Types of Wellness and Fitness Programs

As the broader conceptions of health and wellness have evolved, so too have the typologies of interventions offered by organizations. An early typology offered by several researchers proposed three levels of health programs:Level I: Awareness programs, including newsletters, health fairs, screening sessions, education classes, and other activities that raise individual awareness of the consequences of unhealthy behaviorsLevel II: Specific programs for lifestyle modification, including fitness programs, back exercises, and the like, characterized by active employee involvement in adopting health-promoting behaviorsLevel III: Programs that create environments in which individuals can sustain healthy lifestyles over the long term, including the provision of fitness centers at the workplace, making healthy food available, and removing unhealthy food from the workplace.From these three levels, fourth-generation programs evolved, variously referred to as total health programs, comprehensive health promotion programs, or health and productivity management programs. Johnson & Johnson’s Live for Life program represents one of the earliest comprehensive wellness programs. Three key components of the J&J program are health risk assessment, creative educational units, and physical fitness training. Health risk assessments may include analyzes of stress management, fitness, nutrition, safety, and ergonomics, and the assessments are used to identify the individual’s strengths and weaknesses. In the educational units, a wide variety of media is used to deliver education on such topics as weight management, smoking cessation, women’s health issues, and blood pressure management, among other health-related subjects. In J&J’s physical fitness training, programs are tailored specifically to individual needs. Evaluations of the Live for Life program have indicated positive effects on exercise, health behaviors, and employee work attitudes.Kimberly-Clark Corporation’s Health Management program is also a benchmark comprehensive program, initiated in 1977. The program reflects the company’s culture and its belief that well-informed, healthy employees are happier, safer, more productive, and have better attendance records, and that these factors produce lower health care costs for the organization. Integrated, multidisciplinary teams provide health screening, primary care, exercise programs, nursing care, and employee assistance programs at Kimberly-Clark’s various locations. Fitness facilities include indoor running tracks, Olympic-size pools, nature trails, weights, and aerobic equipment. Preventive and educational services are provided, which include family wellness, nutrition education, CPR training, and sport-specific workshops, among other programs.Health and productivity management programs (HPM) have three basic goals: (1) to provide integrative services that promote employee health or assist with injury, illness, or work-life balance, (2) to increase productivity and morale, and (3) to manage medical benefits, risk management, employee assistance programs, and other services such that they promote health and productivity. Keys to the success of HPM programs include health promotion and wellness staff who serve as models of healthy lifestyles, employee empowerment, and self-responsibility. The distinguishing factor of HPM programs is the tie to the mission of the business and articulation of the links between individual health and business operations.

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