Fitness

Good health is good for business

May 4, 2009
In the last six months we have been concerned with falling numbers—sales, stock prices, 401(k) values, the bottom line. More recently, however, I have been concerned with rising numbers—blood pressure, cholesterol, prostate antigens, the waistline. If we are not fit, we will not be able to fully enjoy America at the end of this recession.

We are not fit. According to CalorieLab's 2008 United States of Obesity rankings, Indiana is the 11th-fattest state in America. Although our ranking has improved, the fat truth, I suspect, is not because we are avoiding the deep-fried Twinkies at the Indiana State Fair. It's more likely because some states are beefing up faster than we are. I am told that we do not consume significantly more calories than we did generations ago. It's our lifestyle that has changed.

To promote a healthy lifestyle, Gov. Mitch Daniels wants to energize and slim down Hoosiers through at least two initiatives. He inaugurated INShape Indiana, an organization dedicated to helping people move more, eat better and stop smoking. On its Web site, www.in.gov/inshape, you can view a number of exercise videos, learn about current events and opportunities for exercise, and network with like-minded INShape wannabes. You can also pick up nutritional facts. For example, broccoli sprouts seem to be able to control the bacteria that causes ulcers, according to a study released last month. Eat your broccoli. Your mother was right.

In addition, the state of Indiana through the Department of Health has created a certified wellness program that seeks to recognize those businesses that are working to improve Indiana's health status by providing wellness opportunities for their employees. Those Indiana small businesses that qualify will receive a tax credit.

IBJ knows the importance of a healthy employee census. We have a long-standing relationship with Spectrum Health Services to promote wellness and have always supported health-promotion programs. For more than a dozen years IBJ has provided for an annual company bicycle ride for its employees and families. Most years we pedal to Atlanta, Ind., for dinner, a distance of almost 40 miles. The program is always well-subscribed.

IBJ is also sponsoring the Healthiest Employers of Indiana breakfast on Sept. 14, at which we will recognize companies that are leaders in shaping up. The awards will be established in categories based on the number of employees. Details and applications will be available in June.

Robert S. Wieder, former health columnist for Oui magazine, counted the calories burned during the 297 ways he had sex and posted results on the CalorieLab Web site. For example, having sex like it is some major emergency will burn 911 calories, Wieder found. This tongue-in-cheek (no pun intended) analysis may be of benefit to some, but I suspect most of us will have to burn our calories in the gym or on the Monon Trail.

Let's work together to reverse our unhealthy trend. As we try to bring business results up, let's pull the indications of poor health numbers down. It's good for business.

It is with profound sadness that I report the loss of my personal trainer, John R. Christy, who passed away at age 47 of a stroke on April 19. John was a gifted athlete who played varsity sports at Indiana University and professional baseball for the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers. He studied exercise physiology at Baylor University and was a confident professional in a field that could use more of his ilk.

He owned and operated Total Fitness Inc. in Nora, where he was a personal trainer, coach and mentor for me over the last 15 years. It was pursuant to John's carefully crafted exercise regimen that I coaxed this old body to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro 10 years ago, a task of which I am proud and forever grateful. It is in his memory that I pledge to stay in shape.

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Maurer is a shareholder in IBJ Media Corp., which owns Indianapolis Business Journal. His column appears every other week. To comment on this column, send e-mail to mmaurer@ibj.com.
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