The ben­e­fits of on-site pro­grams at work

Em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees ben­e­fit from health pro­grams on site

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michilea Pat­ter­son mpat­ter­son@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @MichileaP on Twit­ter

B usi­nesses and or­ga­ni­za­tions are look­ing out for the health of em­ploy­ees by pro­vid­ing well­ness pro­grams. Some are even go­ing as far as to get in­struc­tors to come to the work site as a con­ve­nience.

This was the case for em­ploy­ees of Di­a­mond Credit Union in Pottstown when about 15 adults took a yoga ses­sion that was held di­rectly after work hours. The yoga ses­sion was part of the credit union’s em­ployee well­ness pro­gram.

“Our em­ploy­ees are such a won­der­ful group and they’re very im­por­tant to us. We just want to give them op­tions on ideas about healthy eat­ing and healthy liv­ing,” said Beth Wal­ton, the credit union’s chief hu­man re­sources of­fi­cer.

Wal­ton, also an em­ployee well­ness com­mit­tee mem­ber, said more peo­ple were able to par­tic­i­pate in the yoga class be­cause of the con­ve­nient time and be­cause it was on­site. She said fam­i­lies and other re­spon­si­bil­i­ties make it hard to get to a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion after work in or­der to ex­er­cise.

Body Go Fit­ness of North Coven­try was the stu­dio that pro­vided the yoga in­struc­tor for Di­a­mond Credit Union. Owner Rachel Newby said Body Go Fit­ness has been in­volved in sev­eral cor­po­rate well­ness pro­grams in the Philadel­phia area.

“We love this kind of out­reach, as it is very easy for par­tic­i­pants to stay at work for a class, as op­posed to in­di­vid­u­als trav­el­ing to a gym,” Newby said. “Ev­ery­one is so busy and the less ob­sta­cles there are to get­ting more fit, the bet­ter!”

She said em­ployee well­ness pro­grams are a great idea espe­cially when you con­sider the in­creas­ing costs of the health­care sys­tem.

“It’s re­ally a sim­ple, el­e­gant so­lu­tion to en­cour­age healthy habits or more phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity,” Newby said.

RAND Health con­ducted a re­view of the U.S. work­place well­ness mar­ket. The 2012 re­port was spon­sored by the U.S. De­part­ment of La­bor and the U.S. De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices. The re­view stated that, ac­cord­ing to a 2010 sur­vey, about half of em­ploy­ers that of­fered well­ness pro­grams thought it was an ef­fec­tive way to de­crease their firm’s health­care costs.

The re­view also men­tioned that un­healthy life­styles are the lead­ing cause to an in­crease of chronic dis­eases such as di­a­betes, heart dis­ease and pul­monary con­di­tions. The Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion stated that be­ing in­ac­tive, not eat­ing healthy, us­ing to­bacco and fre­quently drink­ing al­co­hol are the pri­mary causes of those chronic con­di­tions.

Chronic ill­nesses were once thought to be com­mon in mostly older adults but they are now be­ing seen more of­ten among the work­ing adult pop­u­la­tion, the re­port stated. It ben­e­fits a work­place to have healthy em­ploy­ees be­cause ill­ness leads to more sick days and less pro­duc­tiv­ity.

“Re­sults from a 2008 Price­wa­ter­house Coop­ers sur­vey found that in­di­rect costs (days missed at work) were ap­prox­i­mately four times higher for in­di­vid­u­als with chronic dis­eases com­pared with healthy in­di­vid­u­als,” the re­port stated.

Newby said healthy em­ploy­ees help busi­nesses to “flour­ish.”

“Cor­po­rate well­ness pro­grams en­cour­age less sick days and more pro­duc­tive em­ploy­ees. It is a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity for busi­nesses to show some real in­vest­ment in their peo­ple,” she said.

Wal­ton said the Di­a­mond Credit Union well­ness pro­gram is meant to make em­ploy­ees aware of their health and of­fer healthy op­tions. The com­mit­tee did a needs as­sess­ment last year and found that many em­ploy­ees were in­ter­ested in on-site well­ness. Yoga was some­thing the com­mit­tee thought would ap­peal to a large pop­u­la­tion, Wal­ton said.

Yoga in­struc­tor Dana Killmeyer said she uses a prac­ti­cal ap­proach when teach­ing cor­po­rate yoga. Dur­ing the ses­sion, Killmeyer de­scribed hand ges­tures, stretches and breath­ing ex­er­cises that can be used dur­ing the work day to re­lieve ten­sion. She said these yoga tech­niques are great for the work en­vi­ron­ment.

“You can med­i­tate in a re­ally sub­tle way and kind of ground your­self if you’re hav­ing a stress­ful ex­pe­ri­ence,” Killmeyer said.

A yoga teacher isn’t the only in­struc­tor that has come to Di­a­mond Credit Union as part of their well­ness pro­gram. Wal­ton said a nu­tri­tion teacher came to do healthy cook­ing classes and an­other in­struc­tor taught a stress man­age­ment course. There was even a Weight Watch­ers at Work pro­gram where the group leader came to the build­ing to do weigh-ins.

“The em­ployee pop­u­la­tion lost over 400 pounds,” Wal­ton said.

She said the well­ness com­mit­tee is now con­sid­er­ing bring­ing a Zumba fit­ness class on-site as well. Newby said Body Go Fit­ness usu­ally gets re­quests for yoga when it comes to cor­po­rate well­ness but they are also able to do other ac­tiv­i­ties. She said boot camps, med­i­ta­tion and flex­i­bil­ity classes are also op­tions they can bring to a work­place.

For more in­for­ma­tion about Body Go Fit­ness, visit its web­site at body­gofit­ness.com. For more healthy liv­ing sto­ries in­clud­ing recipes visit the Fit for Life web­site at www.pottsmer­c­fit4life.com.

“Our em­ploy­ees are such a won­der­ful group and they’re very im­por­tant to us. We just want to give them op­tions on ideas about healthy eat­ing and healthy liv­ing.” — Beth Wal­ton, Di­a­mond Credit Union

“We love this kind of out­reach, as it is very easy for par­tic­i­pants to stay at work for a class, as op­posed to in­di­vid­u­als trav­el­ing to a gym.” — Rachel Newby, Body Go Fit­ness

PHO­TOS BY MICHILEA PAT­TER­SON — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Di­a­mond Credit Union of Pottstown em­ploy­ees raise their hands to the sky as they sit with legs crossed dur­ing an after-work yoga class. The class was part of the credit union’s em­ployee well­ness pro­gram.

Body Go Fit­ness yoga in­struc­tor Dana Killmeyer, front, teaches a class at Di­a­mond Credit Union in Pottstown.

Di­a­mond Credit Union of Pottstown em­ploy­ees look over their shoul­ders as they stretch dur­ing an after-work yoga class.

Di­a­mond Credit Union of Pottstown em­ploy­ees do hand ges­tures dur­ing a yoga class.

Di­a­mond Credit Union is one of sev­eral busi­nesses that of­fer an em­ployee well­ness

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