SOURCE: Cooper Concepts

May 11, 2005 10:05 ET

Is Work Weighing You Down?

Corporate Wellness Programs Trim Waistlines and Boost Bottom Lines

DALLAS, TX -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 11, 2005 -- For decades, Fortune 500 companies and high-powered business executives have retreated to medical doctor Kenneth Cooper's campus in Dallas to get their annual physical and learn about the latest research on staying healthy and disease prevention.

But now the physician, known as the "father of aerobics," is coming to your place of business, well, virtually speaking.

"Anyone who follows the incredible increase in healthcare costs knows that most companies are getting hammered," says Todd Whitthorne, president of Cooper Concepts, a division of The Cooper Aerobics Center. "Because of unhealthy employees, not only are medical expenses rising at tremendous rates but absenteeism and productivity are significantly impacted as well."

So with the growing number of obese Americans (at last count 64 percent are overweight) mixed with endless hours at work, Dr. Cooper has gone interactive to reach more people via an online wellness program which also provides a proactive component that works with a company's human resources department, providing a tailored wellness plan with incentive programs.

Employees are able to access medical resources, log daily calorie intake and output, and track their exercise activities throughout the week. Other resources of the program include body mass index (BMI) calculators, smoking cessation tools and fitness recommendations. Employers can also customize the Web-based program to post internal meeting reminders and announcements.

The program costs about $20 per employee (annually) and is currently available to companies with 2,000 or more employees. Companies are using the system to motivate and encourage healthier habits, which eventually puts money back into their pockets.

"Research indicates that for every dollar a company invests in corporate wellness there is a $3 to $8 return on their investment within five years," says Whitthorne. "Our programs are saving companies thousands, and in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Over 75 companies and organizations are using Dr. Cooper's online wellness program including Frito-Lay, ConocoPhillips and Bell Helicopter. But the employees aren't their only focus.

"You have to focus on the dependents of employees as well," says Whitthorne. "The dependents usually account for about 60 percent of a company's overall healthcare expense."

Employees enrolled in the program by their employer can set up an account for each member of their family for free. For information about Dr. Cooper's corporate wellness programs call 972-560-3262 or email fitcompany@cooperwellness.com.

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