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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.