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Company cash incentives lead employees to live healthier lifestyles

Tuesday, October 05, 2010 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: health, cash incentives, health news

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(NaturalNews) Money talks, even when getting it requires significant lifestyle changes, says a new study out of the University of Michigan (UM). When offered a roughly small monetary sum in exchange for committing to a handful of healthy lifestyle changes, more than half of IBM's employees and their families participated in the program. And half of those successfully completed it, integrating the new habits as part of their new health-centered family lifestyle.

More than 22,000 of IBM's 40,000 U.S. employees recently participated in a test program where the company offered $150 to workers who agreed to participate in and complete a 12-week health-promotion program that involved things like increasing vegetable intake in the family diet, exercising more as a family, and reducing time spent on the computer or watching television. Researchers realized incredible success with the program, as most of the participants not only completed the program, but actually made a healthy habit of the new activities.

"I think this program was likely successful because once these activities were pointed out to the employees, they probably felt like it was a no-brainer," explained Dee Edington, study author and director of the UM Health Management Research Center in Ann Arbor. "They could make their families healthier and receive the incentive."

Published in the journal Pediatrics, the study highlights how simple incentives can go a long way in promoting the health of employees and their families. Besides reducing the number of sick days employees take, having healthy employees with healthy families reduces company healthcare costs as well, as healthy families require less medical services.

When all was said and done, more than 11,000 IBM employees had made it a habit with their families to engage in more physical activity, eat more meals together and spend less time preoccupied with electronic distractions, which sets such a program as a positive example for other companies to imitate.

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