Companies use wellness games at work - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Companies use wellness games at work


(WKOW) -- Forget Farmville, Angry Birds and Words with Friends, the latest online games are not only fun, but good for your health. More companies are incorporating game-like features into their wellness plans and playing isn't always a choice.

"They might compete in how many fruits and vegetables they eat during a day compared to their co-workers," Virgin Health Miles CEO Chris Boyce says.

For Kurt Augustine, working out is part of the health game. "You're really fighting for bragging rights," he says.

Augustine logs his steps on the he treadmill. Each mile adds up to rewards points at work. Augustine and his co-workers can also earn prizes and perks for eating healthy food, taking vitamins or even getting a flu shot.

"This is not your HR department telling you to eat less and move more. This is a game. It's fun, it's social, it's got employees talking in the break room," National Business Group on Health Vice President Luann Heinen says.

Company HR representatives say it can make a huge difference in participation in wellness plans. But what happens if a worker opts out?

Experts say companies can penalize those who don't participate with higher premiums or deductibles. Though they still have to follow privacy, disability and anti-discrimination laws or they may end up facing penalties of their own.

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