Norman, October 5, 2007 – One Norman-area company has been recognized by the American Heart Association for promoting physical activity and health in the workplace. The local company in the Start! Fit-Friendly Company Program is: Norman Regional Health System (NRHS). NRHS’s goal is to help make Norman the healthiest community in Oklahoma and the entire southwestern United States. This begins by promoting the health of our employees and being a role model for other businesses. “The Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program offers a unique opportunity for corporations such as Norman Regional Health System to increase our employees’ heart healthy lives through walking and healthy eating,” said Paula Price, Norman Regional Health System Director of Health Promotion and Community. “The net result is healthier employees, which has a positive impact on all aspects of our business.”
The Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program is a part of Start! — an American Heart Association initiative that encourages employers to create a culture at work that helps employees live longer, heart-healthy lives through walking.
Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program participants are provided various options to implement and encourage physical activity, nutrition and culture enhancements such as walking routes and programs, online newsletters, healthy food options in cafeterias and vending machines, offering employees annual health risk assessments and health programs and tracking tools to motivate employees. Participating companies are provided free access to program resources, materials to help promote company wellness programs to employees, newsletter templates for internal distribution to employees and consultation on CPR/AED (automated external defibrillator) programs.Employers that adopt the Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program are also recognized on the program’s national Web site. Eligible companies can also use the program’s annual recognition seal for internal communications to employees and external, recruitment-related communications. “Studies suggest that implementing a worksite physical activity program and promoting a culture of physical activity will help companies increase productivity, reduce absenteeism, lower turnover and reduce healthcare costs,” said Price. Adult Americans spend a majority of their waking hours at work, and many are in sedentary careers. This amplifies their risk for several medical problems such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Obesity costs American businesses $12.7 billion in medical expenses and $225.8 billion in health-related productivity losses per year. The American Heart Association recognizes that employees have time constraints and responsibilities that often keep them from taking care of their health. Start! helps to improve the corporate culture by motivating employees to walk, which has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity. Even people who haven’t been physically active can reap significant benefits by starting a walking program. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1986 found that people lived two hours longer for every hour of vigorous exercise they performed on a regular basis. Companies interested in joining the Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program should contact the Cleveland County American Heart Association office or visit www.americanheart.org/start to download an application. Applications are due on July 30 for review by a volunteer expert panel. Start! is sponsored nationally by SUBWAY® restaurants, Healthy Choice® and AstraZeneca ®.For more information about the Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program, call 405-948-2123 or visit americanheart.org/start.