Updated May 28 at 9:28pm

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Stepping up with purpose at Shape Up

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PROVIDENCE – The opening event on Feb. 4 for this spring’s Shape Up RI team competition featured former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who spoke about the process of moving from illness to wellness.

Dean, a six-term governor, physician and former presidential candidate, currently works as a part-time independent consultant focusing on early childhood development and health care.

“Right now, the whole health care system rewards illness; it should reward wellness,” Dean told Providence Business News in an interview ahead of the kick-off event. “We should be paying doctors a single comprehensive payment to keep people well.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Peter Andruszkiewicz, president and CEO of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, and Shape Up RI founder Dr. Rajiv Kumar also spoke at the event.

Shape Up RI, a nonprofit begun in 2005 by Kumar, promotes a solution to healthy living in the power of teamwork and trusted social networks. Since then, Kumar has gone to launch Shape Up The Nation, a for-profit, venture capital-backed corporate wellness firm. Shape Up The Nation has been able to scale up Kumar’s social-networking, behavior-change model to the corporate workplace, including the Cleveland Clinic, Pfizer, Hewlett-Packard, Aetna, National Grid and UnitedHealthcare.

Shape Up RI’s team competition will begin on Monday, Feb. 13, and the competition will end on Sunday, May 6. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is the lead sponsor.

Teams of between five and 11 members can participate in competition in four categories – pedometer steps, exercise minutes, weight loss, and fruits and vegetables tracking. Each participant records results on a daily basis online. There are 12 rounds of competition, each lasting a week.

Over the past five years, more than 48,500 Rhode Islanders have participated in Shape Up RI programs.

Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Shape Up RI, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Peter Andruszkiewicz, Cleveland Clinic, Pfizer, Hewlett-Packard, Aetna, National Grid and UnitedHealthcare

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