Jari Johnston-Allen

Jari Johnston-Allen

Chief Executive Officer

American Cancer Society, Midwest Division

www.cancer.org

Waukesha

What does your daily or weekly fitness regime consist of? I exercise at least five days a week and the key to my success is variety. I stay fit by using a treadmill, elliptical machine, exercise DVDs, and a kettle ball. I also walk my dogs regularily and play golf.

What fitness clubs do you belong to, if any? At this time, I do not belong to a fitness club.

Other than the obvious health benefits, how has being fit improved your life? Like so many executives, my schedule can be hectic. Last fall, I realized I didnít have as much energy as I used to, I wasnít eating properly and I was experiencing some minor aches and pains. So, I told myself, ìEnough is enough! Youíve got to get serious.î And with that mindset, I put better nutrition and more exercise at the top of my list. The smallest modifcations in my lifestyle has made a huge difference.Over the last year, Iíve lost a significant amount of weight and lost inches from my body. Now, I feel great, have more energy and am motivated by my success to keep going.

How does personal fitness affect your work life? I have more energy and stamina to keep up with my busy work schedule.In addition, the American Cancer Societyís own research shows a healthy diet, along with regular physical activity, helps lower an individualís risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases.This is the message we promote when working with our corporate partners. Itís also the message we share with our employees. I feel itís important to ìwalk the walkî about eating a healthy diet, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight.

How does fitness or wellness affect your overall organization? The American Cancer Society, Midwest Division launched its ìDiscover a Healthier Youî welness program in spring 2008. The year-round program is designed to enhance and encourage the health and wellness of our staff. Since the program started, some of the activities implemented include: 1. Health risk assessment (completed in partnership with WebMD) that helps staff develop personalized health improvement plans. 2. Annual wellness reimbursement that compensates staff for fitness equipment, fitness classes and health club memberships.3. Physical activity programs like the 10-week ìActive for Lifeî program that helps staff become more physically active. 4. Monthly newsletter distributed across the four-state division to educate employees on a variety of health-related topics. In addition, American Cancer Society, Midwest Division employees recently finished a ìWalk Around the World.î For 6 weeks, 215 employees used pedometers to track their daily step total to increase their level of physical activity. At the end of the program, we met our goal and prizes were awarded to participants.Overall, staff like having a wellness program with organized activities and tips on how to eat better, be more physically active and educate others about cancer prevention. By participating in our wellness program, employees report a boost in their energy levels, significant weight loss and improved nutrition habits. Our goal is to have a healthier workforce, while having some fun along the way.

What advice do you have for other executives interested in starting either a personal fitness plan or corporate wellness initiative? Taking care of yourself can easily get lost in many other priorities, but those who want to start a personal fitness plan have an opportunity to lead by example. It is important to put yourself first, make personal fitness a top priority, and not let excuses get in the way of success. I find it helpful to set goals and celebrate milestones, no matter how small. You only have one body and you have to take care of it. Starting a corporate wellness initiative is a great way to improve the health of your employees along with their morale. Healthy employees save corporations millions of dollars each year. In the long run, not only will it save your corporation significant dollars in ìsick care costs,î but it will reduce absenteeism and increase productivity.

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