Mercy Health System of Northwest Arkansas has been recognized as a Gold-Level Start! Fit-Friendly Company by the American Heart Association’s Start! initiative for helping employees eat better and move more.
“Physical activity and employee wellness are important priorities at Mercy. We are honored and excited to be recognized by the American Heart Association’s Start! movement as a Gold-Level Start! Fit-Friendly Company,” said Scott Street, CEO/ President Mercy Health System. “We’re committed to providing the best workplace environment possible. We know this will benefit our employees’ health and produce even more positive results for our company overall.”
The Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program is a catalyst for positive change in the American workforce by helping companies make health and wellness a priority for their employees.
American employers face increasing healthcare expenses and health-related losses in productivity that cost an estimated $225.8 billion a year. Many American adults spend most of their waking hours at sedentary jobs. Their lack of regular physical activity raises their risk for a host of medical problems, such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Employers face $12.7 billion in annual medical expenses due to obesity alone. Start! helps change corporate cultures by motivating employees to start walking, which has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity.
Recognition is a critical component of the Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program. Employers that join this program qualify for official recognition by the American Heart Association. They are listed on the program’s national Web site, as well as recognized throughout the year in Heart Walk Kick-off and CEO events. Qualifying companies also have the right to use the program’s annual recognition seal for internal communications and with external, recruitment-related communications.
Participating companies also get free access to program resources such as the free Start! Walking Program, materials to help promote company wellness programs to employees, internal newsletter templates and consultation on CPR/AED (automated external defibrillator) programs.
Start! Also offers MyStart! Online, a free Web-based fitness and nutrition tracker for companies and individuals. A “dashboard” feature lets HR or wellness managers view employee participation in Start!
“The Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program offers a unique, easy-to-implement opportunity for corporations to increase employees’ physical activity, which will help improve their health – and their employers’ bottom line,” said Stephanie Daniels, American Heart Association Heart Walk Director. “Even people who haven’t exercised regularly until middle age can reap significant benefits by starting a walking program. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that adults may gain two hours of life expectancy for every hour of regular, vigorous exercise they performed.”