October 08, 2009 14:24 ET

Seventeen Thousand National Employee Wellness Month Challenge Participants Circle the Globe to Promote a Healthy Workplace

Employees Walk Approximately Three Billion Steps Over Three-Week Period; Ohio-Based Fyda Freightliner Declared Challenge Winner

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - October 8, 2009) - Virgin HealthMiles, a leading provider of employee health and productivity programs that reward individuals for getting healthy, today declared Ohio-based Fyda Freightliner the winner of the National Employee Wellness Month's inaugural corporate steps challenge. More than sixty companies from across the U.S. and over 17,000 of their employees participated in this three-week competition. Collectively, these employees walked approximately three billion steps or roughly one and a half million miles -- the equivalent of about 60 times around the globe -- to raise awareness of the benefits of workplace wellness.

Sponsored by Virgin HealthMiles and the national not-for-profit health coalition, the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance, the first annual National Employee Wellness Month (www.nationalemployeewellnessmonth.com) took place throughout the month of September and spotlighted the critical role employers play in supporting healthy employee behaviors and preventing the onset of chronic conditions that are the primary drivers of our nation's soaring healthcare costs. The month-long initiative offered a variety of resources to educate both employers and employees about the benefits of preventative health within the workplace.

Freightliner dealership Fyda Freightliner's employees, which include mechanics, administrators and sales representatives, stepped their way to first place in the challenge by averaging over 14,000 steps, or approximately seven miles, per day throughout the 21-day competition. A few states away in Wisconsin, Shawano County and The School District of Menomonie battled for the second and third place spots throughout the challenge. In the end, The School District of Menomonie took second place with an average of approximately 12,000 daily steps.

"The National Employee Wellness Month corporate steps challenge is an excellent example of the influential role the workplace can play in supporting employees to increase their physical activity and improve their health," said Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin HealthMiles. "The challenge participants put forth a truly inspiring effort to boost their daily physical activity. In fact, the average participant walked about 84 miles in three weeks, averaging a little over 8,000 steps per day, which is about 1,000 more daily steps than is recommended for good health. Together, these employees motivated one another to be more active and focus on their personal health goals, while rallying to earn their employers the top spot in the challenge rankings, which we consider a great success."

"Promoting wellness in the workplace is a top priority at Fyda Freightliner because it benefits our employees greatly, as well as our company," said Patty DePaola, controller of Fyda Freightliner. "Our employees enjoy a little friendly competition, and this challenge had the right components in place to motivate us and get us moving. I couldn't be more proud of the leadership and discipline our team demonstrated. I hope Fyda Freightliner serves as proof to corporate America not only of the power of a strong wellness program, but also of the power of the workplace as a community to foster wellness."

In recognition of its first place finish, Fyda Freightliner was awarded a donation in the amount of $1,000 to the charity of its choice.

About Virgin HealthMiles and the STOP Obesity Alliance

Virgin HealthMiles (www.virginhealthmiles.com) is an industry leading provider of employee health and activity programs that pay people to get active. Its award-winning, Pay-for-Prevention™ approach, based on physical activity and healthy lifestyle change, attracts an average of 40% of employees who participate in the program regularly, which helps organizations reduce medical costs and improve employee productivity and satisfaction.

The Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance (www.stopobesityalliance.org) is a collaboration of consumer, provider, government, labor, business, health insurers and quality-of-care organizations united to drive innovative and practical strategies that combat obesity. The Alliance receives funding from its sponsors, sanofi-aventis U.S. LLC., founding sponsor, and Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Inc., supporting sponsor.

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