Employees hit the road for National Start! Walking Day, tomorrow April 8

Thousands of Americans will bring along a pair of sneakers to work tomorrow and embark on a new journey to fitness that starts with one 30-minute walk.

The initiative is part of the American Heart Association’s National Start! Walking Day, a nation-wide effort to get more people of all physical ability levels on the path to wellness.

The American Heart Association chose walking as the main activity in their program because it’s the most accessible, affordable and successful of any type of exercise routine.

"With over 66 percent of Americans considered overweight and obese and nearly 70 percent of the population not engaging in regular light to moderate physical activity five times a week or vigorous activity three or more times per week, we realized there was a dire need to incorporate more walking into people's daily routines," said Timothy Gardner, M.D., American Heart Association president. "Just a few extra steps each day is a simple and easy way to take an active role in maintaining a significantly healthier life."

Research has proven that walking programs have the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity and are the most effective method to get employees to exercise during the workday without hurting productivity, according the the American College of Sports Medicine.

“It’s good business to have physically fit workers,” says David Josserand, executive vice president and chief strategic officer of The Dalton Agency in Jacksonville, Fla., and 2008-2009 national chairman for the American Heart Association.

“A recent four-year sutdy reported in the Journal of Occupational and Environmentla Medicine found that employers can save $1.65 in healthcare expenses for every dollar they invest in fitness programs. Reducing just one health risk in a workplace can increase productivity by 9%,” Josserand said in a Forbes magazine article (pdf).

In addition to healthcare savings, studies also suggest that implementing a workplace physical activity program can help companies reduce absenteeism and lower turnover rates.

Businesses can register for the Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Recognition Program, which recognizes employers who advocate the health of their employees and work to create a culture of physical activity in the workplace. Nearly 1,000 companies were designated Fit-Friendly since the program was launched in 2007.

Participants in the Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Recognition Program are given free access to program resources, including materials to promote employee wellness programs, internal newsletter templates and consultation on CPR/AED programs.

Encourage employees to wear their sneakers to work tomorrow and take a 30-minute walk outside. Even if you can't pull things together to get started tomorrow, set a date in the near future and put your company on the road to wellness.

You can find free, downloadable walking plans and a list of walking paths in various cities at

Related posts:

Obesity linked to more expensive workers’ comp claims

Economic stress impacts employee health, productivity

Employee wellness best practices: Offset the rise in health care costs

Rising health care costs motivate employee wellness programs


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