Fitbit and Employee Wellness
Original Source: Christina Farr, Fastcompany.com, April 18, 2016
Most mornings, Brett Broviak rises at 4:30 for a walk around a nearby track before work. The winters in his native Indiana are long and cold, but Broviak trudges on. Occasionally, he steals a glance at his Fitbit to check his progress toward his daily goal: 20,000 steps, or about 10 miles.
It wasn’t always that way. In 2014, Broviak’s cholesterol and blood sugar levels were sky-high. After years of unhealthy habits, his weight had ballooned to 255 pounds. Like many Americans, he regularly indulged in fast food and drove almost everywhere, including to the Indiana University Health Center where he worked as a respiratory therapy manager. "I was borderline diabetic," he says. "I knew I had to make some changes."
Broviak is now the poster child for his employer’s corporate wellness program. When the university’s health center introduced a weight-loss challenge in 2014 with an option to buy a discounted Fitbit, Broviak enthusiastically signed on. In a sin-gle month, he topped 1 million steps and eventually shed 30 pounds and lowered his cholesterol to normal levels, after also changing his diet.
Broviak is not alone in his health kick. Employers across the country are handing out activity trackers by the thousands and creating corporate wellness challenges to motivate employees to adopt healthier—and more productive—lifestyles. Obesity sets back American businesses a mammoth $73.1 billion per year in medical expenses and lost productivity, according to a Duke University study. And researchers have found that morbidly obese employees cost their companies, on average, more than twice as much in health care and related costs as normal-weight ones do.