Atlanta VA Health Care System
Atlanta VAMC Fitness Center helps staff stay in shape
While some Atlanta VAMC employees meet up at the cafeteria for a lunch of burger and fries, Engineering Electronics Mechanic Kevin Mullis and Plumber Jimmy Lane complete 30 minutes of circuit training, burning close to 1,000 total calories. Instead of rushing home after work to watch sports, Information Security Officer Curtis Allen is engaged in an intense upper body workout to build strength and endurance. These are just two examples of how the new VAMC fitness center is helping employees stay in shape.
"It’s right here, so I have no excuses not to use it. Plus, I feel great afterward," said Lane who along with Mullis do a mix of strength training and cardiovascular exercises.
Dr. Michael Miller, VAMC Chief of Occupational Health Services, believes workplace health and fitness programs benefit the medical center as much as the employees. "Fit and healthy employees mean higher productivity, lower absenteeism and reduced work-related stress," Miller said.
If that’s not enough, Patient Escort Freddie Harris points out how the new fitness center also pays off in better employee attitude. "Without question having a place to work out at the job improves employee morale, Harris said. "A healthy employee is a happy employee."
According to Dr. Miller, an effective worksite wellness program can attract exceptional employees, enhance morale and reduce organizational conflict. Since so many VAMC staff spend so much time on the job, Dr. Miller said it makes sense to incorporate a health and fitness program into the workday or make it available on the work site. He added that an increasing number of employees are taking advantage of the opportunity and finding that workplace workouts work.
Dr. Janet Will, a VAMC Mental Health Psychiatrist, says the opportunity to exercise during the workday helps release stress and allows staff to take a break from their work schedules to take care of their physical and emotional needs. "I use it every day at lunchtime," she said "I have two kids at home to care for, so it is extremely convenient to be able to exercise while at work. Dr. Will said she feels more productive and efficient after her lunch time work-out. "My long-term fitness goal is to be able to work until I am 70 years old, so by exercising on a daily basis, I will hopefully stay healthy enough to work that long."
For information on how to gain access to the VAMC Fitness Center, located in room GA 238 and open 24 hours, seven days a week, contact the Occupational Health office at extension 6475.