Most of the time federal employment requires hours upon hours sitting on a desk doing paperwork. In fact, it is even possible that for the whole business day-from 9 AM to 5 PM-the employee need not stand to be able to effectively perform the task at hand. Exercising those legs to keep the blood flowing has to be a conscious effort, and most of the time, whether from the sheer amount of work or through simple neglect or laziness, it’s just easier to just keep seated.
Providing information and education on the importance of healthy living and greater individual responsibility in health matters to federal employees and retirees alike is the aim of the HealthierFeds Initiative. The key elements or four pillars of the program are physical activity, nutrition, healthy choices and prevention, which when practiced in the federal workplace will go a long way towards enhancing the productivity of employees, reducing healthcare costs, reducing absenteeism, helping employees take responsibility for lifestyle choices and shifting healthcare views from a paradigm of treatment to that of prevention.
From January 22, 2007 to April 1,2007, the Physical Fitness Challenge was conducted among federal employees, government contractors, retirees and family members of federal employees to promote health by facilitating positive changes in physical activity levels, behaviors and related attitudes and motivation. Using the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, the participants were encouraged to join in 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity or a combination of both. A survey conducted 12 months after the Challenge revealed amazing results.
Almost half of the federal employees surveyed revealed that they are engaged in more physical activity twelve months after the Challenge than at the start. Most of them revealed that they are now engaged in more moderate physical activity during the week and that after the challenge, the amount of time spent in any one day engaging in more vigorous activity exceeds the time spent doing moderate activities. More than half of the participants also revealed that they are now looking for more ways to fit physical activity into their day and try to eat a healthy diet 12 months after the challenge than at the start of it. The survey results gave rise to the conclusion that the Challenge may have a beneficial impact on shaping the positive attitudes among its participants. The results further showed that a desire to improve overall health, a desire to improve energy level and/or alleviate stress and a desire to lose weight were strong motivating factors to maintain or increase their level of physical activity even after the Challenge. Thus, based on the overall results of this survey, federal employees who participated in the HealthierFeds Physical Activity Challenge are now more physically active and looking for ways to stay fit and eat healthier diets.
Gaining federal employment is more than just having stability on the job. It also means living a healthier lifestyle and allowing federal employees to make informed decisions about their health through the various activities lined up for this purpose. The HealthierFeds Initiative is a model that ought to be emulated by any employer to safeguard the health and consequently increase productivity among those in their employ.
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