GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Across the country, employers are taking steps to decrease healthcare expenses and increase productivity.
Friday afternoon, the city of Gulfport was recognized for its efforts to make employees healthier, and was given a "fit-friendly" status by The American Heart Association.
Staying fit and healthy can be a job in itself, but having a wellness program in the workplace allowed workers like Ronda Cole to appreciate and take full advantage of getting fit and healthy.
"Initially I took advantage of it because I was interested in the cost savings, but once I started, of course I felt better, my clothes started fitting better, so I was excited and kept it going," Cole said.
Human Resource Manager Cheryl Millender is thrilled with the success of the wellness program city employees are taking advantage of.
"We have employees that have stopped smoking, employees that have been able to come off medication because they're losing weight. It makes us feel good because we know we're affecting people's lives in a positive manner," Millender said.
Once a week, city employees have the chance to get out of the office and get active. Not only is saving money an incentive and obvious motivator, walkers at Jones Park are able to keep track of their laps and their mile distances by using a color coated trail.
"On Thursdays we can bring our tennis shoes to work, we go down there. You see people from work and you see people that take advantage, citizens with their strollers, people from the office, and it's just good to see people getting in shape and getting active. I think that's the whole thing, just get out and get active," Cole said.
To Cole, that opportunity allows her to be successful with her fitness goals.
"It's good that the city looks at the employees and encourages us to be more health conscious, and look at our own health and wellness. I just think it makes for a better work environment when you have healthy employees and that the employers show they care about your health."