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Will Work for Fitness

Is work making you sick? Are you sick of work? We asked neighbors, friends and the Twittersphere to tell us who felt happier and healthier in their cubicles because of employer attention to good health. Here are five companies who chirped back the loudest


The Active Network: Fitness Fanatics
To encourage his 500 colleagues to stay active and healthy, Active Network employee Arch Fuston started ActiveX, a program for everything extracurricular. That includes daily workouts like trail runs and cycling, plus a weight loss/stress management program called Take a Load Off and a smoking cessation program named Butt Kickers. Twenty exercise activities each week are available for all levels, and the offices have a pool, gym and tennis court — plus a canyon nearby for those trail runs. Fuston also oversees a three-day endurance camp/bonding experience in Warner Springs, along with the ActiveX Charity Challenge, benefiting three local charities. And Active works with Congressman Brian Bilbray, who visited a recent ActiveX workout, in lobbying on Capitol Hill for health and fitness initiatives.

Helix Environmental Planning: Health Students
Last October, this environmental consulting firm installed a wellness program in which each fiscal quarter was assigned a specific focus. The first spotlight was on healthy eating: Lunchtime speakers talked nutrition and made hummus. A recipe contest followed, then a garden committee formed (they now grow vegetables in a patch in the parking lot). During the fitness quarter, Helix challenged its employees to walk at least 10,000 steps a day for 28 days. “Our goal for this first year is to get people involved and not worry about results,” says Kristin Olszak, CFO. “Our best results have been our participation — more than 50 percent.” The prizes and incentives — such as gift certificates for Sports Authority and cooking classes — haven’t hurt, either.

San Diego Law Library: Makeover Enthusiasts
While the San Diego Law Library’s main branch downtown is being renovated, John Adkins, director of libraries, decided it was time for a complete company makeover. “Now that we’re totally reinventing the library, it’s time to reinvent ourselves into a better, healthier group of people,” he says. He’s giving each employee one hour per day of compensated work time to exercise however they like. When they move into their new digs this fall, Adkins will crown the fitness winners, Olympic-style (gold, silver, bronze). “Physical health helps mental health,” he adds. “Get moving and keep moving: That’s the deal.”

Qualcomm: The Work-Life Balancers
This giant employer provides loads of health-related benefits through its wellness program, QLife, which offers everything from family life workshops to adoption assistance to scuba diving lessons. While there are 36 locations in San Diego, the main campus has an on-site medical and dental clinic. Two of the offices get visits from On the Go Mobile Spa, which makes massages, mani-pedis, waxing, facials and haircuts available during lunch hour once a week. Weekly Weight Watchers meetings are also held at certain locations, with discounts and subsidies for that program.

American Specialty Health: Models of Health
At American Specialty Health’s new corporate headquarters in Sorrento Valley, you’ll find all kinds of gems: mothers’ rooms, relaxation rooms for meditating (or napping!) and vending machines that stock only items approved by registered dietitians. In addition to sports sponsorships, weight loss coaching, a holiday weight challenge (among others) and a tai chi club, the 700 local employees enjoy extensive health coverage, which includes alternative therapies like massage, acupuncture and chiropractic services. And the value-based medical plan allows employees to earn extra benefits and coverage when they take health assessments and meet biometric screening criteria.

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