Up to 3 hours per week of paid exercise time is returning for GovGuam employees

The program that pays Guam government employees up to three hours a week to exercise is back in business after the COVID-19 pandemic forced its closure.

It kicked off again on March 19, marked by several sports and wellness activities held at the University of Guam Calvo Field House.

Created in 2012 through an executive order, the Workplace Wellness Program aims to create a resilient and stronger GovGuam workforce that lives longer and healthier lives.

“There is no other private sector or national entity that we are aware of, not even within a federal government that allows people the opportunity to do this,” according to Al Silverio, program coordinator for the ‘Guam Office of Minority Health. the Department of Public Health and Social Services. “To engage in fitness or wellness activities that promote good health, especially if it reduces cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity…we recognize that we have alarming rates of these diseases in Guam and by virtue of work”.

Silverio was part of the program before the pandemic shut it down.

At the time, about 10% of GovGuam’s workforce, or about 600 employees, were actively involved.

This time, they are shooting at 20%.

“That’s ambitious, yes, we get that. But we’re pushing it because the rates of people with diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease continue to rise,” Silverio said.

If the opportunity to live longer and healthier lives isn’t enough, Silverio said the irrefutable data is the program’s best marketing tool.

As an example, he said, about 85 percent of people who were infected with COVID-19 also had one or more noncommunicable diseases.

Of those who died from COVID-19, about 80% also had a non-communicable disease.

Guam had only one death from COVID-19, Silverio said, a young, healthy man with no pre-existing conditions.

How it works

Dozens of supervisors, called health coaches, have been assigned to supervise small groups of workers in GovGuam’s many agencies and departments.

They are responsible for encouraging, motivating and documenting employee participation. They will help Public Health track numbers like body mass index, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

Employees can exercise individually, although group workouts are encouraged in the workplace.

Silverio said that in 2019, employees found many creative ways to use their exercise hours, such as the Department of Public Works having parking drills and employees parking their vehicles away from the office, forcing them to walk back to their place. cars after work.

Another group did chair yoga. Others pledged to use only the stairs.

The health coaches will mark the participation of the day and send periodic data to Public Health.

An employee can certainly use the time to go to the gym and check in on their own, but any abuse of the program will not be tolerated.

Some employees will not be eligible, such as those who do not pass an initial health screening or employees who work in 100% federally funded jobs that do not allow this program.

Other employees who work critical jobs, or where no one can cover an hour’s absence, may also be ineligible at the supervisor’s discretion.

The program also offers programs to stop smoking and vaping, which are major contributors to poor health, Silverio said.

Through sponsorship and donations, Public Health has collected incentives and awards to reward employees.

Silverio said the awards aren’t the driver of the program, but it works because people are drawn to the awards.

Employees who wish to participate can email reina.s.capati@dphss.guam.gov.

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