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by Sam Van De Velde

Hospitals across the country face the challenge of their daily impact on the environment. Significant energy and water consumption and single-use products in particular negatively contribute to the ever-growing issue of sustainability.

And while some solutions may be more difficult to find than others (i.e., single-use products are required for hygienic, infection prevention and patient safety reasons), reducing energy use and carbon output is tricky for hospitals, but not impossible.

Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center works toward reducing and offsetting its energy consumption with the help of key pieces of cardio equipment in its Wellness U Department, its employees and the community.

Environmental impacts of electricity and its cost

The mechanisms in place that make electricity work release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into Earth’s atmosphere. The cost of electricity has also been steadily rising year after year. The cost-per-kilowatt-hour (the amount of electrical energy consumed when 1,000 watts are used for one hour) was 12.89 cents in 2017 and increased to 13.12 cents in 2019.

Overall, the amount you pay per kilowatt-hour (¢/kWh) has risen across the nation at a rate of approximately 15 percent over the last 10 years. That rate is not slowing down.

The power of movement with our new sports equipment

HRRMC’s Wellness U Department acquired six pieces of innovative cardio equipment that generate their own electricity, which is sent back into the HRRMC grid. Wellness U added these with the intention to motivate employees and community members to exercise and feel empowered as they directly help reinforce environmental practices.

Therefore, when you’re working out on a piece of HRRMC cardio equipment, you can transform your own exertion into usable electricity, which benefits the planet and provides a new layer of meaning to “breaking a sweat.”

Cardiorespiratory fitness is the gold standard of health and the No. 1 determining factor in mortality rates when considering all causes. Dr. Steve Blair reported in a longitudinal study that the health status of individuals with low cardiorespiratory fitness levels (an inability to walk faster than 3 mph) is worse than smoking, diabetes and obesity combined.

The benefit of sending energy back into the grid is a sustainable concept for the environment, but even better and more sustainable for your heart and overall health.

SportsArt, the company that creates these energy-saving machines, claims that 12 cardio machines each used for one hour a day can produce approximately 19,000 kWh over the course of a year. In comparison, the average U.S. home consumes 10,766 kWh per year*. This means if there are 12 hours of use on HRRMC’s SportsArt elliptical, bike and treadmills every day of the year (with the average cost of 11.12 cents per kilowatt hour), that overall electricity production will reduce electricity costs by approximately $2,212.80.

The Wellness U and Cardiac Rehab departments combined own eight pieces of energy-generating cardio equipment. Participation in Wellness U’s community exercise classes, employee classes, staff gym use and cardiac rehab programs have economic and environmental outcomes in addition to eliminating one of the highest risk factors for all-cause mortality for staff and community: physical inactivity.

Work productivity increases with movement throughout the day

Whether through aerobic exercise on our SportsArt machines or through classes, employees can actually be more productive at work by integrating exercise into their workday.

A study by Bristol University** reported improvements in the following areas when exercise was integrated into employees’ workdays:

• 21 percent increase in concentration.

• 22 percent increase in completion of work on time and meeting deadlines.

• 25 percent increase in working without unscheduled breaks.

• 41 percent increase in motivation to work and significant mood improvements.

Come play a part in helping HRRMC decrease its electrical footprint and become happier, healthier and more productive with the power of movement.

Wellness U offers classes at lunchtime every day starting at 12:30 p.m., with the exception of Thursdays. Evening classes are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays starting at 5 p.m.

The Wellness U Staff Gym opened on Nov. 4, for all employees to join.

*Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration.

**Source: J.C. Coulson, J. McKenna, M. Field. “Exercising at work and self-reported work performance.” International Journal of Workplace Health Management. 2008.

Sam Van De Velde, MS, CES, is a certified cancer exercise specialist with a master’s degree in exercise physiology. He specializes in preventing chronic disease and managing cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and Parkinson’s. He said he is passionate about quality of life and uses exercise as medicine through individualized exercise prescriptions.

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