August 4, 2008

American Specialty Health Employees Walk Millions of Steps By ‘Going Green’ With Their Fitness Routines

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 4, 2008 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- American Specialty Health (ASH), one of the nation's leading health improvement organizations, recently held a walking contest that focused on improving employee health with an eye on eco-friendly habits.

Of ASH's 604 employees, 369 participated in the contest, which was designed to boost wellness and environmentally-friendly physical activity in a time when obesity trends are at their highest.

Recent studies show that over two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese. In light of these trends, ASH held its first "Go Green With Your Routine" challenge to increase staff exercise by encouraging walking and running activities. Studies have also found that a healthier workforce is more productive and can help save employers money on health care costs. The walking challenge was presented to employees as a fun way to invoke a spirit of camaraderie, compete in a friendly way, and drum up interest in healthy exercise and green-living.

"We couldn't be happier with the results of the Go Green with Your Routine challenge," said ASH chairman and CEO George DeVries. "The challenge's dual purpose of raising awareness for the environment and of walking for better health shows how ASH leads by example in providing cutting-edge-and fun-wellness programs to our clients."

After contributing a $20 copay, participating employees received wireless activity monitors that tracked the number of steps and miles they walked, as well as calories burned. Special sensors were placed throughout the building to collect that data every time an employee walked by. This data was then sent to their personal online Healthyroads account, which allowed employees to track their progress online.

Healthyroads is ASH's wellness subsidiary and its programs are offered at no cost to ASH employees as part of their overall health benefit program. Through Healthyroads, employees have access to phone-based coaching for weight management, tobacco cessation, and healthy living, and they can utilize online tools to create personal exercise and meal plans. Employees also have access to health trackers and award-winning health improvement educational materials.

The contest goal for each participant was to walk 150,000 steps over the course of a month (roughly 5,000 steps a day). Seventy percent of employees who signed up for the contest achieved the goal. Participating employees were allowed to dress casually and wear jeans and tennis shoes for the entire month. Those who achieved or surpassed the contest goal were awarded with an earth-friendly, reusable canvas bag, which is designed to eliminate the need for wasteful plastic grocery and other shopping bags.

Many ASH employees went above and beyond the requirement, with 22 employees reaching 400,000 steps, three walking more than 700,000 steps, and two breaking the 900,000 step mark. One employee even topped 1 million steps over the contest period! In total, the winners of the contest walked 70,962,027 steps over 31 days. This is roughly equivalent to walking around the world -- and then some!

The "Go Green With Your Routine" contest was promoted at ASH all-staff meetings, on ASH's company-wide intranet, and on colorful and engaging posters throughout the ASH headquarters building. These posters also offered tips on how to be physically active AND environment-friendly.

The challenge was implemented by ASH's own Wellness Consulting Services team. This and several other wellness initiatives are offered by Healthyroads to employer group clients to help them motivate their employees to live active and healthier lives with the goal of improving employee morale, lowering illness-related absenteeism, and lowering employer health care costs. By testing the program at ASH first, the Healthyroads team was able to determine the time and resources required for other employers to implement such a program in their own organization.

About American Specialty Health (ASH)

American Specialty Health Incorporated is a leading personal health improvement organization, providing specialty managed care programs, fitness programs, health coaching, reward programs, Internet solutions, and worksite wellness programs to health plans, insurance carriers, employer groups, and trust funds nationwide.

Based in San Diego, ASH has over 600 employees and covers more than 13 million members in specialty managed care, fitness, and health coaching and wellness programs. For more information, visit ASH online at or call 800.848.3555.

This news release was distributed by PrimeNewswire,

 CONTACT:  American Specialty Health            Debby Clark             800.848.3555             [email protected]           Tim Curns             619.578.2000             [email protected]