If you visit the campus of Children’s Hospital Central California, you’re bound to see employees walking through the halls with weights or running laps around the building. Bicycle racks are full as staff members choose to commute on two wheels instead of four. It is all part of the Employee Health and Wellness Department’s effort to promote a culture of healthy living.
“There’s so much research that shows people who have active lifestyles are more productive and miss fewer days of work due to preventable illness,” said Patricia Khwaja, manager, Employee Health and Wellness. “People are more positive and it enhances their personal wellbeing.”
One of the most popular programs at Children’s Hospital is the American Heart Association’s Start! Walking Program. It challenges people to increase their activity through walking. Since the program began in spring 2007, Children’s Hospital employees have walked and cycled a total of 115,441 miles.
“Walking is one of the safest and easiest forms of exercise, especially for those just starting,” said Khwaja. “The program encourages people to start or maintain an active lifestyle.”
An awards ceremony was held on June 19 to celebrate the accomplishments of the individuals who participated this past spring. Employee Health and Wellness gave winning individuals and departments gift cards to sporting goods stores and restaurants.
Medical Library Manager Cynthia Perkins has participated for the past three years and has claimed the top walking prize since 2008. She maintains a busy workout schedule that includes swimming, water aerobics, walking and Zumba – a Latin dance exercise class.
“I do it because I feel better,” said Perkins. “My cholesterol has gone way down and I was able to stop taking my cholesterol medicine.”
The Start! Walking Program has been so successful, the American Heart Association awarded Children’s Hospital the Fit-Friendly Company Gold-Level Award two years in a row. This recognition goes to employers who support physical activity, promote a wellness culture and increase healthy eating options at work (Forbes Magazine features Start! Walking Program).
“We were the first hospital in the Valley to be recognized,” said Khwaja.
Other facets of the employee wellness program at Children’s Hospital include onsite fitness classes, Weight Watchers, massages, annual health assessments, immunizations, an employee assistance program, and a smoking cessation program.
“It’s our goal to continue to enhance programs and increase participation in the future,” said Khwaja.
The Start! Walking Program winners are:
Top Departments – Walking and Cycling
- Emergency Department – 122.85 miles walking, 1,255.47 miles cycling
- The Rehabilitation Center – 482.61 miles walking, 226.14 miles cycling
- General Accounting – 208.75 miles walking, 323.50 miles cycling
- Materials Management Resources – 343.55 miles walking, 1,336 miles cycling
- Financial Analysis – 110.75 miles walking
- Medical Library – 593.96 miles walking
Top Department – Cycling
- Cynthia Perkins – 309.96 miles
- Cheryl Kinoshita-Kurata – 281.50 miles
- Patricia Doda – 258.5 miles
- Valerio Acevedo – 1,455 miles
- Steve Frisby – 1,447.36 miles
- Anthony Caudill – 1,327 miles