Get Your Employees Moving by Karen Hufford

If you change the lifestyle of your employees, overall they will be healthier and more motivated about life, leading to less absenteeism and more productivity,” said Lisa Acosta, wellness coordinator for Health First Pro-Health & Fitness. Acosta holds a master’s degree in health education from Florida International University, and for 10 years has worked with local employers on boosting workplace wellness.

According to her, there are various popular tactics used today to get employees focused on fitness. Corporate weight-loss challenges like Health First’s “The Great Weight Off,” modeled after the television show “The Biggest Loser,” are big right now. Corporate 5K’s are also popular. Organizations like the Running Zone in Melbourne host and sponsor various 5K’s that co-workers can participate in together to simultaneously boost fitness levels and company morale. And discounts at fitness centers for corporate groups can also help give employees a needed nudge. Health First Pro-Health & Fitness Centers, for example, oftentimes will waive sign-up fees for corporate groups with 10 or more employees who become members, or will provide significant discounts on monthly membership rates to corporate groups with 100 or more employees who join.

According to Acosta, one of the most frequently used tools by Health First to determine an employee base’s overall wellness is a Health Risk Assessment (HRA) questionnaire, which “looks at the group as a whole and determines if there is an area that needs improvement.” If the HRA determines that the group has a large number of smokers or high stress levels, for example, on-site or online smoking cessation or stress-management courses can be implemented.

Health First Pro-Health & Fitness also uses body fat testing and blood pressure checks as health assessments to help determine an employee base’s overall fitness level.

Fit Together

When developing a plan to improve workplace wellness, the key, though, is to make sure there is an end result for employees. “Employees want to know, ‘What’s in it for me?’” said Acosta. “So they need to be intrinsically motivated in some way, such as a prize, or money off of their health insurance plan.”

To keep employees motivated in the long term, Acosta said “buddy systems” among employees can come in handy. “The goal is to have a long-standing healthier lifestyle. It’s important that employees keep doing the training and continue the lifestyle changes once corporate goals are reached. … climb stairs, park far away, take walks during lunch breaks. That’s where friendship can help.” u


Health First Pro-Health & Fitness operates four locations on the Space Coast in Merritt Island, Viera, Melbourne and Palm Bay. Visit for more information.