Second Annual Worksite Wellness Conference Celebrates Healthy Behaviors

For Immediate Release:  Nov. 25, 2009
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON – Vermonters who are taking “microbreaks,” joining the “Bod Squad” and learning about “hunting-themed” wellness programs will gather together in Montpelier on Dec. 1.

Vermont’s second annual Worksite Wellness Conference will begin at 9 a.m. at the Capitol Plaza Hotel. Decreased absenteeism, lower rates of employee turnover, and lower overall healthcare costs are some of the measurable benefits of Vermont employers who have implemented worksite wellness programs.

“A record 78 companies this year apply for recognition based on the worksite wellness programs they developed,” said Governor Jim Douglas, who will present the awards to Vermont businesses. “Employee wellness programs have gained significant momentum here in Vermont.”

Creative programs include the Town of Ludlow, which earned “Gold Standard” recognition in the 11-50 employees category for creating a “Hunt for the Big Buck” challenge. The challenge encouraged employees, spouses and dependents to walk and hike during deer hunting season, recording their steps on pedometers. Municipal workers and their families lost more than 100 pounds during the winter.

Businesses large and small will receive awards, including Goodrich Corporation for encouraging “microbreaks” for frequent stretching and Gardener’s Supply Company for developing a “Bod Squad” ergonomics team.

Nearly a quarter of health care costs in Vermont are due to health risks such as tobacco use, diet and lack of exercise. Employees who exercise as little as once-a-week have healthcare costs that are one-third to one-half lower than those who do not.

Major sponsors of the conference include the Vermont Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont, and the Vermont Department of Health. Other sponsors: MVP Health Care; Northwestern Medical Center; Fletcher Allen Health Care; Vermont Public Health Association; Invest EAP; Cigna; The Benefits Alliance; and Transformation One.

Vermont employers can access the worksite wellness resource posted on the Health Department website. The guide provides evidence-based, best practice guidance on how to develop a wellness program. The resource provides tools such as how to establish breastfeeding friendly and tobacco free worksites, healthy eating guidelines, and tips on supporting physical activity during the workday. 

The Vermont Worksite Wellness Resource is available at: http://healthvermont.gov/family/fit/worksitewellness.aspx

For more information on the conference, including a schedule of speakers and workshops, visit:  http://healthvermont.gov/family/fit/worksitewellness.aspx. The entry fee for the conference is $30 for employees from companies that applied for 2009 worksite wellness awards, and $40 for all other employees.

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