SOURCE: Virgin HealthMiles

Virgin HealthMiles

July 12, 2011 11:33 ET

Forty Thousand U.S. Employees Walk Equivalent of 674,607 Mt. Everest Summit Climbs to Promote Workplace Wellness During Third Annual National Employee Wellness Month

Power of Challenges and Social Communities Motivate Employees to Walk More Than Seven Billion Steps in Three Weeks; Teams From MWV and Fyda Freightliner Take Top Spots in Activity Challenge

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - Jul 12, 2011) - This June, over 40,000 U.S. employees demonstrated the power of challenges and social connections in creating healthier, more active workplaces. As part of the third annual National Employee Wellness Month Challenge, teams from more than 90 U.S. companies logged more than seven billion steps -- the equivalent of summiting Mount Everest 674,607 times -- in their quest to top the 2011 challenge leaderboards. In the end, Virginia-based global packaging leader MWV (NYSE: MWV) finished first in the "Health Stars" division, averaging nearly 225,000 steps per participant throughout the challenge. And for the third consecutive year, Ohio and Pennsylvania-based Freightliner dealership, Fyda Freightliner, rose to the top, averaging nearly 292,000 daily steps in the "Wellness Warriors" division. In recognition of these first place finishes, MWV and Fyda Freightliner will each receive a $1,000 donation from Virgin HealthMiles to the charity of their choice.

National Employee Wellness Month was created by Virgin HealthMiles with support from the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance, the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease and the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation. The initiative helps business leaders learn how companies have developed successful strategies around prevention and good health. It showcases how supportive social communities, such as the workplace, can help to improve employee health and productivity and lower healthcare costs, and how leveraging an individual's social connections helps create and sustain a workplace culture of health.

"Fewer than 20 percent of today's jobs involve moderate physical activity. As we've become more sedentary, there's been a huge spike in costly chronic conditions which drive the majority of healthcare costs impacting businesses and their employees today," said Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin HealthMiles. "Theses 40,000 employees literally 'stepped it up' in celebration of this year's National Employee Wellness Month. They proved that some healthy competition and supportive social connections are a powerful combination in creating a healthier, more active workforce. Congratulations to the MWV and Fyda Freightliner teams on their first place finishes in this year's challenge."

All together, the more than 40,000 participants took over seven billion steps and walked the equivalent of approximately four million miles during the three-week challenge. On average, participants took approximately 8,400 steps per day -- an amount that reinforces the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendations for daily physical activity.

About the Winners
MWV finished first in the Health Stars division thanks to its team averaging more than 10,500 steps, or approximately 5.25 miles per participant per day throughout the three-week competition.

"We're excited about our challenge win and we're proud to support National Employee Wellness Month's goal of promoting prevention and good health," said Jodi Fuller, director of global benefits at MWV. "We've seen firsthand the value of social connections in driving healthy behaviors across our workforce. It's truly inspiring to see our employees motivate each other to stay active since a healthier workforce not only lowers healthcare costs, but keeps people well and productive on the job."

Three-time champion, Fyda Freightliner stepped their way to the top of the Wellness Warriors division by averaging more than 13,000 steps, or approximately 6.5 miles per participant per day.

"We're thrilled to be at the top of the National Employee Wellness Month Challenge leaderboard for the third year running," said Patty DePaola, controller of Fyda Freightliner. "Taking a preventive approach to healthcare by staying active is an ingrained part of our corporate culture. Our continued success in this year's challenge represents Fyda Freightliner's ongoing commitment to becoming a healthier workforce."

To see the top ten teams in each division of the 2011 National Employee Wellness Month Challenge, visit: http://www.nationalemployeewellnessmonth.com/the-challenge/.

About Virgin HealthMiles
Virgin HealthMiles provides technology-based employee health programs that pay people to get active. The company's Pay-for-Prevention™ approach, based on physical activity and healthy lifestyle change, attracts an average of 40 percent of employees who participate, which helps organizations reduce medical costs and improve employee productivity and satisfaction. Over 120 industry leaders representing more than 700,000 employees across the U.S. have selected Virgin HealthMiles' award-winning program for their employees. The company is a member of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group. For more information, visit www.virginhealthmiles.com.

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