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Auburn Calif. – Placer County employees have happy hearts. Placer has been recognized by the American Heart Association as a Gold Fit-Friendly Worksite for helping county employees achieve healthier lives through physical activity and good nutrition.

Each year the American Heart Association recognizes an elite list of employers who go above and beyond when it comes to their employees’ health. This is the county’s first time receiving the award for its employee wellness program.

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Placer’s employee wellness program promotes a variety of physical activities; provides supporting materials on exercise, nutrition education and stress management; offers wellness classes; and promotes an onsite farmers markets. County employees can also learn CPR, and first aid.

“Our employee wellness program is a great resource for our employees to engage in physical activity at work,” said Placer County Health and Human Services Director Jeff Brown. “Being named a Gold Fit-Friendly Workplace by the American Heart Association is a testament to Placer County’s dedication to the health and wellbeing of its employees and community.”

Between getting kids ready for school, extra-curricular activities, housework and other post-work obligations it’s easy to see how finding extra time for physical activity before and after work is nearly an impossible mission. The county’s employee wellness program offers tools to make good nutrition choices, physical activity outlets and the motivation and support for a healthy lifestyle.

During 2015, some workplace-sponsored physical activities included an eight-week, 5-5-5 challenge requiring employees to eat five serving of fruits and vegetables a day, exercise at least five times a week and engage in five activities a week to reduce stress. Employees also participated in a four-week steps challenge against the Placer County Office of Education, with employees forming teams and tracking their steps. The winners were recognized for their efforts publicly by the Placer County Board of Supervisors.

Fitness Fridays were implemented to encourage employees to wear sneakers on Fridays. Each month, a Fitness Friday lunchtime activity was posted to the employee wellness website. Employees were also encouraged to walk during breaks and offered maps of various walking routes and distances.

County leaders promoted wellness by conducting business meetings while walking.

February is American Heart Month and a good reminder that being physically active is important to prevent heart disease and stroke, the nation’s numbers one and five killers respectively. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need at least 2.5 hours a week of physical activity.

County employees better lace-up their sneakers in 2016 as the employee wellness program has their sights set on stepping up to the American Heart Association’s Platinum Fit-Friendly Worksite award.

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