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Is your job a little light on physical activity?

We spend much of our time in the work place desk-bound or in a seated position. Even at home or while traveling, we tend to move very little. With the modern lifestyle in mind, worksite wellness is becoming increasingly important.

Gage Brothers, a precast concrete company based out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is a great example of how a company can encourage their employees to live a healthy lifestyle.

The 94-year old company was one of just 12 companies in the state of South Dakota to receive a 2014 Fit-Friendly Gold Award from the American Heart Association. Gage earned the same recognition in 2013.

Stephanie Pendrys, Marketing Manager for Gage Brothers, told us of their impressive employee wellness program called Gage Your Health, which includes 250 employees;

“The wellness program starts before employees even begin their work day. Workers in the manufacturing plant participate in a mandatory stretching routine at the start of every shift as part of the Dynamic Movement Program. The routine is meant to prepare the employee for the physical requirements of the job and decrease the risk of injury. Office workers also follow the stretching routine as a way to address the stress placed on the body by sitting for long periods of time.”

Their wellness initiatives also include challenges, the latest being an eight-week weight loss challenge called Less is More.

Gage Brothers uses weight loss challenges as a motivational and team-driven tool to get workers interested in fitness regardless of employee level. Plant workers, crane crew operators, engineers, managers and executives alike take part in team-building challenges that promote healthy living, motivation and friendly competition that can turn a boring diet and exercise program into a fun team activity.

“Health coaches come to the office once a week for confidential weigh-ins and pre, mid and post-biometrics for everyone who signs up for the challenge. We also take part in 20-30 minute weekly health classes on subjects like ‘Stress Less,’ ‘Re-think Your Drink and ‘Dining Out’ during the eight-week challenge. Employees are put into groups and the team that loses the highest percentage of weight wins a catered-in, healthy lunch. The overall top male and female winner will receive their choice of a $100 gift card or a day of PTO. There’s also $5 gift cards for weekly winners, so everyone is really getting into it.”

“Each team wears a different colored wristband, so you know who is on your team and who isn’t. That creates a sense of camaraderie—and a lot of good-natured ribbing between teams,” said Pendrys.

The challenges are a reoccurring theme at the concrete company; there is a similar ‘Maintain, Don’t Gain‘ challenge from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. Participants who maintain their weight during this time are entered to win $300 to be used towards home fitness equipment or gym membership fees. According to Pendrys, 15 Gage employees were able to maintain or lose weight over the 2014 holiday season.

To keep active throughout the day, employees meet regularly for physical activity;

“Every day Monday through Friday, the office staff meets in the main lobby and does a stretching routine. The mailman usually walks in while we are all stretching in lobby,” said Pendrys. “The look of bewilderment on his face always brings a good laugh.”

 
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These stretch breaks are done every day, even if a meeting has to be interrupted.

Outside of the office, Gage Brothers encourages participation in community events, like the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk, and they have plans to participate in other upcoming events as well.

“We also have people that do things on their own during lunch, like walking to Subway and back, ride their bike once it gets nicer out, etc,” said Pendrys.

Gage employees are encouraged to take active breaks throughout the workday. Walking map booklets are located in the break rooms, which contain five different walking routes ranging from 0.8 miles to 2.3 miles. All routes start and end at Gage Brothers. The company also has bike racks for employees who prefer riding their bicycles to work.

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The health focused concrete company also goes beyond physical activity by offering free four-week tobacco cessation classes. Participants learn about their tobacco habits, triggers and coping techniques to help them quit. Each participant sets a quit date and agrees to random tobacco detection tests. At the end of 2014, three employees had remained tobacco-free for one year which qualified them for a $500 bonus. There are 20 Gage employees currently participating in the 2015 tobacco cessation class.

A healthy vending machine is also at the employee’s disposal;

“One of the first things that I noticed when I started working at Gage was the vending machines. There wasn’t a candy bar or package of Oreo cookies in sight,” said Pendrys.

The vending machines contain natural and organic options including nuts, fruit cups, beef jerky, almond milk, string cheese and unsweetened iced tea. Nutritional information is available for all items, making it a little easier for employees to figure out which of those behind-the-glass offerings are best for their health.

Looking to follow in the footsteps of Gage Brothers? Enhance your worksite wellness program with our free Move It Monday resources.