Bank of the Islands, one of the oldest community banks in Lee County, was recognized by the American Heart Association for helping employees exercise and eat better.
The bank received recognition at both the Gold and Platinum Levels in the AHA's Fit-Friendly Worksite program, designed to emphasize healthy living, decrease healthcare expenses and improve worker productivity. According to the AHA, American employers lose an estimated $225.8 billion a year as a result of healthcare expenses and health-related loses in productivity.
Many employees who work at sedentary jobs and lack regular exercise are at higher risks of developing a number of health problems such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Bank of the Islands teller James O'Bryan was one of the bank's employees who participated in the Fit Friendly Worksite program through the American Heart Association. Mckenzie Cassidy.
James O'Bryan, a teller at Bank of the Islands, said the program helped him change his life. He was already relatively fit when the program began, but he still found parts of his lifestyle that could be tweaked.
"It was great motivation to stay in shape and get in shape," he said.
Employees first received a physical and even performed exercises as a baseline so health officials could track their progress. O'Bryan said they each received a detailed print out of what changes they could make to be even healthier.
"I ride my bike to work everyday, but since we started the health challenge, I was doing a lot of things like going to the recreation center," he said.
Besides working out more, he also made the decision to buy his weekly supply of fruit and vegetables at the Sanibel Farmer's Market. It was these small changes that made all the difference in living healthier, he said.
Employers recognized at the Platinum Level, like Bank of the Islands, offer its employees options for physical activity at work, options for healthy eating, promote a culture of wellness, implement nine criteria outlined by the AHA and demonstrate measurable outcomes.
Karen Brazelton, the Fit-Friendly Worksite team leader for the bank, said the program was a unique, easy-to-implement opportunity for employees to increase physical activity.
"Even people who haven't exercised regularly until middle age can reap significant benefits by starting a walking program," she said.
Brazelton said that according to a 1986 New England Journal of Medicine study, some adults may gain two hours of life expectancy for every hour of regular, vigorous exercise they perform.