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November 30, 2006
Author Offers Tips for Wellness Programs

Employers big and small are coming up with creative ideas for encouraging employees to live a healthy lifestyle, says Tom Weede, author of The Entrepreneur Diet: The On-the-Go Plan for Fitness, Weight Loss, and Healthy Living.

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"In talking to small-business owners for The Entrepreneur Diet, I found that many were really creative in how they brought a healthy culture to their company," Weede says. "They're proof that you don't necessarily need a lot of extra capital lying around for a lavish workout facility to help employees stay fit."

Weede's book, which will be available in January, focuses on a program of weight training, cardiovascular fitness, healthy food choices, and stress-reduction techniques for busy entrepreneurs. Weede offers the follwing tips and examples from his book for starting a workplace wellness program:

  • Make exercise a work goal--Weede says entrepreneur Gini Dietrich, who owns a growing public relations firm with more than 20 clients, gives her staff an incentive to exercise by adding a billable job code for their workouts.
  • Serve up the right snacks--Weede says Dan Santy, founder of Santy Advertising, keeps healthy snacks in the office lunchroom for both himself and his staff.
  • Give a health-related benefit--Weede says that at Stacy's Pita Chip Company, business owners Stacy Madison and Mark Andrus give a $500 annual benefit to be applied toward anything that is health and fitness related.
  • Communicate--Newsletters and paycheck inserts can keep the idea of health and fitness regularly in the minds of employees, says the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, which works with healthcare organizations and corporations to help implement health promotion strategies.
  • Map it out--Other ideas from the institute include posting a map in the office that measures out a short walking route around the neighborhood, placing some comfortable chairs in a quiet area so employees can take stress breaks, and having a local massage therapist come into the office once a week for inexpensive 15-minute massages employees pay for out of pocket.

"Creating a healthy work environment can be done with a minimal budget," Weede says. "And it not only makes for fitter, more productive employees, it also encourages wonderful workplace camaraderie."

Weede is a former senior editor with Men's Fitness magazine. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association and a Certified Health/Fitness Instructor with the American College of Sports Medicine.

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