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Even During Financial Crisis Investing in Wellness is Good Business
Date:10/21/2008

AUSTIN, Texas, Oct. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Today more than ever, employers are looking for ways to conserve resources and improve productivity. "Tumultuous times call for stabilizing influences, and wellness is such an influence," says Jay Seifert, LoneStart Wellness co-founder. "Now is not the time to put workplace wellness and employee health on the back burner. In fact, now is exactly the time to begin to realize the financial and other benefits of a sustainable workplace wellness program."

During a recent presentation at the 2008 Texas Workers' Comp Forum in Dallas, Seifert pointed out that interest in employee wellness is greater than ever and this reflects the fact that employee health care costs are now understood to be a clear risk to growth, profitability and competitiveness. "It's not as black and white as expense or investment. Employee wellness is no longer an option and while organizations are looking to reduce spending, they also know they need to invest in human capital. Where workplace wellness programs are concerned, what starts out as a moderate up-front expense quickly becomes an investment with a demonstrable ROI."

Seifert adds that research shows 34 percent of the workforce is obese and that obesity is associated with a 36 percent increase in spending on health care services -- more than smoking or problem drinking. "Lifestyle choices contribute to chronic illness -- and ultimately higher health insurance costs," says Seifert. "The heaviest employees file twice as many workers' comp claims than do normal weight employees, and their medical costs are seven times higher."

Today chronic illness accounts for two-thirds of a company's health care expenditure, yet 80 percent of all chronic disease is the result of three preventable health behaviors -- physical inactivity, poor nutrition and overeating, and smoking. By creating and promoting a new culture of wellness, an organization's reference point shifts and employees (and their families) are challenged to make positive but realistic improvements in their daily lifestyle behaviors.

By promoting what it calls "Viral Wellness," Seifert says LoneStart is proving that wellness, like illness, can be contagious. "We use the term "Viral Wellness" to describe what happens when an organization's new culture of wellness spreads not only within the organization, but to families, friends and even into the community. The results are impressive -- healthier employees and their families, lower health care costs, reduced absenteeism and improved morale and productivity. These results confirm that wellness is a stabilizing investment, one whose time is now."

About LoneStart

The LoneStart Workplace Wellness Initiative is based on the premise that each of us must take personal responsibility to make better nutritional choices and become more physically active. The behavior-based strategy provides employee participants with the opportunity and tools to make modest yet meaningful lifestyle changes that lead to long term, sustainable results, for themselves and their organizations. Visit the LoneStart Web site at http://www.lonestartnow.com


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SOURCE LoneStart Wellness
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