SPRINGFIELD – Today the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), along with the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), held its 13th annual Fitness Day to encourage employees who spend most of their day in the workplace, to be more physically active. Fitness Day is part of National Employee Health & Fitness Day™ held every third Wednesday in May.
“Adults who work full time, especially those who spend most of their time behind a desk, get very little physical activity throughout the day. But without exercise and a proper diet, we face health consequences such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, asthma and obesity,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Eric E. Whitaker. “I want to encourage everyone, employers and employees alike, to make physical activity a priority in their lives.”
The most recent physical activity statistics for Illinois show that more than half, 64 percent, of working Illinoisans mostly sit or stand during the work day. When asked if they get any exercise, 25 percent said no and 52 percent said they don’t think they get enough exercise.
As part of Fitness Day, Dr. Whitaker is challenging all Illinois state agencies to be a part of the 3rd Annual Summer Physical Activity Challenge to help increase physical activity in the workplace. Participating employees will spend 12 weeks tracking either the number of steps or minutes of physical activity they accumulate on a daily basis. Twelve state agencies participated in the 2006 challenge and all together employees recorded more than 267 million steps and more than 1.5 million minutes of physical activity.
“Physical fitness is important to our overall health and well-being, so I am encouraging DHS staff to set an example by participating in this year's challenge,” said IDHS Secretary Carol L. Adams, Ph.D. “Even though we work all day, there are still opportunities to get out from behind the desk and start walking, whether it is on a break or during the lunch hour everyone can find time to walk for a few minutes everyday.”
The importance of promoting worksite wellness is recognized and listed as a National Goal in the federal document Healthy People 2010, which is the roadmap created by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services to improve our nation’s health. Research from the Harvard University School of Public Health finds that moderate exercise, accumulated throughout the day, can lower risk of Type 2 diabetes by nearly 50 percent. A National Health Institute study shows increased physical activity was associated with a reduced risk for breast cancer in postmenopausal women and a Health Professionals Follow-up Study finds that regular vigorous activity could slow the progression of prostate cancer.
This year’s Fitness Day included a volleyball tournament, one-mile and two-mile walk, Dance, Dance Revolution and a washers game.