Washington City employees have a good reason to become more physically active. In an effort to reduce the number of health insurance claims and keep insurance rates lower, Mayor Joe Wellman and a group of the employees have started City of Washington on the Move or CoW on the Moo’ve, an initiative to keep employees healthier.
The program will reward participants for exercising, having blood work completed, and attending health fairs among other things.
“For every 20 minutes of exercise, employees get one point. Those employees who earn 250 points between Oct. 1 and June 30, will be entered into a drawing for a prize,” said Anita Ash, utilities office manager. “Going to health fairs and wellness clinics will also get you one point.”
Prizes will also be awarded to employees who earn 25 points in each quarter. Each employee is given a logbook to keep track of the points earned. The first prize drawing will be held in early December.
While participation in the program is voluntary, Ash and Rob Hamm, of the wastewater department, said many of the city employees have started participating in some form of exercise or another.
Anytime Fitness and the Daviess County Family YMCA have partnered with the city to offer various membership options so employees can work out when time allows. Various classes and activities are also forming where employees go to exercise together.
For Ash and Hamm working out is a part of their daily lives.
Ash said she participates in a variety of activities including aqua zumba and yoga in addition to walking. “I also plan to start back up with a spinning class in November at the Y,” she said.
Hamm leads a group of walkers on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings at Eastside Park, lifts weights and works out at Anytime Fitness with some other employees.
“Once the mayor’s plan came out, I knew I could help motivate others to get involved,” said Hamm, who has survived severe blockages in his heart, seven stents, and a triple bypass in 2005. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for working out. It’s all about trying to help motivate employees to get themselves in better shape.”
An veteran of the Army, Hamm had lifted weights for many years. It wasn’t until he noticed some changes in how he felt during his workouts that he discovered he had major blocked arteries and was need of surgery.
“I had one artery blocked 98 percent, one blocked 95 percent, one 75 percent and one 50 percent. The doctors kept asking if I was in pain and I wasn’t. They just couldn’t believe it,” said Hamm.
Hamm strongly believes if it wasn’t for his workout regimen he wouldn’t be here. “It was during my workouts when I noticed things just didn’t feel right and I went to get checked out. Had I not known how I usually felt, things could have been a lot worse.”
Three days after surgery, Hamm was up and walking and he now incorporates cardio into his workouts as well. After his stents were replaced, Hamm also quickly recovered.
“I wanted up and out of that bed. I wanted to go back to work. When something like this (major surgery) happens, the smallest things can get you down but you can’t let it. You have to find motivation. My daughter just had a little girl and I want to be around for her,” said Hamm.
After a recent appointment, Hamm’s doctor told him his heart had no damage.
“My doctor credits that to all my exercise but I don’t just do it for my heart. People don’t always understand the other benefits. It’s great stress relief. Have a bad day? Go hit the treadmill or hit the punching bag,” he said.
Hamm said he hears many people say they don’t go to the gym because they don’t know how to workout or are embarrassed. “There’s no reason to be embarrassed. Those people who look so good in the gym, haven’t always looked that way.”
Chief of Police Mike Healy said members of his department do physical training tests two times a year and most also work out with weights.
Randy Emmons of the electric department said that many of the employees in his department are walking.
Whatever the form of physical activity, the most important outcome of the CoW on the Moo’ve program is to help employees get themselves into better shape.
“I hope that people will see what that few minutes of exercise is doing for others and they’ll want to participate too,” said Hamm. “Changes won’t happen overnight but in the end, you’ll be a healthier you.”