November 13, 2007

Sandia/California named a fit business by the California Wellness Task Force

Sandia California's Life Design Center offers mentor-led walking groups and other exercise programs for its employees, one of the reason the site was honored with a Fit Business Award by the state of California. Sandia California's Life Design Center offers mentor-led walking groups and other exercise programs for its employees. (Photo by Randy Wong)
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LIVERMORE, CALIF. — Sandia National Laboratories’ California site has met the gold standard, at least according to the California Task Force on Youth and Workplace Wellness. The lab’s Preventive Health and Life Design Center (LDC) initiative has been honored by the task force with a 2007 California Fit Business Award, a program that seeks and recognizes business models that promote a healthier workplace.

The California Fit Business Awards recognize the value of a fit and healthy workplace to organizations and workers alike. Sandia health promotion coordinator and educator Morgan Edwinson was presented with a Gold trophy by State Senator Tom Torlakson at a Nov. 8 ceremony in Sacramento. The Gold award is the highest level of recognition in the program.

The awards program is a coordinated effort between the California Task Force on Youth and Workplace Wellness and the California Department of Health Services, 5 a Day – Be Active! Worksite Program. The annual awards program was first launched in 2003 with private and non-profit companies across California seeking to recognize business models that promote a healthier workplace.

“It’s nice to see how Sandia is doing compared to other companies,” says Edwinson. “We think we are doing a good job, and it’s nice to see that proven against an established benchmark.” The award is especially gratifying, says Edwinson, in that the recognition comes from an outside entity with established standards and references.

One of the hallmarks of Sandia/California’s health and wellness programs is its Life Design Center (LDC). The LDC offers exercise classes such as tai chi, yoga, circuit training, and outdoor, mentor-led walking groups. Health/risk assessments and fitness challenges are also a key part of the program. The “Maintain No Gain” program is currently underway, for example, challenging  participants not to gain any weight during the holiday season.

Edwinson says providing better nutrition at the lab has been a recent focus in response to negative feedback about the lack of healthy food choices. The LDC team set about improving choices at the on site grab-and-go deli, vending machines and through catering. The goal, she says, is to stock vending machines with at least 50 percent healthy, balanced choices.

“We’ve developed a program by which we go beyond the basic health/risk assessment,” says Edwinson. “We have protocols in place to follow up and keep people on track.”

In the five years that the LDC has been open, there have been 730 active participants. About 70 people use the LDC each work day, says Edwinson.

While Edwinson is pleased with the achievement, she’s not resting on her laurels. “We want to continue following up on health/risk assessments and improving nutrition on site,” she says. “We’ve seen good results from our follow-ups, but we’ll have a better picture in a couple of years.” The next step, she says, is to link illness, attendance and productivity with participation in LDC programs.

More than 80 employers were honored this year with a California Fit Business Award.

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Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Sandia news media contact: Mike Janes,, (925) 294-2447