Employees at Astellas Pharma Europe Ltd. have given themselves a major summer health boost by walking more than 500 million steps – the equivalent of more than eight times around the equator – as part of the world’s largest corporate health initiative, the Global Corporate Challenge (GCC).

Nearly 650 Astellas employees from across Europe have signed up to take part in the GCC, which runs to September 2011 – a 162% increase on 2010 participant numbers. Two Astellas offices in the UK are taking part. This year’s cohort has already beaten the 323 million steps achieved by Astellas employees in 2010.

The GCC aims to combat health risks linked to the increasingly sedentary nature of the modern workforce. Each participant tries to take 10,000 steps per day which is a proven and recommended way to reduce overall risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes.1

Arjen Vermazen, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Astellas Pharma Europe Ltd said:

“At Astellas, we are committed to becoming the employer of choice in the pharmaceutical industry and a key part of this is helping our employees to make healthy lifestyle choices. Initiatives such as the GCC combine fun, challenge and ease of taking part to create real health benefits – it is great to see so many people taking part.”

GCC Chief Executive Officer, Glenn Riseley said: “We’re delighted to welcome Astellas employees in this year’s GCC. Not only have they demonstrated the level of importance that they attribute to their employee’s health, but they are actively doing something about it.”

The GCC complements other Astellas health and wellbeing employee programmes. In the UK, employees are taking up the Cycle to Work scheme, and will be collecting GCC ‘steps’ when cycling to work over the summer.

In addition to helping its employees improve their health, Astellas is also sponsoring nearly 650 primary school children to take part in the Global Children’s Challenge as a direct result of their participation in the Corporate Challenge. In 2011, the Global Children’s Challenge will help over 125,000 children get more active.