The 'expanding' work force
Area employers offer variety of ways to help workers combat idle habits
Sara Sauer and Tracy jackowich (r) exercise with a ream of paper at the CommunityWide Federal Credit Union in Elkhart. (South Bend Tribune File Photo/SANTIAGO FLORES)
The weight piled on, she said, because of the sedentary nature of her job coupled with her bad habit of eating fast food for lunch every day.
About two years ago, the now 25-year-old had an epiphany.
“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh. What am I doing?,’” she said.
It was then that Sauer took hold of her health and lost 50 pounds.
Some of that weight has crept back on, she said, but with the help of a new program offered by her employer, CommunityWide Federal Credit Union in Elkhart, she’s back on track.
Among other things, the program allows employees to earn points for doing certain types of physical activities.
Each person tracks their own points on a website. Eventually, they can be used for prizes like iPods, Kindles or even cash.
Employees take advantage of breaks during the work day to do short bursts of group activities - which they take turns choosing - Sauer, who is the office manager of the Cassopolis Street branch, said.
One day it might be 15 lunges. The next it could be dancing around the hallway to music queued up on a cell phone.
It’s a fun way of working activity into what would otherwise be a day of sitting in front of computers.
New research about changes in the labor force since 1960 suggests a major factor behind one in three Americans being obese is the decline in physical activity during the workday.
Many area employers are responding by offering employees the opportunity to get moving both during the workday and before and after it.
And the benefits, some say, outweigh the costs.
Nicole Fallowfield, director of health risk management for Gibson Insurance Group, a South Bend company that offers risk management, insurance and employee benefits services, said there indeed is great interest among employers in offering wellness programs that have an exercise component these days.
From on-site fitness classes to pedometer campaigns and required stretch breaks, she said, companies are using a variety of ways to get employees moving.
“We’re tethered to our desks,” she said, “We have desktop printers, mobile devices.”
Internally at Gibson, she said, the culture being cultivated is that it’s acceptable for employees to get up from their desks.