SOURCE: Virgin HealthMiles

www.nationalemployeewellnessmonth.com

September 29, 2009 09:14 ET

Virgin HealthMiles Announces Winners of First Annual Eye on Wellness Awards

NW Natural and Walter Glover From St. Vincent Health Honored for Commitment to Workplace Wellness; Awards Presented to Mark National Employee Wellness Month

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - September 29, 2009) - Virgin HealthMiles, a leading provider of employee health and productivity programs that reward individuals for getting healthy, today announced the winners of its first annual Eye on Wellness awards. The awards recognize both an organization and an individual who act as outstanding wellness advocates and role models for others. The Portland, OR-based utility company, NW Natural, was honored in the organization category and Walter Glover, an employee of Indianapolis-based St. Vincent Health, was honored in the individual category.

The Eye on Wellness awards were presented to mark September's National Employee Wellness Month (www.nationalemployeewellnessmonth.com), sponsored by Virgin HealthMiles and the non-profit Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance. This initiative spotlights the critical role employers play in supporting healthy employee behaviors and preventing the onset of chronic conditions driving our nation's healthcare costs. More than 60 companies across the United States and more than 17,000 of their employees participated in the inaugural year of this important national campaign.

"Research shows a direct relationship between a person's health and their communities. One of the most influential communities is the workplace, where most adults spend nearly half their waking hours," said Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin HealthMiles. "We're delighted to recognize NW Natural and Walter Glover with our first annual Eye on Wellness awards and honor them for their impressive efforts towards increasing emphasis on wellness and physical activity in the workplace."

ABOUT THE AWARD RECIPIENTS

NW Natural (www.nwnatural.com) is an innovator in tackling rising healthcare costs head-on through prevention. The company rewards employees who participate in its wellness program and the approach has worked. In just one year, 41 percent of NW Natural's employees have joined its wellness program, well above industry average engagement rates, and the company has seen a quantifiable increase in employee activity, with 25 percent of inactive employees becoming active. The company is now tracking correlations between its wellness programs and healthcare costs, and is optimistic there will be a positive impact.

"NW Natural is excited to receive the Eye on Wellness award," said Tina Freel, senior HR consultant at NW Natural. "Wellness and prevention just makes sense. It's really a win-win for employees to be healthier and productive, and our employees have really embraced the Virgin HealthMiles program. We think we're doing the right thing."

Sixty-one-year-old Walter Glover, an avid cyclist, runner, and hiker, has previously competed in a variety of fitness events, including 50 mini marathons and a trek up to Mt. Everest base camp. Concerned about the growing childhood obesity epidemic, Mr. Glover launched an initiative called "Trek for Kids." In June of this year, Mr. Glover trekked up Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa -- the world's highest free-standing mountain -- to raise money to benefit pediatric programming through the St. Vincent Jennings Hospital Foundation, specifically those programs focused on childhood obesity.

"To be recognized as a leader in promoting health in my community is humbling," said Walter Glover. "This climb is dedicated to serve as a source of inspiration for all those involved in the St. Vincent Jennings Pediatric Obesity program. May they know hope, wellness, peace and joy," said Walter Glover.

For more information about the award winners, and for details on how companies and individuals can nominate themselves or others for next year's Eye on Wellness awards, visit www.nationalemployeewellnessmonth.com.

About National Employee Wellness Month

National Employee Wellness Month (www.nationalemployeewellnessmonth.com) is an annual initiative held in September that highlights the importance of creating healthier and more physically active communities in the workplace, and the critical role a proactive approach towards wellness plays in reducing national healthcare costs. This initiative provides a vehicle for educating both employers and employees about the benefits of preventative health within the workplace, and is a rallying call in support of increased wellness awareness.

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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