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Crow Wing Energized: A Healthier Workplace

Raised garden beds next to the Brainerd Dispatch building prove to be good growing spots with tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, pepper, lettuce, carrots, onions and snap peas among the produce. Submitted photo1 / 2
Crow Wing Energized offers Workplace Wellness grants of up to $500 to support workplaces. The Brainerd Dispatch used such a grant to plant raised gardens at the work site, with staff volunteering efforts, adding produce to lunches and learning what varieties can easily grown here. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch 2 / 2

Many of our waking hours are spent at work. When we commit to improving our health, we must consider the impact of our work environment.

Tempting breakroom treats, hours at a desk ... it can be a roadblock in our personal goal to be healthier. Our bodies are designed for movement but modern technological advancements have changed our world and our living environments to such an extent that many of us often find ourselves sitting for more than 9.5 hours a day.

Sitting for extended periods of time increases our risk of cardiovascular disease, lowers HDL (good) cholesterol, increased insulin issues, weight gain and some cancers.

On average, Americans spend approximately 8.8 hours a day on work-related activities. This is more than any other single aspect of their day. The health of workers is tied to the health and productivity of the workplace.

A healthy, motivated employee is vitally important to a workplace as a whole and has a significant impact on an employer's bottom line. Poor health of employees is correlated with a 51 percent decrease in overall productivity, with lost employee productivity due to health issues costing companies an estimated $225.8 billion annually, or $1,685 per employee per year.

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Healthy and wellness grants for workplaces

Would you like to implement healthy change in your workplace? Crow Wing Energized offers Workplace Wellness grants of up to $500 to support workplaces. Applications are now open and can be found at or by contact Kalsey Stults at 218-828-7343 or

Crow Wing Energized is a grassroots community movement led by Essentia Health and Crow Wing County Community Services to improve health and wellness in the community by making healthy choices essential. In 2018, over $74,000 in grant funding was awarded to local schools, workplaces, and community partners who provided $210,000 of in-kind support to implement health and wellness initiatives.

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Annually, the number of missed work days due to chronic diseases and co-morbid conditions totals 2.5 billion, resulting in a loss of $1.1 trillion dollars due to absenteeism and decreased productivity.

Obese adults spend 42 percent more on direct health care costs than adults who are of healthy weight.

Many local workplaces are taking steps to incorporate healthy change to support employees. The Brainerd Dispatch, for example, formed a Workplace Wellness Team, and through that team have taken multiple steps to encourage healthy choices in both food selection and physical activity. The team posts reminders to co-workers about making good beverage choices. They've organized a bike ride open to all levels of skill and set up a kayak outing for employees.

It takes both time and money to start a new project. Crow Wing Energized provides grants to help businesses start health and wellness initiatives. The Brainerd Dispatch received one of the grants to construct and plant raised garden beds. To help improve eating habits, employees were educated on some of the options easily grown in our area. In the spring, they plan to involve volunteers from their staff to plant the gardens again.

Besides the focus on utilizing fresh produce, they have helped make the healthy choice the easy choice by ordering salads from Valeri Ann's weekly.

Bridges of Hope also received a grant from Crow Wing Energized. They plan to use the funds to increase the number of wellness efforts in place with their human services and retail staff, specifically encouraging them to drink more water with reusable water bottles, creating a map for walking breaks, installing standing desks for newer staff (existing staff have them) and implementing an every-hour reminder to stand and stretch for all staff. Water consumption is encouraged with a "friendly" competition for individual daily water consumption goals.

The annual return on investment for worksite wellness programs is $3-$6 saved for every $1 spent after about 2 to 5 years.

Sources: Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Statewide Health Improvement Initiatives accessed 9/5/2013