Utica, NY (WIBX) - In the face of rising healthcare costs, the American Heart Association is recognizing local businesses implementing Fit-Friendly activities in the work place.

Among the 14 Utica-area companies honored are Faxton Saint Luke's Healthcare, Fiber Instrument Sales and Gilroy, Kernan and Gilroy.

Theresa Swider serves on the board for the American Heart Association. She said the easiest way to help employees become healthy is to get them moving.

"It's small steps," Swider said. "It's helping them make a lifestyle change. You know, giving the employees a chance during their break and encouraging them to go out and do a walk through the building... or a walk around the building. Or, at lunch, having yogurt available or fresh fruit so that they have healthy options in the cafeteria."

Companies can reach a Fit-Friendly status by promoting healthy lifestyle programs, including on-site walking routes, healthy food choices and health risk assessments.

According to the AHA, more than 14,000 local employees are currently working for Fit-Friendly companies in the area.

The AHA also attributes nationwide losses of nearly $226 billion each year to rising healthcare costs and health-related losses in productivity.