News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Business

February 15, 2014

Heart group names fit-friendly companies

The American Heart Association has recognized 47 Indiana companies as “Fit-Friendly Companies” for promoting physical activity and health in the workplace, including 22 recognized for the first time. Nationally, the association recognized 1,802 companies during this application cycle.

The Fit-Friendly Companies program is a catalyst for positive change in the American workforce by helping companies make their employees’ health and wellness a priority.

Even people who haven’t exercised regularly until middle age can reap significant benefits by starting a walking program. A study published in 1986 in the New England Journal of Medicine found that some adults may gain two hours of life expectancy for every hour of regular, vigorous exercise performed.

Fit-Friendly Companies reach Gold level status by implementing various activities and programs to encourage physical activity, nutrition and culture enhancements, such as on-site walking routes, healthful food choices in cafeterias and vending machines, annual employee health risk assessments and online tracking tools. Companies that achieve Platinum recognition — the highest tier — take the program a step further, measuring the outcomes of their wellness efforts.

According to the American Heart Association, companies can save up to $15 for every $1 spent on health and wellness within 12 to18 months of implementing a worksite wellness program. Each employee who works to lower their risk status saves their company an estimated $53 per year; these savings remain each year that employee maintains the low-risk level.

American employers are losing an estimated $225.8 billion a year because of health care expenses and health-related losses in productivity, and those numbers are rising.

Many American adults spend most of their waking hours at sedentary jobs. Their lack of regular physical activity raises their risk for a host of medical problems, such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Employers face $12.7 billion in annual medical expenses due to obesity alone. The American Heart Association is working to change corporate cultures by motivating employees to start walking, which has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity.

For more information about the Fit-Friendly Companies program and how it is helping to improve the health of Americans, visit www.startwalkingnow.org.

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