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Have a good attitude, encourage co-workers

How many times have we moaned and complained about the place where we work? The people are negative; the budget has been slashed; the boss is demanding. Probably more than we'd like to admit.

But do we ever ask ourselves what we're bringing to the table or how we can make a change?

Health promotion programs in the worksite can be an effective way to spread health, nutrition and physical activity messages. And, they make good business sense.

Two thirds of Americans are obese or overweight today. And as their health goes, so goes that of their employers. Health costs alone are an estimated $147 billion annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Private employers are hit with an estimated $45 billion a year in medical expenditures and work loss, according to a 2008 report by the CDC.

In Minnesota, the numbers are no different. Nearly 63 percent of adults are overweight or obese, according to the CDC.

Because employees spend a great deal of their day at work, worksites with health promotion programs are a good way to assist employees in health and lifestyle areas that will affect the company's bottom line.

Research continues to show a return on investment to employers when they invest dollars in the health of their employees through comprehensive health promotion programs.

But what can you do? The first thing is to have a good attitude and encourage your co-workers to move! Here are some easy ideas:

• If you have scheduled breaks or lunchtime, use those times to be active, go for a walk, do some stretching or get some fresh air.

• Suggest a "walking meeting" when meeting one-to-one with staff members or small employee workgroups.

• Use staff meetings and other regular communication venues, such as bulletin boards and newsletters, to promote ways to improve employee health, safety and fitness.

• Ensure that healthy food and beverage choices are available for meetings and catered events.

• Install a bike rack so employees have options for non-motorized transportation at work.

• Discuss tobacco-free ground policies to encourage employees to "kick the habit" and promote a healthy worksite

• Model healthful behaviors. Leadership is the key to an effective work site wellness program.

• Find out if your business has a wellness committee. If they do - ask to join, or start one up.

We spend more time at work than we do at home with our families. If our workplace isn't a healthy and pleasant place to be, then it's up to us to take the lead and reshape it into a personal haven and professional retreat.