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A Role Model for Workplace Wellness

Photo by David Cornwell

Vern Stockbridge is easily the most active presence at the Food Bank for Larimer County in Fort Collins. As warehouse manager, he directs efforts to sort, organize and pack trucks with more than five million pounds of food for those in need each year.

When the 58-year-old was fitted with a pedometer to count his steps, he discovered that he was taking more than 20,000 steps a day—over 10 miles. Measuring Stockbridge’s daily physical activity was part of the food bank’s commitment to its workers’ health and well-being through the Health District on the Move’s workplace wellness program. The food bank, along with more than 225 companies and 5,000 employees in northern Larimer County, as well as other employers, communities and individuals across the state, worked to improve diet and activity levels under the Colorado Healthy People 2010 initiative.

Stockbridge was a natural model for his co-workers. He knew his overall fitness had improved when he began lifting, stacking and directing the movement of parcels at the food bank’s warehouse 10 years ago. The former real estate salesman and property manager lost 20 pounds after just six months on the job, and his participation in Health District on the Move confirmed his progress.

“It let me know what I was doing,” he said. “It made me aware of how much physical activity I was getting, working in a warehouse.”

Indeed, according to Chuck Gill, the food bank’s assistant director, quantifying results and sharing progress are what got employees moving. The goal for employees was to increase the number of steps they took daily by 10 percent each week to reach 10,000 per day. “Some people saw measurable improvements,” said Gill. “And, as they did more, they felt better.”

Learn about the health equity issues affecting Coloradans at Collective Colorado, a publication of The Colorado Trust.