North Dakota University System
UND Recognized as an American Heart Association Platinum-Level Fit-Friendly Worksite

Posted on 10/12/2012

University of North Dakota has been recognized as a Platinum-Level Fit-Friendly Worksites by the American Heart Association for helping employees eat better and move more.

UND leaders and employees will accept the award from the American Heart Association on Monday, Oct. 15, just before University President Robert Kelley and First Lady Marcia Kelley lead employees to the Grand Opening of the indoor walking paths through the parking ramp stairwells and skywalks. The event will begin promptly at 11:30 a.m., in Swanson Hall, along University Avenue next to the Memorial Union, with a brief presentation of the award.

UND will be accepting its fifth Platinum-level award and is the only entity in the state to receive platinum status. The award is given for meeting criteria in the areas of physical activity, nutrition, having a culture of wellness and increasing the number of employees that participate in worksite wellness.

UND had a spectacular year by reaching a record of 50.2 percent or 1,382 employees that participated in at least one worksite wellness activity. This is a 38 percent relative increase from the previous year. When asked about the increase, Kim Ruliffson, coordinator of the worksite wellness program, Work Well, said "Most of the increase has to do with the Advanced Ambassador Program. There are 56 staff and faculty that volunteer to be Ambassadors and have invited wellness staff to their meetings to provide programs on health, fitness and nutrition topics. Other popular programs that provided an increase in employee participation were through BCBSND. The Health Club Credit program incentivizes employees and spouses for working out at a gym 12 days a month and the HealthyBlue program incentivizes employees and spouses that use the on-line wellness tracking program."

"Employee wellness is a critical priority at the University of North Dakota and the ‘Work Well' program aligns nicely with our Exceptional UND goals to enhance quality of life for faculty and staff. We are excited to unveil a new indoor path for staff, faculty and students to use in the North Dakota winters to ensure safe, marked areas for exercise", said President Kelley. "We're committed to providing the best workplace environment possible. This will benefit our employees' health and produce even more positive results for our worksite overall."

Fit Friendly employers:

Offer employees physical activity options in the workplace.
Increase healthy eating options at the worksite.
Promote a wellness culture in the workplace.
Implement at least nine criteria outlined by the American Heart Association in the areas of physical activity, nutrition and culture.
Demonstrate measurable outcomes related to workplace wellness.

Ruliffson says that in the past year, UND implemented health coaching to help employees and spouses make wellness goals as part of the free health screening offered conveniently on campus and also included nutrition and dietetic students at screenings. Additionally, the I CAN Prevent Diabetes 16 week program was new this year and the results were life-changing for participants to understand the food they eat and increase exercise to prevent the on-set of diabetes. There has also been continued success with current programs such as Weight Watchers at Work, where the participants from campus shed over 4,000 pounds since November 2009.

The Fit-Friendly Worksites program is catalysts for positive change in the American workforce by helping worksites make their employees' health and wellness a priority.

American employers are losing an estimated $225.8 billion a year because of healthcare expenses and health-related losses in productivity, and those numbers are rising. Many American adults spend most of their waking hours at sedentary jobs. Their lack of regular physical activity raises their risk for a host of medical problems, such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Employers face $12.7 billion in annual medical expenses due to obesity alone. The American Heart Association is working to change corporate cultures by motivating employees to start walking, which has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity.

"The Fit-Friendly Worksites Program offers a unique, easy-to-implement opportunity for corporations to increase employees' physical activity, which will help improve their health - and their employers' bottom line," said Joan Enderle, Communication Director for the American Heart Association in North Dakota. "Even people who haven't exercised regularly until middle age can reap significant benefits by starting a walking program. A study published in 1986 in the New England Journal of Medicine found that some adults may gain two hours of life expectancy for every hour of regular, vigorous exercise they performed."

For more information about the Fit-Friendly Worksites program and how it is helping to improve the health of Americans by focusing on an activity that is convenient, free and easy, visit or call 701-252-5122.

American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke - America's No. 1 and No. 4 killers. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation's oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or join us, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or any of our offices around the country, or visit


Joan Enderle
American Heart Association Communication Director

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