Diseases

PHOTOS: Employees work on wellness with corporate health programs

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Diamond Credit Union of Pottstown employees raise their hands to the sky as they sit with legs crossed during an after-work yoga class. The class was part of the credit union’s employee wellness program.

By Michilea Patterson, The Mercury

Businesses and organizations are looking out for the health of employees by providing wellness programs. Some are even going as far as to get instructors to come to the work site as a convenience.

This was the case for employees of Diamond Credit Union in Pottstown when about 15 adults took a yoga session that was held directly after work hours. The yoga session was part of the credit union’s employee wellness program.

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Diamond Credit Union is one of several businesses that offer an employee wellness program. Employees stayed after work Tuesday evening to participate in a yoga class where the instructor came to the building.

“Our employees are such a wonderful group and they’re very important to us. We just want to give them options on ideas about healthy eating and healthy living,” said Beth Walton, the credit union’s chief human resources officer.

Walton, also an employee wellness committee member, said more people were able to participate in the yoga class because of the convenient time and because it was on-site. She said families and other responsibilities make it hard to get to a different location after work in order to exercise.

Body Go Fitness of North Coventry was the studio that provided the yoga instructor for Diamond Credit Union. Owner Rachel Newby said Body Go Fitness has been involved in several corporate wellness programs in the Philadelphia area.

“We love this kind of outreach, as it is very easy for participants to stay at work for a class, as opposed to individuals traveling to a gym,” Newby said. “Everyone is so busy and the less obstacles there are to getting more fit, the better!”

She said employee wellness programs are a great idea especially when you consider the increasing costs of the healthcare system.

“It’s really a simple, elegant solution to encourage healthy habits or more physical activity,” Newby said.

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Diamond Credit Union of Pottstown employees do hand gestures during a yoga class as part of an employee wellness program. A yoga instructor came to the building and demonstrated techniques to relax the shoulders and hands.

RAND Health conducted a review of the U.S. workplace wellness market. The 2012 report was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The review stated that, according to a 2010 survey, about half of employers that offered wellness programs thought it was an effective way to decrease their firm’s healthcare costs.

The review also mentioned that unhealthy lifestyles are the leading cause to an increase of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and pulmonary conditions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that being inactive, not eating healthy, using tobacco and frequently drinking alcohol are the primary causes of those chronic conditions.

Chronic illnesses were once thought to be common in mostly older adults but they are now being seen more often among the working adult population, the report stated. It benefits a workplace to have healthy employees because illness leads to more sick days and less productivity.

“Results from a 2008 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey found that indirect costs (days missed at work) were approximately four times higher for individuals with chronic diseases compared with healthy individuals,” the report stated.

Newby said healthy employees help businesses to “flourish.”

“Corporate wellness programs encourage less sick days and more productive employees. It is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to show some real investment in their people,” she said.

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Body Go Fitness yoga instructor Dana Killmeyer, front, demonstrates a shoulder stretch for Diamond Credit Union of Pottstown employees. The class was part of the credit union’s employee wellness program.

Walton said the Diamond Credit Union wellness program is meant to make employees aware of their health and offer healthy options. The committee did a needs assessment last year and found that many employees were interested in on-site wellness. Yoga was something the committee thought would appeal to a large population, Walton said.

Yoga instructor Dana Killmeyer said she uses a practical approach when teaching corporate yoga. During the session, Killmeyer described hand gestures, stretches and breathing exercises that can be used during the work day to relieve tension. She said these yoga techniques are great for the work environment.

“You can meditate in a really subtle way and kind of ground yourself if you’re having a stressful experience,” Killmeyer said.

A yoga teacher isn’t the only instructor that has come to Diamond Credit Union as part of their wellness program. Walton said a nutrition teacher came to do healthy cooking classes and another instructor taught a stress management course. There was even a Weight Watchers at Work program where the group leader came to the building to do weigh-ins.

“The employee population lost over 400 pounds,” Walton said.

She said the wellness committee is now considering bringing a Zumba fitness class on-site as well. Newby said Body Go Fitness usually gets requests for yoga when it comes to corporate wellness but they are also able to do other activities. She said boot camps, meditation and flexibility classes are also options they can bring to a workplace.

For more information about Body Go Fitness, visit its website at bodygofitness.com.

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