Poor diet and lack of exercise – two major contributors to risk of heart disease – are responsible for at least 25 percent of healthcare costs incurred by working adults. And, an estimated 25–30 percent of companies’ annual medical costs are spent on employees with excess health risk defined in large part by their risk for cardiovascular disease. Worksite wellness programs are a proven strategy to prevent the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. By creating a wellness environment, companies can help lower healthcare costs and protect its most important resource — their employees.
Through their Fit- Friendly Company Recognition program, the American Heart Association is taking a leading role in offering a solution by creating a corporate culture of health and wellness, improving the health of all Americans and reducing the financial burden brought on by a lifestyle of inactivity and poor nutrition.
The American Heart Association recently revealed its 2011 list of Fit-Friendly Companies. With more than 1,800 companies recognized — an all-time high — employers are clearly getting the message about worksite wellness.
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 further by measuring the outcomes of their wellness efforts and showing a 10 percent annual improvement.
The bottom line: research shows that companies can save anywhere from $3 to $15 for every $1 spent on health and wellness within 12 to 18 months of implementing a worksite wellness program. Beyond cost savings and increased productivity, visionary employers are realizing the value of an employee’s total health. An effective worksite wellness program can attract exceptional employees, enhance morale and reduce organizational conflict.
It is easy to gain recognition for the work your company is doing to promote good health in the workplace and prevent heart disease. To apply to become a Fit-Friendly Company visit http://ffc.heart.org. An American Heart Association expert panel will review the application and award recognition to qualifying applicants. Each year, Fit-Friendly status can be renewed by revisiting the Fit-Friendly website.