FORT LEWIS, WA -- About 140 civilian employees at the Sheridan Sports and Fitness Center for Installation Management Command at Fort Lewis, WA, graduated in April from a six-month fitness program hosted by the Army.

To promote more productive employees, participants in the program were allowed to work out for three hours per week during duty hours and were offered the services of a personal trainer. In addition, program organizers monitored their blood pressure, cardio fitness, body fat and flexibility.

Most participants showed improvement in some, if not all, evaluated areas, says Cindy Branton, the Fort Lewis health promotion officer.

"Statistics say if they're exercising, employees are more productive," Branton says. "There is 'presenteeism' when you're present at work but you're not actually doing anything. Statistics show that when they're exercising, they feel better, they're healthier and they're more productive the hours they are at work. And stress levels decrease."

A second group of employees began the program and took benchmark evaluation tests as the first group completed them and graduated from the program.