News / USA

Moving for Money

Financial payouts encourage hospital workers to exercise, eat better

Around half of OhioHealth's 9,000 employees have signed up for an incentive program that offers cash to workers who exercise.
Around half of OhioHealth's 9,000 employees have signed up for an incentive program that offers cash to workers who exercise.

Multimedia

Audio
Faiza Elmasry

A few years ago, OhioHealth, a hospital chain, decided to help its overweight employees slim down and lead a healthier life style.

It offered cash to employees who walked every day and stayed active. So far, they've seen positive results.

Wake-up call

A few months after having her first baby, OhioHealth employee Amy Rodock had a physical checkup.

"I was at one of our local hospitals," she says. "They said I was obese. Working for a health care system, I just don't like that word."

To get rid of the extra weight, Rodock joined her company's new wellness program. She was given a pedometer - which measured how far she walked - and she started walking each day with a small group of her colleagues.

"We have about three or four of us that lace up our tennis shoes at our lunch hour, and we walk for 30 minutes every day," she says. "And in the evening, I usually run or walk for three or four miles a day."

OhioHealth has paid out more than $377,000 to active employees, many of whom take a break from work to walk at lunch.
OhioHealth has paid out more than $377,000 to active employees, many of whom take a break from work to walk at lunch.

The result of her daily physical routine has been amazing.

"I started on January 2 or 3, right after New Years," she recalls. "I have lost a total of 41 pounds [18 kg]. I feel amazing, stronger and more energy. I feel better about taking care of my baby and family and I feel confident."

Lose more, earn more

On top of all those physical benefits, Rodock got a cash award for walking and losing weight.

And the more she walks, the more she wins. "I'm up to $375 so far," she says.

OhioHealth Wellness spokeswoman Lisa Meddock says half of the 9,000 employees at the company's five hospitals have signed up for the incentive program since it began in 2006.

More than $377,000 in rewards has been paid out. It all starts with that free pedometer participants receive by mail.

"It's a really smart little pedometer. It comes with a USB cord [to connect it to your computer]," says Meddock. "And it downloads your steps straight from your pedometer onto your personalized web site so you can track your progress whenever you download your steps. The more steps you take, the higher level you reach. There are five different levels. And then you get more money as you reach the different levels. Once you reach the 5th level, you can earn up to $500."

Good time

Meddock says they try to make losing weight fun as well as lucrative.

"One of the things that we do with the program is we have challenges," she says. "So I can challenge somebody and they can challenge me just on an on-going basis. You get bonus points if you do that at least once a year. We have corporate challenges where everybody who has signed up gets put on a team at random, so you get to meet new people and try and succeed. If your team reaches a goal, you get points for that. If you individually reach a goal, you get points for that. So it really makes it more exciting."

A growing number of U.S. companies are implementing such incentive oriented programs, either to help employees quit smoking or lose weight.

Kevin Volpp, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Health Incentives, says these programs make it easier to take that first step to change.

Making changes

"There is a tendency - when it comes to changing behavior in realms where behavior change is difficult - to always favor putting it off until the future," he says. "And what incentive programs do is make it more favorable for you to overcome that tendency to procrastinate doing something now."

Volpp says incentive programs to help people stop smoking seem to work better than those focused on losing weight.

"Smoking is easier than obesity because the way the environment has evolved in the United States really helps reinforce the decision not to smoke," he says. "But there are all sorts of stimuli for people to eat, which is very hard to combat."

Volpp says more studies are needed to measure the real impact of incentive programs on obesity.

"I don't think at this point there is evidence that that can be done in a consistent way because people do tend to regain weight," he says. "So it's very much an area where there is potential for this to be very helpful, but still there is still a lot of work to be done to figure how to best do that."

Different approaches to wellness

He suggests incentive programs work best as part of a broader approach to wellness.

"I think the ideal strategy is one that combines a number of ways to create a culture of wellness, in which people are encouraged to exercise and eat healthy," he says. "I think adding rewards to that mix is useful. But you have to be thoughtful about how that's done. I don't think people should assume that just creating a reward program that's tied to obesity is inherently going to be successful. I think it needs to be very carefully designed, and even then is only likely to be successful in a corporate environment in which there is a lot of focusing on better health."

Many workplaces have already introduced that mix.

OhioHeath's Lisa Meddock says through a variety of programs that offer nutritional advice, free physical checkups and other wellness services, her company is constantly encouraging its employees to develop healthy habits and make healthy choices on a daily basis.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid