Federal Government Launches 2007 HealthierFeds Physical Activity Challenge

Campaign Urges Federal Workforce to Be Active to Improve Health

WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 -- In an effort to help federal workers keep their New Year's resolutions to adopt healthier lifestyles, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today kicked off the 2007 HealthierFeds Physical Activity Challenge. The Challenge encourages federal employees to be physically active by instituting a friendly competition to have the greatest percentage of employees register and complete a six week physical activity program.

"We know from research that 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking, five or more days a week yields significant health benefits and reduces the risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes," said HHS Deputy Secretary Alex Azar. "We're proud to work with OPM to provide our workforce, retirees and families with tools and motivation to take steps toward better health and serve as an example of how employers nationwide can encourage their workforce to strive for a healthier life."

The Challenge calls for registrants to be active at least 30 minutes a day on five days of the week for six weeks and to log their activities online. It uses the President's Challenge, a program of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, to track each participant's activities. Over a two week period (January 22-February 5), participants in the HealthierFeds Challenge may register as a member of their organization at http://www.healthierfeds.gov (click on HealthierFeds Fitness Challenge 2007) and begin logging their activities. They may choose to log items from a list of more than 100 activities, including walking, running; bicycling, swimming, dancing, yoga, competitive sports; household tasks, gardening, working out on cardio machines, and weight training.

"The 2007 HealthierFeds Challenge is the first program of OPM's Year of the HealthierFeds campaign," said OPM Director Linda Springer. "I invite all agencies to join our efforts to build a healthier federal workforce. The workplace represents a unique opportunity to reach Americans at work, where they spend a large part of their lives."

OPM, HHS, and the Office of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports previously sponsored the HealthierFeds Physical Activity Challenge in 2004, when approximately 30,000 employees in 30 agencies and departments nationwide participated. The 2007 Challenge, also jointly sponsored by OPM, HHS and the Office of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, expands the program's reach and broadens its scope to include employees in all branches of the government, civilian and military, as well as retirees, contractors and family members working and living throughout the world.

The benefits of an active workforce to employers have been well documented and include improvements in:

* Employee health and morale;
* Stress management;
* Job performance, which can result in economic benefits for employers;
* Reduced absenteeism.

According to HHS, 66.3 percent of American adults are overweight or obese (32.2 percent obese) and 17 percent of youth ages 2-19 are overweight (a number that has tripled since 1980). Surveillance data from the states indicate that less than half (48.7) of U.S. adults get the recommended minimum of 30 minutes a day of physical activity required for significant health benefits.