The West Virginia University Employee Wellness Program has been recognized as a Platinum-Level Fit-Friendly Worksite by the American Heart Association for helping employees eat better and move more.

“Physical activity and employee wellness are important priorities at West Virginia University,” said Margaret Phillips, Vice President for Human Resources. “We are honored and excited to be recognized by the American Heart Association as a Platinum-Level Fit-Friendly Worksite. I attribute this recognition to the outstanding work of the employees in the Division’s Benefits Unit, especially Wellness Program Manager Kimberly Zaph and Director Toni Christian.”

Platinum-level employers:
• Offer employees physical activity options in the workplace.
• Increase healthy eating options at the worksite.
• Promote a wellness culture in the workplace.
• Implement at least nine criteria outlined by the American Heart Association in the areas of physical activity, nutrition and culture.
• Demonstrate measurable outcomes related to workplace wellness.

Currently, WVU employees are participating in Smart Start 2014. The focus of this 6-week, physical activity program is to provide the tools and support necessary for participants to begin making a conscious and deliberate choice to be active every day.

In February 2013, WVU Employee Wellness offered Employee Health Matters, a week of special events focused on the importance of physical and mental health. Topics included healthy eating, parenting tips, relaxation, fitness, managing diabetes, stress busting, and much more. Art classes, fitness demonstrations, free health screenings and open house celebrations rounded out the week of opportunities.

In October 2013, the Money$marts Personal Financial Forum offered a clearinghouse of information and resources related to income, investments, savings, retirement, estate planning, wealth management and retirement for all WVU employees. Along with the forum, the Health is Wealth Expo featured numerous free health/fitness screenings including flu vaccines. Fitness experts and medical professionals provided additional resources on numerous topics such as heart health, diabetes and stress reduction.

The Fit-Friendly Worksites program is a catalyst for positive change in the American workforce by helping worksites make their employees’ health and wellness a priority.

American employers are losing an estimated $225.8 billion a year because of healthcare expenses and health-related losses in productivity, and those numbers are rising. Many American adults spend most of their waking hours at sedentary jobs. Their lack of regular physical activity raises their risk for a host of medical problems, such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Employers face $12.7 billion in annual medical expenses due to obesity alone. The American Heart Association is working to change corporate cultures by motivating employees to start walking, which has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity.

Recognition is a critical component of the Fit-Friendly Worksites program. Employers that join this program qualify for official recognition by the American Heart Association. Qualifying worksites also have the right to use the program’s annual recognition seal for internal communications and with external, recruitment-related communications.

“The Fit-Friendly Worksites Program offers a unique, easy-to-implement opportunity for corporations to increase employees’ physical activity, which will help improve their health – and their employers’ bottom line,” said Kimberly Zaph, WVU Wellness Program Manager. “Even people who haven’t exercised regularly until middle age can reap significant benefits by starting a walking program. A study published in 1986 in the New England Journal of Medicine found that some adults may gain two hours of life expectancy for every hour of regular, vigorous exercise they performed.”

For more information about the Fit-Friendly Worksites program and how it is helping to improve the health of Americans by focusing on an activity that is convenient, free and easy, visit



CONTACT: Kimberly Zaph, Wellness Program Manager

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