Muskegon's 'Extreme Health' Challenge

December 2, 2005
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MUSKEGON — The Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce is encouraging its members to take on a resolution to get healthier with the help of the Extreme Health Makeover Challenge.

The Challenge, which begins in January, is a chance for chamber members and their employees to keep track of the decisions they make that impact their health and well-being, in hopes of making healthier decisions over the following six months.

Participants will fill out a report card detailing their activity level, sleeping habits, weight and body mass index, nutrition, tobacco use, alcohol use, safety, hydration, prevention and caffeine use. The report card is for reference so the participant can see where they may need to improve. The card is set up with “yes” or “no” questions to help monitor goals. At the end of the six months, participants will fill out the report card again and determine their progress, said Janessa Stroud, governmental relations coordinator for the Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce.

“You want all of your columns to say ‘yes’ eventually,” she said.

Participants will receive an Extreme Health Makeover Challenge Directory listing the names and contact information for chamber members who can be resources in changing unhealthy behaviors.

Stroud said they will keep in touch with a representative of each participating business through e-mail and the chamber’s Web site. There will also be updates about new opportunities through the chamber, and other resources that may be of help.

“It’ll be our means of keeping them excited and helping them to continue promoting the challenge to the participants,” Stroud said of communicating with the group leader. “It’s meant to encourage them to look at living a healthier lifestyle.”

Stroud said the program is in response to a need expressed in the business community through a health insurance survey. Many companies had discontinued wellness programs as budgets tightened.

“Unfortunately, that’s one of the ways they trim the fat, and it’s kind of a double edged sword,” Stroud said.

Kim Jahn, co-chairwoman of the Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce Health Committee and the employee assistance program coordinator and therapist at Child and Family Services, said the group developed the program in response to the rising costs of health care and the need to raise awareness of health choices.

“We just felt it would be an opportune time for employers to look at some of the things they may be able to do to have a long-term impact on health,” she said.

Kahn said she hopes the program will “plant the seed that there are some ways that (employees) might begin to improve their health.”

Though the committee is only looking as far as June, Kahn said she hopes the program will inspire businesses to take it another step.

“We’re hoping that this might encourage a couple businesses to challenge each other to see who can make the most improvement to their health status in a fun way,” she said.

Linda Bailey, executive director of West Shore Health Network and co-chairwoman of the Health Committee, said she hopes the program is a way to ask, “Where are you and do you want to take the next six months to make a change?”

Though points are awarded, Bailey said the program is not about big prizes.

“It’s about the recognition and saying to the community, ‘I’ve engaged in health care for my community,’ ” she said.

Businesses that would like to take part in the program should contact Stroud at the Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce, (231) 722-3751, by Dec. 10. Cost is $25 for one to 20 employees, $50 for 21 to 99 employees and $75 for 100 or more employees.    

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