Knowing that the workplace is where people spend vast quantities of time, the Hadassah Medical Organization’s Linda Joy Pollin Cardiovascular Wellness Center for Women launched a unique course to encourage heart healthy living—during the work day.

Entitled “Ambassadors of Health: Health Promotion in the Workplace, this program for national and municipal employees, was jointly designed and implemented with Na’amat, a nonprofit women’s organization that provides a broad range of services to enhance quality of life for women and children. Each of the participating workplaces agreed to send workers to the course during work time, as well as to finance costs of the program’s implementation. Extending over 16 weeks, the course included advanced instruction in nutrition, physical activity, heart disease, stress reduction, and how to design and implement a workplace health promotion project.

At the summation event, the graduates presented programs they created, which were tailored to their individual places of work. Among the project proposals were systems for providing healthy refreshments at meetings, including pre-arranged shopping lists, with an eye toward ensuring that the food did not cost more than the standard refreshments usually served; encouragement of physical activity at work with walking groups and competitions; incentives to persuade people to take the stairs rather than the elevator; and ideas to lower workplace stress levels.

Several of these programs, the Pollin Center reports, have already been implemented, with the employers pledging to put their support behind these initiatives. In addition, staff from the Pollin Center will continue to mentor and guide the participants.

At present, participating locations include the Ministries of the Environment, Treasury, Taxation, Economic Affairs, Religious Affairs, and Infrastructure, as well as multiple offices in the Municipality of Jerusalem. “We expect hundreds of workers to be affected by these changes,” the Pollin Center notes, and both Pollin and Na’amat are interested in expanding this pilot program to other work sites in Jerusalem and throughout the country.

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