BizVoice July/August 2014 - page 59

July/August 2014 – BizVoice/Indiana Chamber
LaPorte Mayor
Makes a Run for
Health and Wellness
Imagine running a 5K every
Saturday. Now imagine running a 5K
every Saturday in three different
communities in an effort to promote
physical activity and good health.
That’s exactly what LaPorte Mayor
Blair Milo has been doing with her time
so far this spring and summer. She will
continue until she hits the last of
Indiana’s 92 counties in mid-October.
Dubbed “Step Up Saturdays” (a
spinoff of LaPorte’s “Fitness Friday” events,
in which LaPorte citizens can join in a
walk or run each week), Milo’s goal is
to show more Hoosier communities just
how easy and inexpensive it can be to
support physical activity programs in
their communities.
Since starting in March, Milo has
visited more than 30 communities and
has interested eight (as of press time) in
starting their own events. She began in
Southern Indiana and is working her
way north as the summer progresses.
“Some counties are ready to
participate; some are still a little wary
of what the program is and that’s okay,”
Milo explains. “All I ask for them is to
help me identify a 5K route. Then, to
provide some water, which can be as
simple as jugs and some cups, and help
get the word out and have people come
out and participate.”
Even a slight improvement in
Indiana’s annual poor health rankings
would be a welcome step.
“It’s just so important that we start
making these changes and that first and
foremost it’s going to make people feel
happier – they’ll feel better,” she asserts.
“Seventy-five percent of spending in
health care goes to chronic disease
management, and almost all (of that)
can be prevented.”
Milo’s progress and locations each
weekend are discussed on a local radio
program and posted on the events page
Smoking Impact Even Worse Than Realized
Smoking is bad for your health – not exactly a surprising revelation.
But the host of diseases now linked to smoking is a bit more shocking. A recent report released by
acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H., concludes that smoking is now also a
factor in these diseases: age-related macular degeneration, diabetes, colorectal cancer, erectile dysfunction,
liver cancer, ectopic pregnancy, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation, impaired immune function and
orofacial clefts in infants.
The report adds that secondhand smoke is a contributor to stroke and women are at just as
much risk of dying of smoking-related diseases as men.
The Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 Years of Progress
comes on the 50th anniversary of the first
Surgeon General report on the impacts of smoking.
The latest report also highlights that over $150 billion in productivity is lost annually from premature
death due to smoking. The annual direct medical costs attributable to smoking are over $130 billion.
Smoke-free air policies, such as the one that went into effect in Indiana in July 2012, are one of
the action steps the Surgeon General discusses in the report in an effort to reduce smoking rates.
The Wellness Council of Indiana, in partnership with the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and
Cessation Commission, offers the Quit NOW Tool as a benefit of membership. The tool is available
to help assist employees in quitting smoking.
Wellness Council of Indiana at
Growing Workplace Trend: Wearable Fitness Monitors
There’s nothing like a little healthy competition in the workplace – especially when it promotes
health and wellness.
For one Terre Haute-based company, using wearable fitness monitors has engaged employees to
take more steps throughout the day, as well as communicate with co-workers in other departments.
“I’m in legal and there’s a
construction guy – I don’t do a
lot of business with them – he and
I are neck and neck (in steps).
You can taunt, cheer and message
people. I’m communicating with
an employee that I wouldn’t
communicate with a lot,” offers
Tami Robertson, who helps run
the FitBit program at Thompson
Thrift, a full-service development
and construction company.
Thompson Thrift purchases
the entry-level FitBit monitor,
and employees can upgrade by
paying the difference between
the basic and expanded models.
If employees are inactive for two weeks during active challenges, the monitors must be returned.
Partner Paul Thrift, who co-founded the company in 1986, notes that while Thompson Thrift
hasn’t seen any tangible reduction in health care costs since starting the program in January 2013,
that wasn’t the point of using the monitors.
“It’s more of a long-term investment in that the fewer illnesses we have, the healthier employees
we have. In the long period, it will help us. It’s also not just the FitBit, but other aspects of the
program – the metrics, screenings; if we can catch something early, the saving in health insurance
costs is the smallest benefit of that. It’s somebody’s potential health,” Thrift explains.
Spouses may also purchase FitBit monitors and participate in the challenges.
“It’s about one-to-one as far as persons insured – there is one family member for every one
employee,” Thrift relates. “It’s equally important from an economic standpoint and the health and
happiness of the employee to keep their family fit as well.”
Blair Milo, city of LaPorte,
Moving Instead of Smoking
By Charlee Beasor
Paul Thrift and Tami Robertson, Thompson Thrift, at
Employees at Terre Haute-based Thompson Thrift use wearable fitness
monitors to track their daily steps and activity.
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