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Wellness at American Heart Association's San Diego division

The American Heart Association's San Diego division takes health and wellness seriously. It is important to be both a resource and an example to others when it comes to addressing company health and wellness.

The division created its wellness team back in 2007 with the emphasis on employee engagement -- giving them the opportunity to take some small steps toward the creation of an actual internal wellness campaign. A year later the American Heart Association launched its Start! Fit Friendly Companies program.

The San Diego team immediately replaced its office snacks with heart healthy fruits and vegetables, as well as removing sodas from the vending machines. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

Heart healthy is a part of the daily regimen at the office. Employees are given the option to take an organized "walk and talk" walking break at either 10 a.m. or 3 p.m. every day. The division also hosts heart-healthy potlucks around holidays and other events, often using the American Heart Association cookbook and recipes as a theme.

In addition, employees take spin classes at the local health center, have monthly lunch outings that usually involve walking to a location where they can enjoy lunch and engage in a heart-healthy activity.

All of these activities encourage team building while providing one more option to make a heart-healthy decision.

The efforts of the local division not only have resulted in having the American Heart Associtiation's Western States Affiliate recognized as a Start! Fit Friendly Company, but also increasing morale.

In addition, Elizabeth MacPhail, the receptionist at the San Diego division, was recognized with the Western States Affiliate's Lifestyle Change Award at the 2009 Staff Conference.

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