Midlands Area Companies Recognized for Employee Wellness Programs

September 24, 2008

American Heart Association publishes list in Forbes magazine

COLUMBIA, SC – September 24, 2008 — 13 area businesses have been recognized by the American Heart Association’s Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program for promoting physical activity and health in the workplace.

Adult Americans spend the majority of their waking hours at work, many in sedentary careers — amplifying the risk for medical problems such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Obesity alone costs American businesses $12.7 billion in medical expenses and $225.8 billion in health-related productivity losses per year.

“Time constraints and job responsibilities are employees’ biggest obstacles to exercising. That’s why the Start! Fit-Friendly Companies program encourages employers to allow employees to walk while at work,” said Mona Carter, VP of Corporate Relations.  “Walking has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity.”

“Furthermore, studies suggest that implementing a worksite physical activity program and promoting a culture of physical activity will help companies increase productivity, reduce absenteeism, lower turnover and reduce hard costs. Research shows employers can save $16 for every $1 they spend on health and wellness,” Carter added. 

Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program participants implement various options to encourage physical activity, nutrition and culture enhancements such as on-site walking routes, healthy food options in cafeterias and vending machines, annual employee health risk assessments and online tracking tools.

Midlands companies receiving Gold recognition are: BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, Gulbrandsen Chemicals Inc., Lexington Medical Center, Sisters of Charity Providence Hospitals, Trane (Columbia Coil Center), Westinghouse Electric Company (Columbia), Colonial Supplemental Insurance, Nexsen Pruet, LLC, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, South Carolina Electric & Gas, Square D- Schneider Electric (Hopkins) and the University of South Carolina.

The City of Columbia achieved Platinum level status.

A special advertising section in the Oct. 27, 2008 issue of Forbes magazine will include a list of the 13 Midlands companies participating in Start!.

“These companies should be applauded,” said Carl Hoefel of BOSE Corporation. “They have made big strides in an area critical to our overall health.”  Hoefel and Cable Best, also of BOSE Corporation, are co-chairs of this year’s Start! Midlands Heart Walk.

Companies interested in joining the Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program should contact the Columbia American Heart Association at (803) 806-3092 or visit www.startmidlandssc.org to download an application.  Applications are due in January for review by a volunteer expert panel.

Start! is sponsored nationally by SUBWAY® restaurants, Healthy Choice® and AstraZeneca, and locally by Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina.  This year’s Start! Midlands Heart Walk will be on Saturday, March 28, 2009.  The goal is to raise $700,000.

About the American Heart Association 

Founded in 1924, the American Heart Association today is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of heart disease and stroke.  These diseases, America’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers, and all other cardiovascular diseases claim nearly 870,000 lives a year.  In fiscal year 2006–07 the association invested more than $554 million in research, professional and public education, advocacy and community service programs to help all Americans live longer, healthier lives.

To learn more, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit www.americanheart.org.