Ball State: New Clinical Trials Examine How Exercise Helps Us Down to Our Molecules

Todd Trappe (left) and Scott Trappe (right) work on a research project at Ball State’s Human Performance Laboratory.

Ball State University will partner with two other major research institutions as part of a national project to uncover how exercise changes the body on a molecular level, which could lead to people engaging in more targeted and optimized activities.

Ball State’s Human Performance Laboratory (HPL) will form one clinical trial site with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Center for Exercise Medicine and the Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes in Orlando, Florida. Their work is part of the Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity in Humans program (MoTrPac), which will be financed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Common Fund.

The three partners will share a projected $6.6 million over six years, 2017-23, as part of a $170 million NIH investment for the largest, most complex and highly coordinated human exercise physiology training study in the field’s history.

“The NIH initiative is a moonshot opportunity for the exercise community, and the Human Performance Laboratory is honored to be part of the team,” said Scott Trappe, the John and Janice Fisher Endowed Chair of Exercise Science and director of the Human Performance Laboratory in Ball State’s newly formed College of Health. “This is a new frontier that will move the field forward to better understand the health benefits of exercise.”

Under the $170 million project, 19 grants will support researchers working around the country, including seven clinical trial sites and several analytical sites to collect samples from people of different races, ethnic groups, sex, ages and fitness levels.

“We have long understood that exercising is beneficial to our overall health; however, we still do not understand why,” NIH director Francis S. Collins said in a statement. “The development of a so-called molecular map of circulating signals produced by physical activity will allow us to discover, at a fundamental level, how physical activity affects our health.

Under the national research initiative, researchers will partner to develop plans to recruit people for clinical trials, identify how to analyze tissue samples and select animal models to best replicate human studies.

Investigators across the country will recruit a total of about 3,000 healthy men and women of different fitness levels, ages, races and ethnicities. Each clinical site will enroll and study 450 to 500 participants. Researchers will collect blood, urine and tissue samples from the volunteers, who will perform resistance or aerobic exercises as part of the national study.

During the first year, clinical site teams will finalize plans and responsibilities. Trappe said HPL will quickly ramp up operations, including adding more researchers and post-doctoral students, to begin work in 2017. He will be a co-director of the test site; Todd Trappe, a Ball State exercise science professor, will be a co-principal investigator for the site.

Toby Chambers, a first-year doctoral student in Ball State’s human bioenergetics program, believes the NIH project underscores the national reputations Ball State and HPL have developed.

“As a doctoral student in the Human Performance Laboratory, I am really excited about the learning opportunities that will result from the research team’s involvement,” he said. “The unique opportunities this presents to the research team are why individuals, like myself, continue to be attracted to the HPL at Ball State.”

Indiana Chamber, Ball State Announce Healthy, Wealthy and Wise Index for Hoosier Communities

An old proverb, first printed in 1639, says: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” In today’s state and national economies, the assertion is that the healthier the residents are, the wealthier and wiser they and the broader community will also be.

The Ball State University Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) created the Healthy, Wealthy, Wise Index for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, its Foundation and the Wellness Council of Indiana to emphasize the critical importance of the health factor. The Index will serve as a valuable measuring tool for the Wellness Council’s Indiana Healthy Community initiative.

The Wellness Council of Indiana is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Indiana Chamber.

“Health is a key success factor to learning and wealth,” says Wellness Council of Indiana Executive Director Chuck Gillespie. “Community leaders and business decision makers need to understand why ‘healthy’ must be a big priority in order to ensure the vitality of their communities and workplaces.”

Thirty indicators – 15 health, six wealth and nine wise – were selected to establish the three indices. Results among all 92 counties and, separately, the 50 states are divided into quartiles, with those in the fourth quartile having the strongest performance.

“Our research also found there are major policy implications,” states Michael Hicks, the George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Economics in the Miller College of Business and director of CBER. “There is a huge disparity in health and health care costs associated with preventable diseases in Indiana, especially across rural and urban settings. With this information, local governments can partner with businesses and non-profits to figure out how wellness can be more effectively spread throughout our communities.”

The Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 (www.indianachamber.com/2025) economic development action plan for the state includes four drivers, with three health-related goals under the Attractive Business Climate section (along with the direct correlation of the Wise index to the plan’s goals under Outstanding Talent). While the state has fared well in tax, regulatory and other areas in enhancing its business climate, the unhealthy state of the population is a costly and dangerous outlier.

The Indiana Chamber and allies have formed the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana to tackle health care challenges, with an initial legislative focus on reducing smoking. Nearly one-quarter of the adult population in Indiana smokes at an annual cost of $6 billion in additional health care expenditures and lost productivity.

“The Wellness Council has focused on creating and maintaining well workplaces throughout its history,” Gillespie shares. “The Indiana Healthy Community initiative is an important step to embracing and working toward community-wide health improvements. Healthy citizens are essential to Hoosiers being prepared to learn and work at their highest capabilities. Leaders are encouraged to use these findings in assessing the current status of their communities.”

Srikant Devaraj, CBER research assistant professor, adds, “This research found that there is a strong correlation between the built environment – the man-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity – and the places where people are moving, implying that households put more value on the recreational amenities. Infrastructure related to traditional wellness activities, such as trails, playgrounds, parks and open green space matters more than ever in where people and subsequently businesses relocate.”

Counties that score highly in all three indices include Bartholomew, Dearborn, Dubois, Kosciusko and those surrounding Indianapolis. As suggested by earlier research, rural areas do not fare as well as urban settings. There are examples of high and low performers in close proximity to each other. Nationally, success is varied with Indiana having a below median health index and above median wealthy and wise results.

The Healthy, Wealthy, Wise Index is available at www.wellnessindiana.org, www.readyindiana.org and www.bsu.edu/cber/publications. The Ball State site includes full index scores for each county and state.

To be considered an Indiana Healthy Community, communities must apply to the Wellness Council of Indiana and meet eight key components, including working with various community leaders, getting citizens involved, analyzing political atmospheres and ensuring environments are best for making healthy choices. Part of the requirements include having a certain number of businesses certified as AchieveWELL companies, a Wellness Council designation for individual organizations

Locations interested in becoming Indiana Healthy Communities can visit the Wellness Council web site for more information and to apply.

Hancock, Delaware Counties Honored by Wellness Council as Healthy Communities

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The Wellness Council of Indiana (WCI) recently honored two Indiana communities as Indiana Healthy Community Initiative designees. The designations are the first for the WCI program, which began earlier this year.

Hancock County and Muncie-Delaware County were awarded the title at the 2016 Indiana Health and Wellness Summit September 21-22 in downtown Indianapolis. The annual summit is the largest gathering of wellness professionals in Indiana, and was presented in partnership with the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Wellness Council of Indiana, the Indiana State Department of Health, INShape Indiana and the American Diabetes Association.

To be considered an Indiana Healthy Community, communities must apply to the WCI and meet eight key components, including working with various community leaders, getting citizens involved, analyzing political atmospheres and ensuring environments are best for making healthy choices. Part of the requirements include having a certain number of businesses certified as AchieveWELL companies, a WCI designation for individual organizations (see AchieveWELL information and list below).

Additionally, community leaders identify short-term and long-term strategies to ensure a healthy community for all citizens. WCI representatives assist communities in providing best practices for achieving community goals.

“The premise of the Indiana Healthy Community Initiative is to drive economic growth and development for communities, so that when companies want to relocate or start in Indiana, they’re looking at communities where health is a priority,” WCI Executive Director Chuck Gillespie says.

“And in these areas – like in Delaware and Hancock counties – what companies will find are healthier employees and families, lower insurance costs and a productive workforce.”

Six other counties – Putnam, Howard, Dubois, Kosciusko, Monroe and Hendricks – are all in various stages of involvement with the Indiana Healthy Community Initiative.

Locations interested in becoming Indiana Healthy Communities can visit the WCI web site (Healthy Communities tab) for more information and to apply.

The Wellness Council of Indiana is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

It’s Time to Redefine Wellness

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The Wellness Council of Indiana’s Chuck Gillespie recently had a column featured in the new U.S. Chamber Foundation report, “Healthy Returns: The Value of Investing in Community Health.”

A simple Internet search can show why the wellness industry is at a crossroads. In today’s market, the definition of “wellness” is based more on which classification best fits a person’s specific need, want, or ability, or a vendor’s specific product or service. Wellness is sometimes tied to chronic disease management, fitness, nutrition, weight loss, clinical health services, tobacco use, and behavioral therapy just to name a few. However, workplaces and communities that use an economics-based approach to wellness have proven to be the most successful at creating a culture of health and well-being. Read more in the report on page 16.

 

Starting a Movement: Healthy Businesses Fuel Healthy Communities

Healthy Businesses Fuel Healthy Communities logo

Building on the successful Health Means Business event earlier this year is an upcoming program supported by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Wellness Council of Indiana.

Healthy Businesses Fuel Healthy Communities is the focus on July 13 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) as the Indiana business and philanthropic sectors come together to explore how corporate engagement in community service can improve health for employees and all Hoosiers.

Take this opportunity to connect, learn from and collaborate with like-minded organizations and discuss ways you can work together to address health needs in your community.

Additional objectives include the following:

  • Learn about Indiana’s critical health needs and the social and economic factors contributing to them
  • Understand how corporate community service and wellness programs benefit both companies and communities
  • Understand how to leverage your internal resources to support wellness inside and outside your organization

Who should attend?

  • Business owners and leaders
  • Executives and program officers at corporate foundation
  • Individuals involved with corporate giving, cause marketing and corporate social responsibility programs (program managers, execs, marketing, sales or HR)
  • Individuals involved with corporate wellness initiatives (program managers, executives, marketing, sales or HR)

Learn more and register online. Contact Marie Beason at the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance at mbeason(at)inphilanthropy(dot)org or (317) 630-5200, ext. 115 with questions.

Health Means Business for Indiana’s Economy

tom hironsThe improvement in Indiana’s economic environment is an outstanding success story. The series of top 10 business climate rankings from respected national sources is a tribute to the work of many throughout our state.

The same broad-based, dedicated effort is required in one very important area in which the state is not faring well in national comparisons. And if we don’t finally make some significant advances, those sought-after employers and their talented employees might not find Indiana to be such a great place to work and live.

The inferior health of our workforce – and overall population – is no secret. In the 2015 Report Card measuring progress on the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan, two rankings stood out in a negative manner: 39th in adult smoking rate (despite a four percentage point improvement from the prior measurement) and 42nd in adult obesity.

In the most recent America’s Health Rankings from the United Health Foundation, Indiana’s behaviors (physical activity in addition to smoking and obesity) and outcomes (diabetes, cardiovascular deaths and cancer deaths) fare no better.

Health Means Business. That is a statement and the title of an upcoming event intended to promote business-led community health initiatives. As the Wellness Council of Indiana has been advocating, a healthier Indiana is vital in recruiting and retaining employees, reducing health care costs, limiting absenteeism and increasing productivity.

Details are coming soon on a new Indiana Healthy Community Initiative – modeled after the Wellness Council’s AchieveWELL process for employers – that will allow towns/cities/counties to lead collaborative efforts to improve the health of their citizens.

Indiana is one of 10 stops on a national Health Means Business tour. The Indiana Chamber Foundation is partnering with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for the February 5 event. We see this as just one of many steps to putting Indiana on a healthier road and keeping our state among the nation’s business leaders.

Tom Hirons, president and CEO of Hirons, is the 2016 Indiana Chamber of Commerce chairman of the board.

Workers Crave More than Currency

domination concepts with apples

Losing weight isn’t always fun. Dropping the pounds is rewarding, but the journey can be tough. Very tough.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get paid for your efforts? It turns out that doesn’t always entice employees, according to a new study.

Here’s a taste:

The study, published in January’s issue of the journal Health Affairs, reported the results of a yearlong randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of financial incentives to encourage weight loss among 197 obese employees of the University of Pennsylvania health system.

Participants were asked to lose 5% of their weight. Each was assigned to one of four study groups. The control group wasn’t offered any financial rewards. The three other groups were offered an incentive valued at $550.

People in one group were told they would begin receiving health insurance premium discounts biweekly immediately after reaching their weight loss goal. In another group, the people were told they would receive biweekly premium adjustments the following year if they reached their goal. Volunteers in the final group were eligible for a daily lottery payment if they met their daily weight loss goal and weighed in the previous day.

At year’s end, no group had met the 5% weight loss target. Participants’ average weight was virtually unchanged, whether or not they had a financial incentive to lose pounds. Nineteen percent of participants did meet the 5% target, but they weren’t concentrated in any particular group.

Elements Financial: Maximizing Its Chamber Investment Through Wellness

Shickel_ToddWhen people want to be healthy, they usually consider a balanced diet and regular exercise. Too often, though, they do not think of how their personal finances are part of their health.

Todd Shickel, assistant vice president of business development at Elements Financial (a Chamber member since 1999 with 150 employees), believes companies should take a more holistic approach to wellness. Elements Financial’s partnership with the Wellness Council of Indiana (WCI) has allowed it to reach a new audience as an expert in the field of financial wellness.

“We found that sometimes employers have been hesitant in supporting their employees’ financial wellness,” Shickel explains. “We have been able to demonstrate to them the effect it has on their (employees’) performance at work. The stressors connected to that can impact physical health, which affects productivity and performance.”

Elements Financial is a credit union which works with businesses to help employees plan and manage their personal finances. The company is a premiere sponsor of the WCI and Shickel is a member of its board of advisors.

Shickel worked with Chuck Gillespie, executive director of the WCI, to learn about the five components of well-being: physical, financial, community, social and personal wellness. These components guided a company wellness program at Elements Financial that has improved the workplace. Elements Financial has been named as one of Indiana’s Best Places to Work for six years running.

“If you look at the five components of well-being, our company definitely has something in place for each of those and we can talk to other employers about it,” Shickel says. “We are practicing what we preach, and it gives us credibility.”

Shickel’s workplace also incentivizes wellness for its employees by giving “wellness points” that may add up to a gift or a reimbursement to employees’ health savings accounts. He says employees have really incorporated wellness into the office culture.

“Wellness doesn’t have to be this huge mountain that is impossible to climb,” Shickel assures. “If you reach out to the Wellness Council, you are going to find there are a lot of resources out there and ways to keep the costs down.”

Maple Leaf Farms: Maximizing Chamber Investment Through Wellness

Christy_BobWhen Maple Leaf Farms’ facility took over the space occupied by an old elementary school in the small town of Leesburg, the building was nearly entirely gutted and changed, but one room remained the same: the gymnasium.

With the on-site gym and fitness center already in place and remodeled, Bob Christy, benefits manager, began to set forth a competitive wellness plan with a little help from the Indiana Chamber.

Chuck Gillespie, executive director of the Wellness Council of Indiana, provided a wellness consultation to Maple Lead Farms to help the company determine how to move forward with its wellness program and answered questions from employees.

“I would highly recommend the consultation,” Christy asserts. “I think it should be a requirement. You need to do it once a year and have somebody (from the Council) talk to your whole group.”

For the past year and a half, Christy says Maple Leaf Farms has done “everything from poker walks to health challenges to biometric screenings.” The business’ efforts have earned it a Three-Star AchieveWELL certification from the Wellness Council of Indiana.

“When I started, (it took about the first year) to get most of the health programs set up,” Christy says. “Before that, the wellness program was kind of nonexistent. I spoke at the first annual meeting on portions … and that’s when I really got started.”

A wellness program that once was “nonexistent” now even has its own jackets – emblazoned with the words “Wellness Protection Program” and a picture of a duck, a very important symbol for the company.

Maple Leaf Farms is a family-owned business that raises and processes ducks; today it boasts 17 locations. The wellness plan now extends to all employees, regardless of their whereabouts, and each year, Christy spends two weeks on the road encouraging employees to complete biometric screenings and the Anthem health assessment.

Because Maple Leaf Farms leads the nation in the duck market, it often works with a lot of celebrity chefs and cooking initiatives. With its large kitchen and focus on healthy eating, Christy saw an opportunity to promote healthy eating through lunch-and-learns or quick dinners, meal prep demonstrations, vending machines with nutritious options and the upcoming fresh fruits on Fridays.

“We’re trying to do ‘Fruitful Friday,’” Christy explains. “We eat so much food here because there are always things going on in the kitchen.”

The wellness program continues to grow, with presentations from nutritionists and dieticians, new partnerships with the Warsaw YMCA and the potential of on-site chair massages. Maple Leaf Farm’s partnership with the Chamber and its attendance at Chamber conferences has improved its offerings for employees.

“The biggest thing with this (Chamber) membership is the resources that they have,” Christy says. “It’s some of the best you can get. It’s in Indiana, and it’s about Indiana. These people all work here just like us, and we deal with the same laws, the same tax codes, the same everything. It is about Indiana.

Wellness Council of Indiana Recognizes 35 AchieveWELL Companies

Wellness-Indiana-LogoThe Wellness Council of Indiana recently announced that 35 Hoosier organizations across the state have qualified for new AchieveWELL certification.

Groups working toward creating a corporate culture that encourages and supports employee health through worksite wellness programs are eligible for the designation. AchieveWELL provides an independent assessment of wellness processes and is divided into three levels: Three Star, Four Star and Five Star. The standards are progressive through the Five-Star Award.

New Three-Star recipients:
• Bona Vista Programs, Inc. – Kokomo
• CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions – Indianapolis
• Gregory & Appel Insurance – Indianapolis
• Hamilton County – Noblesville
• The Indiana Rail Road Company – Indianapolis
• Indiana University – Bloomington
• Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation
• Katz, Sapper & Miller CPAs – Indianapolis
• Lenex Steel Corporation – Indianapolis
• LHD Benefit Advisors – Indianapolis
• Monarch Beverage – Indianapolis
• Muncie Delaware Co. Chamber of Commerce and Horizon Convention Center
• Muncie Indiana Transit System
• MutualBank – Muncie
• Open Door Health Services – Muncie
• Riverview Health – Noblesville
• Shindigz – South Whitley
• Simon Property Group – Indianapolis
• State of Indiana – Indianapolis
• Taghleef Industries, Inc. – Terre Haute
• Walgreens Pharmacies – Carmel

New Four-Star recipients:
• Apex Benefits Group, Inc. – Indianapolis
• City of South Bend – South Bend
• Covance Central Laboratory Services, Inc. – Indianapolis
• Hancock Regional Hospital – Greenfield
• IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital – Muncie
• Margaret Mary Health – Batesville
• Mulzer Crushed Stone, Inc. – Tell City
• The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis – Indianapolis
• Walker Information, Inc. – Indianapolis

New Five-Star recipients:
• Ball State University – Muncie
• Citizens Energy Group – Indianapolis
• Ontario Systems – Muncie
• Vectren Corporation – Evansville
• Youth Opportunity Center – Muncie

Without dictating how worksite wellness programs are conducted, the AchieveWELL process offers a clear understanding of the necessary components of successful worksite wellness and recognizes excellence in the field of health promotion. Helpful tools, templates and personal coaching are offered to those aspiring to become AchieveWELL organizations.

The AchieveWELL program is free to members of the Wellness Council of Indiana. For information on joining the Wellness Council, visit www.wellnessindiana.org or call (317) 264-2168.

The Wellness Council of Indiana is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.