Corporate Physical Activity and Fitness
|Medical and pharmaceutical costs increased $119 and $82 respectively for each BMI unit increase among individuals with a BMI between 25 to 45 (overweight to morbidly obese). (Wang, F., et al. (2006). Association of healthcare costs per unit body mass index increase. J Occup Environ Med. 48(7):668-674.
The year 2007 is designated as the “Year of the Healthier Fed” by Linda Springer, Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (PCPFS) is partnering with OPM to help the federal family be more physically active through the HealthierFeds Physical Activity Challenge (the Challenge). Starting on January 22, 2007, federal employees, retirees, family members and contractors from all three branches of government will be encouraged to be active at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week for a period of six weeks and to track that activity on the President’s Challenge website. Agencies and departments will be “competing” against one another and the winner will be announced after the program ends on March 18, 2007.
In light of this Challenge and the emphasis the federal government is putting on employee health throughout 2007, PCPFSNews felt this issue was an appropriate time to kick off a series of articles highlighting what some of our council members are doing to promote employee health.
The series begins highlighting the work of RunTex CEO, Paul Carrozza. For the past twenty years Paul has worked to improve the health of adults working in Austin-area businesses through a “Corporate PE” program. It has taken awhile, but Paul feels as though he and the team of individuals who help implement the program have finally found the right mix between teaching and hands-on activities to keep participants engaged in the program and on a path towards improved health.
The basics to the program are to help employees train for a local road race (running or walking). It may be their first or 21st 5K. The program takes participants through three months of training leading up to the 5K race (longer training programs are used for longer races). Participants are gradually introduced to a variety of activities in order to help build strength and endurance and improve running or walking form. Beginners start out participating in a one hour class at the worksite before, during, or after work. Workouts for the rest of the week are written for participants to follow on their own. The amount of workouts varies based on the person’s fitness level.
The following are keys to the program’s success:
- Identifying someone within the company who is a program champion. This person may hold a supervisory or non-supervisory position. He or she may not be super fit and may be starting a program of regular physical activity.
- Keeping people of similar fitness levels together. People are assessed up front to make sure they “train” with the appropriate group.
- Having a goal. The race at the end of the program period keeps participants focused, motivated, and engaged.
- Building gradually on successes. Workouts increase in length and intensity over time in order to limit burn out.
- Utilizing the structure of the workplace to keep participants engaged. Work is a typical excuse that people use as a reason not to be active. This program takes away that barrier.
Update: At the running retailer’s convention held in November, Paul Carrozza was presented with the Ubuntu Award for his contributions to the running industry.