Cancer is a leading cause of death around the world, and its incidence continues to rise. Each year, 12.7 million people discover they have cancer and 7.6 million people die from the disease. Evidence shows that 30–40 per cent of all cancer deaths can be prevented, and one-third can be cured through early diagnosis and treatment. Research also has found that a healthy diet and regular exercise can help reduce the risk of cancer.
That’s why at GE Healthcare we’re running an online initiative to encourage people to "Get Fit" and join the fight against cancer. The "Get Fit" project aims to inspire people all around the world to seek healthier lifestyles by exercising, eating well and engaging in other activities that foster health — and share their choices using Twitter.
Game on! We’re hosting a global competition to see which continent’s population can “Get Fit” fastest. The more people who tweet about how they are getting fitter, using their country’s designated “Get Fit” hashtag (see below), the faster the cells hovering over their continent (Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Australasia, and the Middle East and Africa) will turn from “risky red” to “healthy green” on the competition’s interactive map. The continent that “goes green” fastest wins.
Each country has its own hashtag (a kind of code that you include in the text of your tweet). For India, the hashtag will be #GetFit_IND, for example, and tweets featuring that hashtag will help to change the color of the cells hovering over Asia on the map. Click your country on the map to see what your hashtag should be.
After the winning continent is decided, at the end of the competition, an open vote will be held on the website to determine which single country will win a donation of $20,000 to the Red Cross or Red Crescent Society that operates there.
So, what are you waiting for? Ready, Set…Go! Let’s get fighting and support the need for awareness around living a fitter, healthier lifestyle. “Get Fit” with GE Healthcare!
Find your hashtag
We welcome everyone to get involved in the “Get Fit” competition, but we do ask that you adhere to the following guidelines:
1. Please only use the hashtags to tweet in relation to "Get Fit".
2. Please include in your tweet a short description of what you are doing to "Get Fit", improve your health or stay healthy; otherwise, we can’t register your tweet contribution.
Get Fit week one roundup
Get Fit has been live for just seven days, but what a seven days it’s been. In its first week, the initiative has seen more than 800 tweets from people in 30 different countries—from Mozambique and Korea to Belgium and Canada.
This is all great, but let’s get down to what we all want to hear about – the competition! How have these tweets affected the Get Fit map? As you’re probably already aware, each tweet tagged with a country’s Get Fit hashtag on Twitter is tracked on our Get Fit map, with the eventual winning country set to receive a $20,000 donation to a local Red Cross or Red Crescent Society.
After 48 hours of the Get Fit competition, the USA stormed into the lead, changing the colour of its cells to a healthier shade of red first. But in recent days Europe and Asia have both surged forward and caught up! South America, Australasia and Africa and the Middle East aren’t out of the race either. If you want to make a difference to the Get Fit competition, then make a difference to your lifestyle and tell the world on Twitter.
The other news this week is that we’ve launched a promotional video to raise awareness of the competition. New Yorkers walking through Times Square may have seen our Get Fit video, telling residents of the Big Apple as well as the wider world how to get involved and where they can track their country’s progress online.
So why are we hosting this competition? You’ve probably heard it all before – ‘get fitter and you’ll be healthier’ – but it really is true. In fact, The World Health Organization lists physical activity as one of the primary means of controlling cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight and staying moderately active are important ways of reducing the risk of cancer, and that’s precisely why we have started the GE “Get Fit” initiative—encouraging everyone to fight cancer by engaging in a healthier lifestyle.
If you haven’t started tweeting yet, what are you waiting for? Grab your hashtag, for example #GetFit_USA or #GetFit_JPN, and get tweeting in the race towards a healthier lifestyle!
Week two – We have a new Get Fit leader!
The USA stormed into an early lead, but now Europe has surged forward—with the UK taking number one! GE Healthcare’s Get Fit initiative has seen hundreds of Twitter users telling the world what they have been doing to Get Fit and help reduce their risk of developing cancer.
Last week we saw how New Yorkers like to keep fit, but what have our motivated Get Fit Twitter users been doing to make their lifestyles healthier?
Using the GE Healthcare Get Fit Twitter hashtag, fitness fanatics have been competing on behalf of their country and continent. So far we’ve seen tweets from all over the world, but the UK has embraced the challenge, with tweets telling of great feats of distance running, walking to work instead of taking public transport and eating healthier foods.
Getting more exercise, eating healthily and watching your weight are ways to help combat the risk of cancer—in fact just 30 minutes of moderate exercise three times a week will help keep you healthier. Don’t worry; you don’t need to be training like an Olympic athlete to get the benefits of exercise: moderate exercise could simply be a short walk to work instead of taking the bus or ignoring the elevator and taking the stairs.
For the GE Healthcare Get Fit campaign, the drama is just beginning. Can the UK hold onto the lead, and which other nations might be looking to overthrow the top spot by showing their dedication to a healthier lifestyle? Only time (and Twitter) will tell!
To get involved, get tweeting right now—and be sure to use the right #GetFit hashtag for your country.
Week three – Is Get Fit really making a difference?
Next year is an Olympic year, with the world’s biggest festival of sport rolling into London to provide two weeks of non-stop sporting action. Every athlete will be there to win, having followed grueling training programs and adhered to strict specialist diets. Ultimately, Get Fit is just competitive fun—pitting countries and continents against each other on Twitter—but there is a serious message at its heart.
Living a healthy lifestyle and getting regular exercise are important factors in reducing your risk of developing cancer. In 2007 the World Cancer Research Fund analyzed 7,000 scientific studies and estimated that healthy eating, exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of cancer by as much as a third.1As you probably know, the whole idea behind Get Fit is to get everyone living a healthier lifestyle.
The WCRF also recommend the following eight tips for reducing your risk of cancer2:
- Be as lean as you can be without being underweight
- Get 30 minutes of physical activity every day
- Try to limit the amount of fatty, sugary foods you eat
- Eat more fruit and vegetables
- Try to cut down on red meat
- Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum
- Cut down on salt consumption
- Don’t take supplements, just try to eat a balanced diet
You can read in more detail about these and more cancer-busting tips here.
But is Get Fit really making a difference? We can only really tell by the activity on Twitter, which suggests that thousands of people around the world are more than happy to tell the world what kind of diets and exercises they are doing. And it’s the little things that count, like having the will power to choose the fruit pot over the iced bun, or walking to the local store in place of taking the car.
The tweets so far have backed this up. From intense gym sessions to small changes to diets, one Twitter user has even taken up Sudoku puzzles to keep his mind healthier!
Get Fit is a fun way of highlighting the way in which your general health and wellbeing can affect your risk of developing and fighting cancer, and if it helps bring attention to this proven connection and how your health is in your hands, then Get Fit has been a success.
Week four – Let technology do the work (sort of)
We’ve made technology a central part of the Get Fit initiative, but how can you use the latest tech to help you improve your fitness and stay healthy? Sadly, technology can’t do the exercise for you, but there are ways it can help you better understand your own lifestyle and kick-start your willpower.
Right now, cell phones are the must-have kings of the tech world. Smartphones, like iPhones, Android phones, Windows Phones and Blackberrys, are now a major part of our lives, with mobile applications bringing the internet into the palm of our hands. Among the thousands of apps available, there are plenty that can help with your diet and fitness.
So how can these phone apps make a difference? For serious runners and keen amateurs, running apps help keep track of your stats, like distance run, time, average speed and calories burned. There are also plenty of handy little apps that help you keep track of your diet. Simply enter your current weight, target weight and a few other vital details and these apps make it easy to record what you’ve eaten and how many calories you’ve consumed (as long as you’re honest). Most of these kinds of applications aren’t trying to be prescriptive—they won’t tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat—they’re just telling you how much you have eaten. It’s your decision to eat that extra slice of cheesecake, not your phone’s!
These apps also teach you that small choices make a big difference. Just a small decrease in calorie intake each day can help you lose weight, and monitoring what you eat can help maintain a healthy weight once you reach your goal. GE Healthymagination's Morsel app suggests small activities and tips for leading a healthier lifestyle, like easy desk exercises and cutting down on salt. It’s not just major lifestyle changes that make a difference, it’s the small things too!
The American public have clearly taken this to heart, as they are the nation on top of the leader board for the Get Fit competition, but overall it’s Europe, Asia and Africa and the Middle East that share the lead when it comes to continents so far. Get Fit has now received more than 4,000 individual tweets!
Let us know what kind of technologies you are using to help you stay healthy. Be sure to add the #GetFit_[Country] hashtag to your tweets, or else it won’t count towards the competition!
But don’t let the technology rule your life, remember to stay healthy in between tweets!
Getting serious about getting fit
How’s your health and fitness drive going? So far, we’ve only talked about the small changes to your diet and level of physical activity that can make a difference for your long term health, but what if you want to make big changes?
Crash dieting can be hazardous, as your body can miss out on vital nutrients and fall into ‘starvation mode’, when your metabolism makes it harder to burn fat cells as it thinks food has become scarce. Increased physical activity is the answer, but most people don’t have time to commit to a serious, vigorous training schedule. If you do, you’ll need to first think about what you want to achieve.
A few visits with qualified personal trainer may be just what you need for fitness advice tailored to you. And remember, there’s an added reason to get fit and stay active: the World Cancer Research Fund says that exercise helps prevent certain forms of cancer.
Types of exercise can be broadly split into two categories: cardiovascular and strength. If your goal is to lose weight, cardiovascular exercises (such as running, cycling, etc.) get your heart pumping and blood flowing. Strength exercises – lifting weights and other resistance activities – are good for bulking-up and increasing muscle mass.
The ideal exercise regime will combine both cardiovascular and strength exercises, with the balance reflecting your personal fitness goals. If you have led an inactive lifestyle before embarking on your new serious exercise plan, then you’ll naturally find it tough-going at first. That’s why seeking advice from a good personal trainer to find out how to approach your exercise activities can be a key to success. But if you haven't exercised for some time and you have health concerns, you may want to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise plan.
Although obesity is described as an international epidemic, populations around the world are also becoming more aware of the importance of a healthy diet and staying active. The Get Fit initiative has tried to promote this healthy lifestyle message, but which countries have really got involved? Recently the lead has been alternating between the USA and UK, and this week the UK has reclaimed the top spot, with Japan in third place.
Staying fit and active takes dedication and willpower, so make sure you tell the world what you’ve been up to by using the GE Get Fit hashtag. It might give you the extra motivation you were looking for!