DEERFIELD, Ill. — A week after Walgreens opened its Walk with Walgreens rewards program to consumers, tens of thousands of members have logged more than 1.6 billion steps, company spokesman Jim Cohn told SN. The total includes some of the drug chain's 230,000 employees who were introduced to the initiative a month prior to its official launch on April 6.
Walgreens tracks members of its walking movement through an online community at www.walgreens.com/walk . Once signed in, walkers can log the number of steps taken and access rewards in the form of exclusive coupons redeemable at Walgreens stores. Participants can learn about the health benefits of walking, set walking goals, find local community walks and share content and information with fellow members, either by “friending” them through the site or via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Registrants are automatically “friended” by actress Alison Sweeney, host of the “The Biggest Loser” and a spokesperson for Walk with Walgreens. Sweeney hosts several videos on the site and led a walk through New York's Time Square to kick off the program with officials from the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, American Diabetes Association and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, earlier this month.
Participants can track their steps either with a pedometer or by using a map on www.walgreens.com/walk  that converts routes to steps.
The value of discounts received does not correlate to the number of steps logged, but in order to receive new coupons a member must remain engaged with the site and record their steps week after week, Cohn said.
A coupon for $5 off an Omron Pedometer is accessible at sign-up. Members could also choose between a $1 off any Citracal Calcium product and $1 off two Dasani waters, 20-ounce or 1 liter, during week one of the program. Vaseline, Planters, Bayer, Aleve, Sprite Zero, One A Day, Caress, Extra, Neutrogena, Pond's, Lipton and Degree also sponsor the program.
Walkers can register for Walk with Walgreens online at www.walgreens.com/walk , by texting “walk” to 21525 or in person at the photo department of any Walgreens store. Consumers can also join by taking part in a local Walk with Walgreens event. Earlier this month, 14 Florida locations hosted Walk with Walgreens Family Fun Day & Health Fairs. The retailer will organize similar events on an ongoing basis.
Participation is expected to grow once the retailer fixes a glitch that's preventing some shoppers from signing up with the program online. Several posted comments about the issue on Walgreens' Facebook page. “We're aware that there have been some site issues but we're working to fix them as soon as possible,” said Cohn.
Walgreens has become a proponent of walking since the activity is easy, free and has proven health benefits. “Studies show that up to 30 minutes of walking per day can help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes,” Cohn said.
The drug chain also endorses the activity since its 7,600 stores are located within walking distance (3 miles) of two-thirds of the U.S. population. A promotional video for the program encourages members to walk to their local Walgreens rather than drive a further distance to a big box store. “Walking is a natural extension of the convenience of our stores so it seemed like a natural fit,” Cohn said.