Landmark turns to genetic testing to engage staff with fitness and nutrition

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In September 2014, Landmark Information Group teamed up with British cyclist Jess Varnish to engage its approximately 400 employees with health and fitness through a week-long cycling challenge, collectively cycling the distance from John O’Groats to Land’s End on exercise bikes.

To coincide with the initiative, Landmark offered staff the chance to participate in a genetically guided wellness programme. Around 70 employees took a DNAFit test, which was made available through a prize draw and further incentive schemes. The test looks at 45 gene variants associated with the body’s response to training and nutrition.

DNAFit came onsite to talk through the test results and provide practical advice on the types of exercise and diet best suited to each individual, as well as tips on how to warm up to reduce risk of injury. These sessions were held on a one-to-one basis or in small groups depending on the preferences of each participant. Educational workshops on genetics, fitness and nutrition were also available for all of Landmark’s staff to attend.

Jacki Norbury, marketing and corporate responsibility champion at Landmark Information Group, says: “Health and wellbeing has always been a focus at Landmark, and as well as encouraging a healthy lifestyle, it’s also about trying to think of ways to engage staff and to help them become more proactive.”

The testing programme and workshops were communicated to staff through an email campaign ahead of the bike week, and the initiative was also discussed by Landmark’s chief executive officer during a monthly soap-box talk. Landmark informed staff what the programme entailed and explained that the process was confidential, with all results correspondence conducted directly between the participant and the provider.

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Six months after the initiative was introduced, a survey of participants found that 80% had a higher awareness of their health and wellbeing. Norbury adds: “Two-thirds of those tested confirmed that they had made changes to their diet and over half had modified their existing exercise regime. The programme was good for educating those that were just starting out with exercise but also for those who had been doing exercise for a long time, by giving them some tips on how to modify it.”

Landmark plans to run another bike challenge in 2016, which will include extending the genetically guided programme to more members of staff.