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Honoring South Dakota's Healthy Workplaces

Two South Dakota companies and the city of Sioux Falls are being honored for helping employees work out at the workplace. (iStockphoto)
Two South Dakota companies and the city of Sioux Falls are being honored for helping employees work out at the workplace. (iStockphoto)
March 23, 2016

PIERRE, S.D. - Two South Dakota companies and a city are being honored today for taking steps to become some of the healthiest workplaces in the state.

The American Heart Association is designating Avera Health and Dakotacare as platinum level fit friendly workplaces, while the City of Sioux Falls is earning a gold ranking.

Association communications director Chrissy Meyer says each of these work sites is using methods to help their employees be active throughout the day.

She also says U.S. employers are losing about $225 billion a year because of health care expenses.

"By implementing work site wellness programs and encouraging companies to create a culture that motivates employees to start walking, you can kind of reverse the tide on those expenses," says Meyer.

The two organizations and Sioux Falls had to meet certain criteria, including adding healthier food options and offering employees options for physical activity.

Each will be recognized at an award ceremony in Sioux Falls.

Avera Health was chosen as one of the winning companies because of its To Your Health program, which provides health coaching, tips and online fitness tracking.

According to program manager Amanda Harty, last year the company's Walk This Way step tracking challenge brought in more than 4,000 employees and family members who logged in about 2 billion steps over 12 weeks.

Harty says programs like this could have long-term benefits for both companies and the people they employ.

"The statistics show if we can reduce obesity, people are going to be more productive and more able to do the work that they're asked and willing to do within their organization," she says.

According the American Heart Association, obesity alone costs some employers more than $12 billion in medical costs.

The association says companies that implement a simple walking plan can help reduce that risk.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - SD