A Five-Year Evaluation of the Bearfit Worksite Physical Activity Program
Received Date: Oct 28, 2017 / Accepted Date: Nov 15, 2017 / Published Date: Nov 27, 2017
Background: Regular participation in physical activity is associated with many health benefits including reduced risk of chronic diseases, premature mortality, and improved mental health. However, many American adults do not engage in enough activity to achieve health benefits. Employers recognize the value of physical activity participation among employees as a means to reduce healthcare costs and increase employee productivity.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to empirically evaluate a four-month worksite wellness program offered to university employees and their spouses over five years that was not originally intended for research purposes. A secondary aim was to add a description of a worksite wellness program to the body of literature that could be replicated by other universities and across other occupational settings.
Methods: Participants enrolled in the BearFIT program received access to exercise facilities, group exercise classes, nutrition counseling, and invitations to special activity events. Weight, BMI, waist circumference, blood pressure, resting heart rate, body fat percentage, and flexibility were measured pre- and post-program.
Results: 802 participants enrolled in the study; 387 of these completed the pre-test only and were removed from analyses. The final sample included 415 participants (79.3% female; mean age of 46.6 [SD=11.86; range 23-70]). Paired samples t-tests revealed statistically significant improvements in weight, BMI, waist circumference, body fat percentage, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and flexibility in our sample. Resting heart rate decreased on average across participants, but not significantly.
Conclusions: Results indicate the BearFIT program is a cost-effective means of promoting health in an occupational setting. Intervention planners should incorporate applicable methodology from the BearFIT program to future worksite wellness programs, and strengthen evaluations with more accurate measures of program participation and the conduction of cost-benefit analyses. Additional suggestions include emphasizing beginner activities tailored towards overweight and obese participants and seeking strategies to increase male participation.
Keywords: Exercise; Physical activity; Worksite wellness; Health promotion; Intervention; Health behavior
Citation: Patterson MS, Patterson CA, Walsh MS, Bernhart JA (2017) A Five-Year Evaluation of the Bearfit Worksite Physical Activity Program. Occup Med Health Aff 5:268. Doi: 10.4172/2329-6879.1000268
Copyright: © 2017 Patterson MS, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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