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FOR RELEASE: March 14, 2006
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Health Department Employees Climb Stairway to Health

Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) employees are now climbing stairs to health in their administrative office building in Oklahoma City, thanks to a new project designed to improve their work environment and promote positive health behaviors. State Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Crutcher unveiled the project recently before a gathering of employees to encourage them to get moving to improve their health by using the stairwells instead of the building’s elevators.

A journey up the stairs now becomes a unique virtual tour of Oklahoma’s natural wonders with the placement of large posters of Oklahoma’s state parks and resorts at each floor landing of the two stairwells in the 12-story building. The idea using the theme “Natural Steps to Better Health” originated from agency employee wellness groups as a way to improve employee health and encourage employees to become role models for Oklahoma’s citizens.

“If we are going to ask the people in the State of Oklahoma to increase their physical activity, then we must take the lead,” said Crutcher. “We hope employees will take a nature break by walking the stairs.”

The Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation participated in the launch of the project by providing walking tours using park rangers, naturalists and managers to explain the history of the photos and their locations in Oklahoma. Tourism officials encouraged health department employees to adopt healthier lifestyles by participating in healthy outdoor activities.

“All of us in public health work hard to enhance the health of Oklahomans but we sometimes neglect our own health,” said OSDH Wellness Coordinator Traci House. “By making small changes in our daily routine, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, we can positively influence other Oklahomans.”

“This is only one of several initiatives being used to improve the health of employees and to support the governor’s “A Strong and Healthy Oklahoma” initiative. We are hopeful these or similar initiatives will be implemented by businesses and schools across the state,” House said.

Additional health department initiatives include the following:
Exercise and Weight Training - Classes for up to 30 participants every Tuesday after work; include aerobic and light weight-bearing exercises.

Exercise with Lucie Video - In planning stages to produce 15- minute exercise videos for use on breaks and lunch.

Freedom from Smoking - American Heart Association’s smoking cessation program.

Healthy Living - Includes weekly wellness presentations and discussions.

Lunch and Learn Sessions - Cover a variety of topics and are offered at least three times per year during lunchtime and statewide videoconferencing to county health department sites.

National Employee Health and Fitness Day - A national, annual observance where employees are encouraged to participate in health topics and events throughout the day.

OK Health Program - Offered by the state Employees Benefits Council as a state wellness program for all active state employees. This program includes behavior change models and one-on-one telephone mentoring.

OKC Memorial Marathon - A group of employees are training for this marathon.

Walk-Away-the-Pounds -An OSDH Employee Wellness Program that distributes videos to employees with a one-mile walk/work-out during breaks and at lunch.

Healthy Weight Loss Programs - OSDH employees participate in healthy weight loss programs. In 2005, 25 participants in a pilot program lost a combined total of more than 650 pounds.

Wellness Farmer’s Market - This market is offered at the central office every Friday during the summer and fall, selling fresh produce to OSDH and OU Health Sciences Center campus employees.

Wellness Bulletin Boards - Communication on wellness-related events and information from health departments across the state.

Yoga - A class offered every Monday to employees at the central office after work.

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