News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 24, 2012

Union, Regional hospitals proclaimed ‘Fit-Friendly’


Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The American Heart Association recognized 31 Indiana companies as Fit-Friendly Companies for promoting physical activity and health in the workplace, including 14 recognized for the first time. Nationally, the association recognized 1,358 companies during this application cycle. More than 1,370 additional companies were recognized in the spring, including 30 in Indiana.

The Fit-Friendly Companies program helps companies make their employees’ health and wellness a priority. The Fit-Friendly Companies Program offers an easy-to-implement opportunity for corporations to increase employees’ physical activity, which will help improve their health — and their employers’ bottom line.

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 they performed.

Indiana companies designated this month as Fit-Friendly include:

• Terre Haute Regional Hospital, Platinum

• Union Hospital, Platinum

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, healthy 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 farther by 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 to 18 months of implementing a worksite wellness program. Each employee who works to lower risk status saves the company an estimated $53 per year; these savings remain each year that the employee maintains the low-risk level.

American employers are losing an estimated $225.8 billion a year because of healthcare 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 because of 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 by focusing on an activity that is convenient, free and easy, visit www.startwalkingnow.org.