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Good eating, exercise can help boost worker productivity

Bonnie Hennessy is always on the go in her office at the University of Louisville.

Bonnie Hennessy, U of L employee

"It was noticed by my co-workers. They say, 'step out of her way.'"

Daily exercise and better eating habits helped her lose weight and become more productive.

Hennessy continues

"I find my energy level increased, I don't hit an afternoon slump. Changing my eating habits has helped."

Kara Gallagher, Assistant Professor of Exercise Physiology

"Being overweight or obese can contribute to decreased productivity in the workplace."

Kara Gallagher, an assistant professor of exercise physiology at U of L, says this problem hits in more ways than one.

Gallagher continues

"When an individual has less energy he or she feels more sluggish. It can also lead to medical conditions that can contribute to increased absenteeism, earlier retirement, disability, and so on."

Gallagher, who researches weight loss programs, says two of every three adults are overweight and one of three is obese. Some companies are paying more attention to their employees' health by offering fitness and wellness programs. But if obesity continues its growing pace, healthcare costs will continue to grow, too.

Gallagher adds

"Medical costs associated with obesity have increased and that's part of the reason why companies are paying attention. Kentucky alone costs attributed to obesity are $one-point-one (b) billion. If we think of what that means for our workforce is we're going to see people retiring earlier with diseases…"

Gallagher suggests little steps to take at work to get the heart pumping, like walking to visit a co-worker instead of sending an email. Smarter food choices make a difference too. She recommends people eat breakfast everyday, eat a smart, healthy lunch, and find high protein foods for a snack to help eliminate that afternoon crash. Bonnie Hennessy says she is convinced that the combination of better eating habits and exercise has improved her work.

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