Updated March 23 at 6:25am

Stepping up with purpose at Shape Up


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.


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