State wants Oklahoma workers to Get Fit

Wednesday, September 24th 2008, 6:54 pm

By: News 9

By Audrey Esther,

The office buffet seems to be an office staple these days. However, what's not usually an office staple exercise equipment to help employees burn off all those calories.

Unless you work at Hometown Healthcare where for the last 6 months the owner has challenged employees to lose weight and get healthy.

"The weight loss challenge is a challenge to the employees to lose weight and be more healthy," said Aimee Swickey an employee participating in the challenge.

It's simple. The employees who lose the most weight win prizes but for Swickey it's about more than just the cash or an iPod.  

 "When you're healthier you feel better and you work better," Swickey said. "Our employees are sick less, they're more productive and just happier all the way around."

Company policies like this are still the exception and not the rule but state officials want to change that. Health officials recently announced the Get Fit Eat Smart OK plan. The goal is to reduce obesity and encourage healthier lifestyles for Oklahoman's in the home, at school and at work.

"There's nothing easy about this. This is a long-term effort that takes thousands of people pulling on that rope to get us where we need to be," said Dr. James M. Crutcher, State Secretary of Health.

Until now, Crutcher said most state health initiatives have focused primarily on children and schools. However, the majority of Oklahoman's spend a third of their day or more at the work place and more than 60 percent of those employees are sitting most of the time.

"We need to start focusing efforts in getting business involved and teaching them ways they can get their employees healthier," Crutcher said.

Crutcher admits this is easier said than done but raising awareness about the financial benefits of having healthier employees he said might be enough to get more companies on board.

"Healthier employees are better employees that have less health care costs, that are at work more often and are more productive while they're on the job," he said.

According to the Center's for Disease Control and Prevention, Oklahoma is the 8th highest in the nation for obesity and is tied for 6th for high school students.


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