Workplace Fitness Efforts Beginning to Take Hold

June 30, 2004 ( - Employees of companies that run fitness/wellness programs are darned happy about the offerings, a survey found.

The poll, conducted by the National Business Group on Health, found that more than half (56%) of the companies reported increased morale among their workforce as a result of their fitness initiatives. More than one out of four (27%) said their fitness initiatives resulted in savings in their health-care costs while about two out of 10 experienced increased worker productivity and decreased absenteeism.

According to the survey, employers most frequently offer:

  • onsite f itness center, 77%
  • onsite fitness programs, 69%
  • sponsored fitness programs, 67%
  • informational material on local fitness programs, 60%
  • Web-based tools for tracking and Information, 38%.

“More and more employers are seeing the value of helping their workers become and stay fit and trim,” said Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, in a news release. “Over the past few years, we have seen a growing number of companies implementing various fitness programs aimed at helping workers lose weight, eat healthy and create an overall healthy lifestyle.”

One of the biggest challenges facing companies, though, is getting more workers to take advantage of their fitness offering, Darling said. Indeed, about two-thirds of the companies reported that fewer than 25% of their workers participate in their fitness programs. Three out of 10 reported between 25% and 50% of workers participate, while only 2% said more than half of their workforce takes advantage of these programs.

Other findings include:

  • Sixty-one percent of employers require employees to share some of the cost of their fitness initiatives and 27% fund the programs entirely. The remaining respondents require workers to pay the entire cost of the programs.
  • Most companies (84%) promote their fitness initiatives on their company intranet. About seven out of 10 also use posters, flyers and e-mail to promote their programs.

The results were based on responses from 84 large US employers. For more information about the National Business Group on health, go to .