Step it Up online challenges

Step it Up: Holiday Edition has just wrapped up its third year! Did you miss the weekly newsletters? Read them here:
Week One
Week Two
Week Three
Week Four
Week Five
Winners Announcement

Did you participate in the challenge? Take our survey - your feedback helps us plan future challenges!

More details

The Challenge Goal

During the challenge, you’ll earn points to reach a weekly and overall challenge goal. You can earn points in a few ways: through walking and physical activity, by tracking your fruit and vegetable intake, and by tracking and maintaining your weight during the challenge (you can choose if you want track your weight – this is optional).

The challenge goals can be reached through walking and physical activity. Based on research, the US Department of Health & Human Services recommends a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderately intense activity, plus a little strength training. Does 150 sound like a lot? It’s just 24 minutes per day, and that includes brisk walking and any other everyday activities that make you breathe a little harder. Hit this goal and you’ll be making real strides toward improving your health!

You can also reach the goal by taking 10,000 steps per day, or a combination of steps and exercise and tracking your intake of fruit and vegetables.

Challenge point goal:
      200 points per week
      1250 points total 

      Every week you earn 200 points, you’ll be entered in the prize drawings for one of TEN $20 gift cards. At the end of the challenge, we’ll do a grand prize drawing to choose three winning individuals and one winning team for larger gift card prizes.
      Our prizes are always distributed through prize drawings, so it’s not the person with the most points who will win. Everyone who meets the points goal will have an equal opportunity to win.

How to Earn Step it Up Points

Moderate physical activity: 1 point for every minute
Vigorous physical activity: 1.25 points for every minute
Walking: 3 points for every 1,000 steps
Fruit and Veggies: 2 points for every cup
Bonus Points:  You have the option of tracking your weight before, during and after the challenge. If you maintain your weight during the challenge, you’ll get 50 bonus points.

Fitness & Recreation Special
Increase your physical activity by working out at the UCSF Fitness Centers. Increase your step count with Group X classes, cardio equipment, drop-in sports, and more. Offer available 11/14-12/31. Offer details on the Fitness & Recreation website.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Challenge

Why does UCSF offer a wellness challenge?

The UCSF faculty/staff wellness program, Living Well at UCSF, is dedicated to making UCSF an ideal place to work. We’re trying to create a culture where taking time for your health and wellness is accepted and celebrated. Step it Up is a way to make UCSF healthier, more social, and more fun!

Who can participate?

This challenge is open to all UCSF faculty and staff, including postdocs and other trainees.

When does the challenge start? How long does it run?

The challenge is five weeks. It will run from November 14 to December 16. We hope you’ll build healthy habits to carry you through the new year!

How can I track my steps or physical activity?

You can track your physical activity for Step it Up challenges in a few ways:

Pedometer: This device counts steps. If you have one from a previous challenge, you can use it, or you can purchase on for less than $5. (We aren’t giving out pedometers this year in an effort to be greener).
Activity Tracker: There are many popular activity trackers that will count your steps, as well as track your calorie expenditures and sleep. If you have a Fitbit, you can link it directly to the challenge site
Health App: There are many free health applications that you can download to your phone that will track your activity. If you have an iphone, you can use the Health app, which comes with your phone. Other free apps include Argus and Runtastic Pedometer (though there are many others!).
Challenge App: When participating in Step it Up, you can download the app for our challenge software platform that will automatically import your activity into the challenge. This app is called “Extracon Health Tracker” and you can enter all of your challenge entries on the app rather than going to It also has a built-in step tracker. The app is available for Apple or Android devices. To find it, search for “Extracon Health Tracker” in your app store.

Will Living Well keep my information private?

All your information is completely confidential. It is kept separate from any other information at UCSF and is only used for the Step it Up challenge. Living Well will never share any information from Step it Up with anyone, inside or outside of UCSF, unless the data has been carefully processed to remove all identifying or potentially identifying information.

Physical Activity

What counts as “moderate” vs. “vigorous” activity?

Try to talk while you’re doing the activity. If you’re breathing hard enough that you can talk, but it feels like you couldn’t sing, then it’s moderate activity. If you’re breathing hard enough that it’s difficult to talk, or if you’re sweating hard, then it’s vigorous activity. Remember, it’s all about how the activity is for you.

I see “housework” on the list of exercises. Does that mean I can count all the time I spend cleaning?

You can earn points for time you spend on moderate physical activity. That means that you’re breathing hard enough that you couldn’t sing continuously while you’re doing it. For most people, that means you can get points for things like yardwork or running around after kids, but you shouldn’t count things like washing dishes or cooking. It’s up to you to report activity that counts as moderate for you - please be honorable and earn your points!

Earning Points

What do I get points for?

You get points for logging steps, for moderate or vigorous physical activity, and for eating your fruits and vegetables. 

How do I reach the challenge goal?

The basic goal is 200 points per week. You can reach the weekly goal with about 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day, OR walking 7500 steps per day and eating 5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables OR by walking 10,000 steps per day.  Of course, if you want to exceed the weekly points goal, you are welcome to.

Remember, you can only count walking as steps or minutes of walking, never both. Double-counting your steps would be unfair!

You can also earn points by tracking your fruit and vegetable intake. You’ll get two points for every serving of fruit/vegetable you consume. A piece of fruit is roughly one serving (cup), and it takes two cups of raw leafy greens to equal one serving. Learn what your daily servings of fruits and veggies look like here.

Why focus on fruit and vegetable intake?

We asked what kind of challenge you all wanted, and the most popular response was a healthy eating challenge! We’ll be sharing information each week on making healthy swaps to your diet. Throughout the challenge, you can earn extra points by tracking your fruit and vegetable consumption.

It is recommended that adults eat eat least 5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day. For more on specific recommendations, visit MyPlate.

However, the majority of Americans (nearly 90%) do not consume this recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. We hope this challenge will help you meet the daily requirement for fruit and vegetables – one of the most important things you can do for a healthy diet.

How do I track fruit and vegetable servings?

The challenge platform will ask you to report how many cups of fruit and vegetables you eat each day. For this challenge, we’d like you to focus on consuming whole fruits and vegetables rather than juice (so you can get the beneficial fiber). Remember to vary the types of fruit and vegetables you eat in order to get the most nutritional benefit.

Here are some examples of one cup (serving) of fruit/vegetables:
• 1 big piece of fruit is roughly a cup: a banana, an apple, or a nectarine
• 2 cups of raw greens, like spinach or romaine lettuce (this one is a little confusing, but it takes two cups of raw leafy greens to equal a one cup serving).
• 1 cup of blueberries or halved strawberries (use a measuring cup!)
• 1 cup of chopped string beans or baby carrots

Learn more about what a serving of fruit and vegetables looks like here.
How do I earn bonus points?

You can earn optional bonus points for maintaining your weight during the duration of the challenge.

Using the Website

How do I sign up for the challenge? How do I log my activity?

Go to to sign up! Once the challenge starts, you can visit every day to enter your activity.

Where do I get the mobile app?

You can download a mobile app to make logging your activity even easier. This app, called “Extracon Health Tracker”, is the app for our challenge platform software, and you can enter all of your challenge entries on the app rather than going to It also has a built-in step tracker. The app is available for Apple or Android devices. To find it, search for “Extracon Health Tracker” in your app store.

If I miss visiting the website for a day, can I still report my activity?

Yes, you can change the day you’re reporting for. However, you can only go back two weeks, so don’t wait too long! Additionally, if you delay logging your activity, you may miss out having enough points to be eligible for the weekly prize drawings.

The exercise I reported for yesterday is showing up today!

Our web server is on Central time, so if you report activity after 10 PM, it will show up on the following day. We are planning to fix this issue in the future. For now, please make sure that the correct day is showing when you’re reporting.

If you do enter activity that show up on the wrong day, an easy fix is to swap days—leave yesterday’s exercise showing for today, and go back and report today’s exercise for yesterday.

How do I use my fitbit or other tracking device to automatically report steps?

To connect your Fitbit, use the “Devices” link on the left side of the Step it Up website. See here for a tutorial. Devices other than Fitbit are not currently supported.

The “weight maintenance” goal isn’t appropriate for me. What can I do?

If you’re not concerned about your weight or are expecting to gain weight for other reasons (such as pregnancy or drug side effects), you don’t have to enter your weight. The challenge is designed so that everyone can reach the goal without those points.

If you are making an effort to gain weight (building muscle, recovering from an illness, etc), email us before the end of week 1 and we’ll set you up to receive points if your weight goes up instead of down.


Some of the people in this challenge are serious athletes! How can I compete with them?

The goal of Step it Up is for you to get healthier—you don’t have to be #1 to make a real improvement in your health! Try to reach the basic goal, or one of the higher-tier goals. If you like competition, focus on keeping up with other people on your team, or other participants who are close to you on the leaderboard.

Will the person with the most points win the grand prize?

No. Step it Up is designed to give everyone a shot at the grand prize!
At the end of the program we’ll hold a drawing among everyone who met the basic challenge goal. 

What are the prizes and how can I win them?

Our prizes are gift cards, delivered electronically. Everyone who meets the points goal has an equal opportunity to win through a random prize drawing.
♣ Weekly Prizes: $20 gift cards (10 chances to win every week!)
♣ Grand prize (individual):  $75 gift card (3 chances to win!)
♣ Team grand prize: $75 gift card per team member


Can I form a team by myself?

You can start a team by yourself, and invite others to join you. Your team must have at least 3 people on it when the challenge begins. If it doesn’t, then you will be automatically removed from the team and entered as an individual.

How do I join a team?

When you sign up for the challenge, you can search for the team you want to join or look for teams that your friends or co-workers are on. See here for a tutorial. You can also create a new team and ask others to join you! 
If you are looking for teammates, or want to join a team that’s looking for more members, check out our new Chatter group.

What if I want to register but I don’t know what team I want to join?

Please finish signing up anyway, and join as an individual participant. You can change teams using the “change teams” link anytime before the challenge starts.

How do I change teams?

There is a link to change teams on the left side of the Step it Up website. See here for a tutorial on changing teams.

How many people can I have on a team?

Your team can have up to 10 people. If you think you’ll have more people, pick a team member who’s willing to become a captain and start a second team.

Have a question that’s not on this list? Email us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).