We are an academic medical center and health-care providers, so it's important to offer and support our employees in their desire to live healthy lifestyles."

Other benefits
McCord walks primarily to help her overall health, but she says a 15- to-30-minute walk also can be a great way to relieve work-related stress.

"It's a great way to clear your mind," McCord says. "It gives you an opportunity to step away from you desk and take a few minutes away from your work."

McCann says she also has noticed other benefits on her walk through the hospital - seeing the patients and their families.

"It's a very nice reminder of what we do for a living, what we're involved in and what our mission is," McCann says. "You can sit in one of these buildings and forget that it's about patients. When you're walking the indoor trail, it's a very nice reminder of what we do. You can't help but see them and appreciate your own health. It gives you perspective."

Nuby and McCann say if you're interested in using the walking trails to start a walking program, encourage a friend or two to join you. Don't underestimate the power and accountability the buddy system brings, they say.

"It helps to have someone walking with you, no question," Nuby says. "The time passes faster when you can talk to someone, and it makes or strengthens friendships."

One thing is certain, McCann says: There are no more excuses.

"One of the beauties of the trails is that when the weather is hot or inclement, you can walk inside, and when it's nice outside, you have that option, too," McCann says. "It's the best of both worlds."

Trail maps may be printed from Centernet and may be picked up at information desks in TKC, UAB Hospital and the John N. Whitaker Building and in brochure boxes along the outdoor trails.