Community Voices

Chattanooga: A New Standard of Wellness

"Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity."   - John F. Kennedy

Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law in 2010, wellness has increasingly become a focal point in the employee health conversation across the United States. With healthcare costs still growing, it is easy to see why wellness (with its emphasis on prevention) has become such a talking point. But are job hungry communities ready? 

As employers are increasingly emphasizing wellness within their organizations, the health-readiness of the available local workforce could play an even bigger role in evaluating the overall job-readiness of a

community – Chattanooga certainly not being an exception. Community biomarker trends could very well prove to be a reliable predictor for future regional economic growth.

According to The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index that measures well-being across the US, Tennessee was ranked 44th out of the states in 2013. With large, efficiency-centric enterprises like VW and Amazon looking to expand or relocate operations, Chattanooga has the opportunity to be that shining “city on a hill” for wellness in a state struggling to write its own chapter in the national health and wellness comeback story.

Chattanooga serves as a perfect incubator for wellness innovation with its entrepreneurial legacy (e.g. Coca-Cola Bottling, McKee Foods, etc.) and large footprint of health care organizations per square mile. Our fine city has more gyms than Starbucks along with some of the best outdoor resources nationally. However, we can have all of these great resources and subject matter experts and still not move the needle health-wise in our city. The key is you. Have you made that choice yet? Are you committed to you?

Health is an individual choice with social consequences. In other words, your choices affect those  around you (especially those you care for the most). As the old adage goes, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” If we are truly serious about insuring our city’s economic future, we must become that change we want to see. But first, we must all agree that Tennessee is better than 44 and Chattanooga can show the way. We can either model success or failure. The nation is watching and our time is now.


“Our fine city has more gyms than Starbucks along with some of the best outdoor resources nationally. However, we can have all of these great resources and subject matter experts and still not move the needle health-wise in our city.”