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Employer-Sponsored Workouts Boost Workers' Health

Study at Home Depot saw big increase in employees working out

TUESDAY, Jan. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Encouraging your workers to work out works, a new study says.

Home Depot employees who participated in a company-sponsored program to support workers in setting exercise goals notably increased their levels of moderate or vigorous physical activity.

The findings were published in the February edition of American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

For three months, 1,442 participants set weekly personal and team physical activity goals and reaped incentives for meeting them. After six weeks, slightly more than half of the participants did at least five 30-minute moderate exercise sessions or two 20-minute vigorous exercise sessions weekly -- up from about 30 percent at the study's start. Meanwhile, only 25 percent of those in a control group of non-participants logged similar exercise sessions.

Throughout the study, the participants maintained their increased levels of activity, and few people dropped out.

"The biggest pleasant surprise was the steady and sustained progress. That can probably be explained by the social incentives and support from personal goals and achievements that had direct impact on team success," study lead author Rod Dishman, a professor of exercise science at the University of Georgia, said in a news release issued by Health Behavior News Service.

Key to the program's success may have been the use of group and organizational goal-setting along with individual goals, because they provide vital peer encouragement, Katherine Alaimo, an assistant professor at Michigan State University, said in the same news release.

"Personal and team goals work best when they are self-set, specific about how much activity and when, realistic but attainable and easily assessed, such as by weekly logs or pedometer steps," Dishman added.

More information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more about physical activity guidelines for adults.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Journal of Preventive Medicine, news release, Jan. 6, 2009

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