Lunenburg town employees take part in health program
Lunenburg town employees recently participated in the MIIA’s Heart Matters wellness program, a free 11-week health improvement program designed to promote long-term lifestyle adjustments that may help prevent and reduce the risk of heart disease. In turn, this could help municipalities reduce health insurance costs. Cumulative statistics show that participants exercised more, made healthier diet choices, saw a reduction in stress, and even lost weight during the program.
The Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association (MIIA) Health Benefits Trust created and launched Heart Matters in 2008 to address the onset of risk factors that may lead to heart disease. Its premise is that understanding and adjusting lifestyle behaviors over the long term may help prevent and reduce the risk of heart disease and keep municipal employees healthy. In turn, this could help municipalities reduce their health insurance costs. The program is offered at no cost to members of the MIIA Health Benefits Trust.
The Heart Matters program reached a milestone this summer, with MIIA having offered Heart Matters to the 21st municipality and to 360 individual participants. Cumulative findings among all participants from pre- and post-program evaluations show statistically significant results toward improving behaviors that may prevent heart disease and other chronic diseases. Some of the key findings are:
* The percent of participants that exercised one or more hours per week increased during the program (30 percent)
* The percent of participants that made significantly better choices in their diet increased in multiple behavioral areas during the program (an average of 16 percent; eight of 21 municipalities surveyed)
* The average weight among participants in the program showed a decline of 2.5 pounds, with 54 percent losing one pound or more during the program
Heart Matters is directed and managed by Sandra J. Sarni, RD, MS, LDN, and MIIA’s Nutrition Specialist. Judith P. Lytle, MD, primary care internist at Boston Medical Center’s Medical Care Affiliates and a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMA) and the American Medical Association (AMA), is medical advisor for Heart Matters.
“To a medical professional, the Heart Matters program is so exciting because participants are empowered to change the course of their future health situation,” said Dr. Lytle. “Whether an individual has a family history of heart disease or is at risk because of lifestyle factors, cardiovascular disease is one of a few medical conditions where the outcome is modifiable – every one of us can make changes to improve our health.”
“We are encouraged by the results of the Heart Matters program,” said Stan Corcoran, MIIA Executive Vice President. “They demonstrate that municipal leaders are recognizing the importance of positive lifestyle behaviors and empowering employees to improve their health and wellbeing through wellness programs, such as Heart Matters, that are offered at the workplace.”
The Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association (MIIA) is the non-profit insurance arm of the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA). MIIA Health Benefits Trust provides health coverage for the employees and retirees of cities, towns and other governmental entities in Massachusetts that are members of the MMA.
For more information, visit emiia.org and mma.org.
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