Colorado weekend warriors: Conference looks at keeping them healthy and well on the job, too

Colorado is a healthy state; we know this. In 2012, the state ranked eleventh overall, according to America's Health Rankings, provided by the United Health Foundation. And there's no doubt Coloradans are supreme weekend warriors. On Saturdays and Sundays, they run and bike anywhere the ground is solid, climb anything sticking out of the earth, ski anywhere there's snow, and eat so health-consciously that even the dirtiest dive bars offer a humus plate. But what about the other five days of the week?

What about the folks who spend hours seated behind desks, in front of computer screens, who have to rely on mainlined caffeine to power through the day? Turns out, Colorado's got something for that as well.

On Wednesday, April 10, the Colorado Culture of Health Conference will be held at the Denver Marriot City Center. The conference features speakers such as Denver Nuggets coach George Karl, whose involvement off the basketball court centers on work with various cancer research and care groups (he is a survivor of prostate cancer), and Jeff Tetrick, the CFO of Pinnacol Assurance, a Colorado company that deals with worker's compensation and workplace safety, among other things.

Tetrick took part in a teleconference about the conference earlier today -- and the various speakers made it clear that changing regulations prompted by the implementation of the Obama administration's health-care plan, health and wellness in the workplace is becoming more than a suggestion to most businesses owners; it's an important area of operating a functional business in general.

In 2009, Tetrick's company embarked on a five-year plan to evaluate workplace health and wellness in Colorado. Executives asked themselves one basic question: Can we improve the health of the Colorado worker? They run employees from participating companies through an assessment that provides a breakdown of strengths and weaknesses in the professional health and wellness realm.

"We're going to do this measurement for five years. It's a study -- we plan on publishing the results," Tetrick says. "We really want this study to be groundbreaking work: How can mainstream business improve the health of their employees? Nobody has done this kind of work for the small employer."

Patty Goodwin agrees. The director of surveys for Mountain State Employers Council, a company that deals with human resource and employment laws, she notes that a recent study conducted by MSEC found that 65 percent of the responding companies have some sort of wellness program for their employees.

"We asked the employers not only did they have a wellness program, but whether it was working and whether they saw a reduction in their health-care costs," she says. "And 41 percent said they did."

These are just a few of the discussion areas that will be offered at the conference, which will also feature an address by Adam Bosworth, the founder and chief technology officer of Keas, on innovative approaches to employee wellness through social media and gaming.

And for the weekend warriors who are looking for a little more variety during the work week, there may even be a discussion about the benefits of adult recess. That's something everyone can get on board with.

More information on the conference can be found here.

More from our Politics archive: "Supreme Court health care ruling: Advocates praise it, tout Colorado reforms."

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