OVERLAND PARK, KS — Employees strolled through a courtyard at Sprint's world headquarters, visited the booths of more than 40 vendors at the Worksite Oasis Health Fair, and lined up in the corporate fitness center for bone density and cholesterol screenings. With health-care costs for private employers now topping $330 billion a year, the National Association for Health and Fitness encouraged employers nationwide to create a healthier workplace by sponsoring the 16th annual National Employee Health and Fitness Day on May 18.

“While it's a day to celebrate, it's also a day to encourage year-round strategic investment by employers in their human capital,” said Phil Haberstrol, executive director of the National Association for Health and Fitness. “Health promotion programs are not a choice but rather a necessity in order to manage health care costs and increase productivity.”

The association first organized the National Employee Health and Fitness Day back in 1989 as a response to the rising health care costs. Thousands of companies now participate in the day's mission by organizing health fairs and employee walks.

“With the price of health care going up, employers can save money and provide benefits to their employees through a wellness program,” said Leah Tompkins, senior wellness coordinator for Sprint. “At the health fair, employees learned how to get in shape, stop smoking or deal with a chronic condition.”

Megan Mansfield, the corporate fitness director for Sprint, checked employees' blood pressure at a booth outside the gym. She says Sprint has sponsored the health fair since it first opened its corporate fitness facility six years ago.