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American Heart Association Announces Start! Fit-Friendly Companies
Date:9/25/2008

Survey of Employees Proves Worksite Wellness Programs Work

DALLAS, Sept. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 900 businesses across the nation have been recognized by the American Heart Association's Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program for promoting physical activity and health in the work place -- a 20 percent increase over last year.

Start! is the American Heart Association's national initiative to get Americans walking. Most adult Americans spend a majority of their waking hours at work -- many in sedentary careers -- increasing their risk for medical problems such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program participants implement various options to encourage physical activity, nutrition and culture enhancements such as on-site walking routes, healthy food options in cafeterias and vending machines, annual employee health risk assessments and online tracking tools. Those participants who achieve Platinum recognition -- the highest tier -- take the program a step further by actually measuring the outcomes of their wellness efforts.

Wellness programs have increased in popularity in recent years because they are economical and efficient ways to help offset increasing employee healthcare costs, according to an American Heart Association survey.

The survey also showed that fewer than one in five employees evaluate their employer as encouraging participation in their company wellness program extremely or very well. However, employees in these highly encouraging environments are more likely to participate in and value these programs.

"Physical inactivity is an epidemic in our country -- we just don't get enough exercise," said, Dr. Timothy Gardner, president of the American Heart Association and medical director of the Center for Heart and Vascular Health at the Christiana Care Health System in Delaware. "Physical activity is one of the best preventive health measures there is,
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SOURCE American Heart Association
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