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Austin Monthly - Wellness Programs Why You Should Participate Today

BY DR. KYLE P. MAY, MS, PHD, FOUNDER, AUSTIN FITNESS RENTALS

Health, wealth and happiness can easily be achieved by becoming actively involved in a Wellness Program (WP). There are many benefits that come with participation in one of these programs—for an individual, it means lowered health care costs, reduced absenteeism, reduced occurrence of illness, and higher productivity to name a few. It can also benefit an employer by reducing workers’ compensation and disability-related costs and injuries, as well as improving employee morale and loyalty.

Kyle Austin Fitness Rentals in Austin MonthlyI cannot over-emphasize the importance of starting or getting involved with your company’s Wellness Program if one is available. Beyond the obvious health benefits, there can also be some great financial benefits if there is an incentive program for participants. Not only that, the immediate and personalized help provided directly to you can truly be a life-changing event.

Depending on your company and the offerings provided, the benefits can range from discounts on gyms to money back in your pocket for health insurance discounts. I am personally a participant of Dell Inc’s program, formally called Well At Dell, that won the 2013 C. Everett Koop National Health Award for Efforts to Improve Employee Health and Reduce Costs. Dell achieved an 80% participation rate among employees. 10 out of 12 tracked health risks showed improvements, with physical activity being one of the most improved.

If you are a decision-maker for a local small business that does not have a Wellness Program, you should certainly investigate starting one. As of January 1, 2014, there are many more financial benefits available to companies due to new provisions in the Affordable Care Act. Small businesses are now eligible for the Workplace Wellness grant, which provides access to a portion of the $200 million government fund that is now in place. SBs can also get up to a 30% discount on employee health insurance costs for participants. This can get as high as 50% for tobacco cessation programs, which can be very effective. 

As of this writing there is not a specific set of criteria regarding the creation of or participation in a Wellness Program. However, many organizations have done research on the topic and each recommended that wellness education is a big driver for success. A 2013 RAND study released by the Department of Labor breaks company WPs into 3 parts; screening, prevention and health promotion. Another government funded initiative, HealthyPeople.gov calls out key 5 elements of a Wellness Program; health education, supportive environment, integration, linkage to complimentary programs, and screening. Additionally, the CDC released a paper in December 2012 with these 6 elements to a successful workplace WP; financial and organizational support, communication promoting healthy behavior, social support, supporting healthy lifestyles, incentives, and dedication to creating a healthier workforce. 

If your company has a Wellness Program and you’re interested in getting financial support for renting equipment from Austin Fitness Rentals, submit our business name to the Program’s Director and ask that we be added to the list of approved vendors. We’re more than happy to work with your company in creating an equipment profile that is right for employee’s needs. Should that not be possible for whatever reason, contact me directly and we’ll work with you to make sure you get the exercise equipment you want to help you reach and/or maintain your health and fitness goals.



As Printed in Austin Monthly Magazine July 2014
Austin Monthly Magazine