BURNS HARBOR | From maintaining a healthy blood pressure to incorporating more exercise into their lives, a group of ArcelorMittal employees pledged Wednesday to lead healthier lives.
More than 30 employees gathered at the ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor Deerfield Woods Fitness Trails to walk the nearly 1-mile trip through a wooded area adjacent to mill operations for the annual National Walking Day event.
"It's not bad for those people who sit at a desk all day long to take 15 minutes and go for a walk," said John Mengel, vice president and general manager at ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor.
Americans work 164 more hours a year than they did two decades ago, with sedentary jobs increasing 83 percent since 1950, according to the American Heart Association, which estimated that health problems cost corporate America nearly $226 billion annually in productivity losses.
New at this year's National Walking Day event was "Take the Pledge," an extra initiative through the American Heart Association encouraging employees to commit to a heart-healthy change.
Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in men and women in the United States.
"I pledged 30 minutes of walking a day," said Larry Fabina, manager of continuous improvement.
Caroline Martin, administrator for the plant manager's office at the plant, committed to being more active by bringing proper equipment to work.
"I pledged this year to leave tennis shoes in my office," she said.
Martin and Fabina were among the employees who walked the hilly, sometimes sandy, path Wednesday.
"It's a beautiful trail," Martin said.
It's even more beautiful when the foliage blooms, turning the wooded area green, she said.
The industrial sounds stay in the distance, if noticeable at all, Fabina said.
"You really forget about being in the mill, other than the occasional clanking of the plates," he said.
Deer, geese, foxes and turkeys inhabit the area.
People who spend the day in the on-site training facility that is steps away often take advantage of the trails, which opened in October 2012, said Jolice Pojeta, manager of communications and corporate responsibility for ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor.
Mengel said the company has made an effort to keep the grounds as natural as possible.
Employees at the East Chicago and New Carlisle campuses of ArcelorMittal also participated in the heart association's National Walking Day event.