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Health and Wellness Challenge comes with big payoff

The fourth round of “The Independent Health and Buffalo Bills Health & Wellness Challenge” will start next week and the participants not only will get the chance to look and feel better as Western New York heads toward summer, but go to a Bills game in Los Angeles during the upcoming season.

The challenge, introduced in October 2014 as way to spur more physical activity and good nutrition into the daily lives of all Western New Yorkers, will start next Monday and run through May 29.

It is open to New York State residents 18 and older and you do not have to have Independent Health insurance to participate.

Those who enter and log their healthy habits will be eligible for a variety of prizes, including a grand prize trip to L.A. on the Bills team plane to see them play the West Coast’s newest team. The trip includes round-trip airfare for two, hotel accommodations and two game tickets.

Participants also will be able to attend free boot camp classes on the field at Ralph Wilson Stadium every Monday evening throughout the six-week initiative.

Those interested in participating in the challenge for the first time can register at Those who participated before can log on to the same site.


As has been the case in the previous three challenges, participants earn points by meeting three main daily goals:

• Completing at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day.

• Eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

• Drinking at least eight glasses of water each day.

Participants can also complete one “extra points” challenge each day. Participants who refer their friends, family and co-workers can earn 10 extra points for each person who registers.

The number of points earned throughout the challenge will determine the number of chances participants have in the prize drawings.

In addition to the grand prize to Los Angeles, five participants will be selected at random each week to receive a prize, including autographed Bills memorabilia and gift cards for wearable activity trackers, workout apparel and sporting goods.


Refresh asked Dan LiBurd, strength and conditioning assistant and nutritionist with the Buffalo Bills, what sort of impact meeting the three pillars of the challenge can have over six weeks.

“Adopting these healthy principles can result in the improvement of long-term health,” LiBurd said. “Following these habits can enable you to better your body composition – losing unneeded fat mass and boosting important lean mass – lower your risk for obesity and enhance energy levels. In short, adopting these principles will help to boost your state of well-being.”

Q. How do the pillars of the challenge compare to how the Bills should behave during the off-season?

The pillars run deep within the Buffalo Bills offseason habits. We espouse our players to eat moderately sized meals frequently throughout the day. Vegetables and/or fruit represent the foundation of these moderate-sized meals. So we are always looking to add these nutrient-dense sources to our plate every meal period. This habit allows our athletes to reach five to six servings of vegetables or fruit daily. We also understand that nutrition is just as important as staying active. Our athletes are constantly moving, exercising and performing to the best of their abilities. This behavior not only helps to drive success on the field but ensures long-term health. The pillar of staying active helps to keep individuals strong as well as efficient both physically and mentally.

Q. Can you suggest two or three websites folks can visit for recipes using fruits and vegetables?

There are a multitude of resources available for individuals looking to improve their health and food choices. Websites such as as well as the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute,

Independent Health also suggests its Foundation’s Healthy Options website,