WALLA WALLA, Wash.— Through its “WhitFit” program, Whitman College captured fourth place in the statewide Governor’s Community Health Bowl, the Washington Health Foundation announced this week.

WhitFit participants – Whitman faculty and staff – were among teams from 324 organizations that competed in the Healthiest Business Challenge of the Health Bowl. The Whitman team logged 1,862.4 miles.

“The value of exercise for people in academia is not only personal well-being but also professional well-being,” said Juli Dunn, associate professor of sport studies and organizer of WhitFit. “Research tells us that employees who participate in a regular exercise program are less likely to be sick and more likely to be satisfied with their job.  It also shows that exercise increases productivity and efficiency.” 

Earlier this year, Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire challenged Washington residents to log 2.5 million miles of exercise during the six-week Health Bowl. Participants surpassed the governor’s challenge, recording more than 3.1 million miles.

The WHF added the Healthiest Business Challenge to this year’s Health Bowl to encourage health and wellness in the workplace.

WhitFit, Whitman’s employee wellness program, is in its third year. Participation this fall increased 20 percent from last year’s level. “The fall programs created great momentum that we hope to carry into the largest of our programs, the fourth annual Great Fitness Challenge in January,” said Dunn. 

Besides the Healthiest Business Challenge, the Health Bowl includes weekly individual contests and the School Challenge for elementary, middle, junior-high and high schools throughout the state. This year nearly 200 schools participated in the School Challenge.

“By adopting a climate that promotes personal well-being,” Dunn said, “we can demonstrate for our students one way to be a liberally educated person: exercising your body in balance with exercising your mind.”