Executives at both large and small companies are now thinking alike when it comes to their employees’ health and wellness. Even during the recent economic slowdown, corporate fitness and wellness programs survived relatively unscathed. And it is hard to argue with the reasoning.

Numerous studies have shown that, during a three-year period, medical costs and costs associated with employee absenteeism are reduced by $2 to $3 for every $1 spent on workplace fitness and wellness programs. Indeed, the rest of the business world is discovering what those in the fitness industry have known for years: Healthy and fit individuals generally need fewer health care services, log fewer missed work days and are more productive when they are at work. That knowledge has led more businesses to partner with wellness companies.

“We are definitely getting more requests now than ever before,” says Debra Siena, president of Proactive Partners, a Chicago-based company that manages 19 corporate fitness centers and has been offering such services since 1989. “I attribute the increase to three things. First is health care reform. Second, the focus on prevention and how making healthier lifestyle choices are so important. And third, the recession, during which people lost jobs, perhaps lost health benefits, and are now focused on remaining healthy.”

All types of companies are now requesting workplace wellness and fitness services, Siena says.

“We used to get requests primarily from self-insured jumbo-sized companies that were interested primarily in giving benefits and perks to their employees,” she says. “Now we’re seeing companies of all sizes engaging in employee health and wellness as an integral part of doing business. So there’s been a leveling of the playing field in this space—a democratization, if you will.”