Monthly Archives: April 2009

Resources, Tips, Sharing, And Helpful Hints Are Useful Benefits of Wellness Manager Discussion Group Membership

Pedometers, HRA resources, on-line wellness education resources, fitness center management software, signage to promote walking, guidelines for a wellness visit, studies on stress and workplace outcomes wellness committees, and discussion of a wellness strategic plan were among discussion topics among members of the online Wellness Manager Discussion Group.

More than 1,380 professional wellness and health promotion managers and others keenly interested in workplace health improvement are members of the online forum sponsored by Wellness Program Management Advisor, Wellness Junction Professional Update and by

The e-mail “listserv” is dedicated to serving the information needs of professionals responsible for managing and administering workplace wellness programs.

The list is moderated therefore no inappropriate material or messages are delivered to members.

How it works: Workplace wellness professionals who need an answer to a question simply ask the members of our group for the answer.

Many wellness professionals from around the U.S, Canada, New Zealand, and other countries are members and contribute their thoughtful comments and professional expertise to the questions and answers posted.

A feature of our discussion group is that members have the ability to search the archive of all previously posted messages. They are saved and available to members only at our home page at Yahoo Groups –

The archive is keyword or key phrase searchable and will bring up a list of the messages on a specific subject.

As the number of messages grows, the group is essentially building a “gold mine” of workplace wellness professional thought.

You must be a registered member to get access to the archive; however, registration is free.

There is no cost and it’s easy to sign up one of three ways:

Go to the Wellness Manager Discussion Group home page:

A sign-up box is available at Helping You Get The Right Information From Reliable Sources On The Web

There is a substantial amount of free information that our sponsor, Wellness, offers on various aspects of workplace
wellness management.

New information on managing a program is uploaded regularly.


Plus there is always new information being uploaded on such wellness-related topics as nutrition, smoking cessation, men’s health, women’s health, ergonomics, fitness, stress management, disease prevention and weight management.

As Health Reform Takes Shape, Leading Medical and Public Health Organizations Join Effort to Keep Obesity Front and Center

Eight medical groups, public health associations and obesity experts joined the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance today as the organization accelerates outreach to public and private sector decision makers grappling with the high costs of weight-related health conditions — such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

“Any national health reform discussion that does not address the impact of obesity will ultimately be unable to meet the goals of better health and more affordable care,” said 17th U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., FACS, Health and Wellness Chairperson of the STOP Obesity Alliance and President of Canyon Ranch Institute. “Obesity threatens every segment of our society — from our military to our schools. These medical professionals and public health officials bring additional fire power to the Alliance’s recommendations for action to help reverse the obesity epidemic.” 

The STOP Obesity Alliance, based at The George Washington University Department of Health Policy (GW), is run by a Steering Committee of business, labor, insurance, quality, consumer and medical organizations. The new Associate Members will participate in efforts to remove the barriers preventing greater national attention and progress on managing and preventing obesity. 

New Associate Members include the American Association of Diabetes Educators, American College of Sports Medicine, American Society of Bariatric Physicians, American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, Campaign to End Obesity, Commissioned Officers Association of the U.S. Public Health Service, National Association of Chronic Disease Directors and Rebecca Puhl, Ph.D., of Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. Together, they strengthen the Alliance’s membership, and further its reach into the health system, medical, education and policy arenas. 

The Alliance also announced today the addition of a new obesity expert as part of its research and policy staff. Morgan Downey, formerly the executive vice president of The Obesity Society and chief executive officer of the American Obesity Association, joined the team at GW as policy advisor to the STOP Obesity Alliance. He will help drive key research, writing and advocacy efforts. Among Mr. Downey’s many accomplishments are his successful efforts in creating policy changes that recognize obesity as a chronic disease at numerous government organizations. 

Representatives from the new member organizations met today for their first meeting at GW, and received a briefing on several upcoming Alliance outreach and research initiatives including the Alliance’s annual obesity decision makers survey and a series of educational roundtables for governmental and private sector audiences. The group also heard from guest speaker, Victoria Brown, Healthcare Initiative Director of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, who discussed the organization’s programs and experiences in working with groups from different sectors. 

“As our leaders attempt health reform, they need informed guidance on obesity’s effect on the nation and the health system,” said Christine Ferguson, director of the STOP Obesity Alliance. “Businesses and institutions across society are at a breaking point when it comes to managing the impact of obesity-linked chronic diseases — and they are calling out for help. The Alliance’s strength is aligning diverse perspectives into common recommendations and tools that can help leaders across the country make the changes we need.” 

Affecting 60 million adults, the overweight and obese population is one of the fastest growing segments in American society. Weight-related chronic disease — diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers — is the country’s second-highest cause of preventable death behind smoking. The condition costs the nation $117 billion in direct and indirect costs, including healthcare, treatment, lost productivity, and absenteeism.

Quotable Quote

“The healthcare industry is being rocked by a perfect storm of escalating cost-drivers.  To weather this storm, we must move from the traditional sick care model to a proactive, prevention-based approach to keep the majority of healthcare consumers who are low risk from moving downstream on the care continuum into chronic illness. ” Michael Samuelson, President & CEO Health and Wellness Institute

A Sanctuary For the Newly Unemployed, A Healthier Nation, and The Benefits of “Meetings On The Move”

Here are a few wellness-related headlines that should be of interest:


SWEAT THERAPY | Fitness Centers Become Sanctuary For The Newly Unemployed Seeking To Release Stress


Hitting the gym is a  growing trend as Americans grapple with the recession, says Equinox, a company that  runs 48 gyms in the U.S. Gym usage among existing Equinox members grew as much as 15 percent in the first quarter. Participation in classes that are included in the cost of the membership has increased by a similar amount, and the gym is adding more yoga classes to meet demand.


In a survey released by Rodale Inc., publisher of Men’s Health and Runner’s World, 84 percent of those polled said despite the recession, there is no better time to invest in maintaining good health.,CST-NWS-gym27.article


A Healthy Nation In One Generation


America is proof of the tremendous triumphs and significant failures in preventing, treating and responding to the multitude of public health challenges we face in our daily lives.


We’ve eradicated polio and enacted seat-belt laws that have saved countless lives, yet we’re failing in a number of key measures of health, such as childhood obesity and infant mortality. It would be a critical mistake to ignore the importance of public health in our eagerness to reform our current health system. As our new White House Office of Health Reform and Congress tackle health reform, a strong public health system must be a crucial component of the solution.


Public Health Experts Give Tips And Discuss Benefits Of “Meetings On The Move”


“‘Meetings on the Move’ is an inexpensive, easy way to improve health and productivity,” says Tim McBride, Ph.D., associate dean for public health at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. Meetings on the Move (MOTM) get employees on their feet and out of the office environment.


“Forty percent of the population are absolute couch potatoes,” says Debra Haire-Joshu, Ph.D, and professor of social work at Washington University. “That’s almost a learned behavior. You learn to sit at school; you learn to sit at work. What ‘Meetings on the Move’ really does is get us active like we used to be when we were kids. We can learn then to bring activity back into our daily life, just like we learned to take it out.”


New Workplace Wellness Survey on Incentives in Wellness Programs

For the third time we are surveying wellness managers to measure the use of various kinds of incentives in workplace wellness and health promotion programs.


Our team conducted two surveys in past years, in 2003, then again in 2006.


We learned in 2006 that the numbers of programs employing incentives of some kind had grown considerably over the three years. We are now actively encouraging wellness professionals to participate in this year’s survey effort.


The more survey participants, obviously, the more valuable the data which will result.

The questions are brief, yes-no or multiple choice. It just takes moments.

The analyzed survey results are reported in Wellness Program Management Advisor, in the Wellness Junction Professional Update email newsletter, and on Wellness

It only takes a few moments to respond and remember you are helping to add to the growing body of workplace wellness-specific professional intelligence.

To participate here’s the direct link to the survey:


Free Site Link Offers Chance To Spread Wellness Message to Employees, Staff

Professionals looking for low-cost ways to enhance their wellness programs can link to the Wellness Junction Web site, free of charge, at

Wellness Junction, an online resource for consumers and professionals. By linking your intranet or Web site to the Wellness Junction site, you can point your employees and members to tips and strategies that will help them lead healthier lives — without the time or expense of creating the content yourself.

Plus, a link to the “At Work” section will help you and your staff get essential materials you can use in your careers, from how-to management tips to industry studies about the performance of wellness initiatives, to successful program profiles.

In addition to the information “on site,” visitors can sign up for a free e-mail newsletter geared toward the wellness or health promotion professional – Wellness Junction Professional Update.

Creating a link is free and easy. The following description can be used to help explain the site to your staff, students and other site visitors:

Wellness Junction. Start here on your quest for health & wellness information online. Wellness Junction contains information on such wellness-related topics as diet and nutrition, fitness, weight control, smoking cessation, stress management and more. Plus, you’ll find exclusive information on industry studies, workplace programming and management tips. Click here to visit Wellness Junction,


Wellness Programming: Reaching Those Who Need The Services Most

The program planning challenge for the majority of wellness managers is devising and marketing health promotion programs tailored to convince the most “unhealthy” segment of your employee population to participate. A frustration expressed by managers is that it’s the same group of healthy and fit employees who regularly participate in programs.

But the strategy to reach the non-participants, is that wellness managers need to identify the types of programs and services those employees may be interested in.

Consultant Robin Foust, a population/individual health and productivity management specialist with Zoe Consulting, has devoted time and analysis to try to learn what it will take to get the less healthy employees to commit to participating in wellness programs. A while back Robin shared her thoughts with us:

“With some of our clients we took a phased in approach that included facilitating nominal groups and a random survey to identify what programs the employees wanted, would actually participate in if offered, how we could motivate them to participate and how best to communicate to them.”  The members included employees and retirees.

Foust also conducted interviews with what are referred to as the key business executives to get their perspective and support, and “we established what we call Wellness Ambassadors responsible for promotion and implementation.”

She said she was also able to have interns help with promoting and keeping the wellness program accessible.

The data and ranking that gathered from the nominal group process “has been invaluable as to what will work to get those employees that are not the already healthy — to participate,” Foust explained. “We also learned a great dealabout other things that were hindering participation and are working on changing those barriers like sick/wellness leave.”

Foust also suggested that if a wellness manager has not done a baseline needs and wants assessment in a while — it may help to do so as the employees get a sense of ownership and that this “may be for me” and not just the healthy employees.

“The nominal group process is fast, efficient and results in some great information, not to mention the power of employee involvement,” said Foust.

She said she plans to use health risk assessments (HRAs) in the next phase of the process but along with onsite clinical screening with contests to increase participation.

“The HRAs are more for being able to evaluate outcomes over time — including linking with claims to evaluate impact on costs,” Foust explained. Without the HRA and clinical risks it is challenging to prove correlation and the “business case,” however, with it a manager can, she said.

“We also have some challenges planned and other things all based on the nominal group and survey work,” Foust continued. “So far, our participation has exceeded expectations.”

Address: Robin F. Foust, Zoe Consulting Inc., P.O. Box 258, Catawba, SC 29704; (803) 324-8626.

Health Screenings Among Most Popular Workplace Wellness Programs

Health screenings are among the best-attended wellness programs, according to the results over several years of exclusive workplace wellness management surveys conducted by Wellness Program Management Advisor and Wellness Junction.

For one recent year, 28 percent of the respondents said health screenings attracted the most employee participation at their places of business, the survey found. The health screenings covered a variety of wellness subjects and health concerns, including the following:

  • Breast cancer detection/mammograms
  • Cholesterol testing/lipid screenings
  • Blood pressure screenings
  • Bone density/osteoporosis testing
  • Diabetes testing
  • Cardiac health screenings
  • Glucose screenings

Several respondents said the health screening programs offered at their work sites attracted more than 70 percent of the respective employee populations.

Relaxation and stress management programs also ranked high among employee participants, the study discovered; approximately 15 percent of the respondents said programs of this nature were among the best-attended offered by their wellness departments.

Simplify Your Life and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs were among the most popular stress management programs, respondents said.

Although massage therapy, yoga, Tai Chi and other relaxation exercise programs also were included in the general fitness category by many respondents, others listed them as part of stress management program efforts, according to the statistics.

Employees showed great interest in various types of nutrition and exercise programs, according to the survey.

Nine percent of the respondents said walking was the most popular employee wellness activity. Seven percent of the respondents said any variety of exercise program attracts sizeable employee participation, while 5 percent said the use of onsite fitness centers is the biggest draw.

Weight loss and weight management programs, especially those that focus on exercise and nutrition, were cited by approximately 7 percent of the respondents. Nutrition programs that offered healthy cooking techniques also gained popularity among employees, the study reported.

Eight percent of the respondents said health fairs were among their companies’ best-attended wellness programs. Health fairs that focused on a general variety of subjects attracted more attendees than gatherings that concentrated on more specialized issues, such as diabetes detection and management, according to the findings.

However, single-subject health fairs and seminars, such as those dealing with coronary health and rehabilitation, and sessions on coping with change in the workplace were among the best-attended programs cited by approximately 2 percent of the respondents, the study determined.

Individual counseling sessions that focused on personal issues; general assessment programs; parenting classes; health risk assessments (general); programs on alternative medicine and holistic approaches; eye surgery options; and immunization clinics were listed as well-attended programs by approximately 13 percent of the respondents.

Survey respondents were professionals responsible for the administration of wellness programs for major employers, corporations, hospitals, and colleges or universities. The majority of respondents, more than 40 percent, are employed by major companies.

Wellness Program Management Advisor is a monthly management newsletter for workplace wellness managers. is a Web site serving wellness professionals. For information on Wellness Program Management Advisor, visit:

Workplace Wellness Certificate Tells the World You Know Your Stuff

A certification program raises the professional stature of the profession. A ‘certified’ manager in any profession is generally worth more money in the marketplace.

It is a credential that could mean the difference in competing for or getting a job.


It tells the hiring manager that you worked harder than the other person to earn the certificate. Generally, only a percentage of the profession will rise to hold the certificate.

The National Wellness Institute and WebMD three years ago launched a five level Certification Program for Worksite Wellness practitioners.

Larry Chapman, a well known and highly regarded expert consultant on wellness and health promotion, has been serving as the trainer for the certification classes held in conjunction with the annual National Wellness Institute program.

Each level requires two full days of training and successful completion of a Challenge Exam. Each level is focused on twelve different key skills critical to the design and implementation of a successful employee wellness program, according to the program description.

Level I Certified Wellness Program Coordinator (CWPC) is designed for organizations with fewer than a thousand employees. Level II Certified Wellness Program Manager (CWPM) is for organizations with 1,000 to 10,000 employees.

Level III Certified Wellness Program Director (CWPD) is for organizations with more than 10,000 employees. Level IV Certified Worksite Wellness Program Consultant (CWWPC) can then work with any size organization.

The Level V Certified Worksite Wellness Professional (CWWP) is for any size organization plus ten (10) years of progressively more challenging program management and authorship of a recent related peer review article on worksite wellness.

For information on the Worksite Wellness professional certification program visit the National Wellness Institute: