Worksite wellness centers help with weight loss and lower health costs

As employees and employers face higher health care costs, worksite wellness centers becoming increasingly more important to help control the costs of health care and encourage healthy lifestyle behaviors among the workforce, a Mayo Clinic study says. Research published this month in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine shows that members of Mayo Clinic’s employee wellness center, the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center (DAHLC), who regularly participated in wellness activities, experienced significant weight loss and health care costs savings.

 

“A well-planned comprehensive wellness center can engage and retain members, which can ultimately lead to important savings in health care costs and reductions in BMI,” says lead researcher Bijan Borah, Ph.D.

 

For the study, the researchers used data from 3,199 members who were continuously enrolled in the DAHLC for three years and their attendance was categorized by number of visits to the fitness center.

 

Important results from the study include:

 

Compared to members who visited the DAHLC 1–60 times in the three-year period, members with 181–360 visits were 46 percent more likely to have weight loss, while the individuals with the most visits (more than 360) were 72 percent more likely to have weight loss.

 

Compared with the mean annual health care cost of $13,267 for 1–60 visits, the mean for subjects with 61–180 visits, 181–360 visits, and more than 360 visits had significantly lower costs at $9,538, $9,332 and $8,293, respectively. “The significant association between health care costs and the frequency of wellness center visits, implying an average cost difference of $4,974 between the top and bottom quartiles of the DAHLC users, is too strong to ignore,” says Dr. Borah. “While the use of DAHLC is unlikely the only mediator of either weight control or health care costs, workplaces that are able to offer comprehensive wellness facilities may be capable of achieving similar gains irrespective of individuals’ activity pursuits at the facility.”

 

HealthEase offers this takeaway: More companies should offer onsite fitness centers to improve employee wellness and lower health care costs. Employees who have access to an onsite fitness center should use it regularly – several times a week – to get the most health and fitness benefits!

Armand Tecco

Armand Tecco

As president and founder of HealthEase, Armand is dedicated to his corporate clients and helping them achieve their goals for employee wellness. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Fitness Management from West Chester University and a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology from Temple University. Armand is also certified through the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Strength & Conditioning Association.

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Refuel for a Better Work Life

What is the definition of a great place to work? Tony Schwartz says it begins with a work environment that enables and encourages all employees to regularly refuel and renew themselves, both on and off the job – that is what makes them capable of bringing the best of themselves to work.

 

Tony Schwartz is the CEO and founder of The Energy Project and bestselling author of The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working. A frequent keynote speaker, Tony has also trained and coached CEOs and senior leaders at organizations including Apple, Google, the LAPD, and the Cleveland Clinic. Here are more of Tony’s thoughts…

 

Energy is our most precious resource. In physics, it’s defined starkly as “the capacity to do work.” Higher demand in the absence of sufficient rest and renewal means less energy. Less energy means less capacity.

 

The simplest measure of a great place to work is how it makes employees feel to work there day in and day out. That requires meeting the four core needs of their employees: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

 

Physical energy, the foundation of all other dimensions of energy, is comprised of sleep, fitness, nutrition, and intermittent daytime rest and renewal. Along this line, Tony advises companies to:

 

1. Create places for employees to rest and renew during the course of the working day and encourage them to take intermittent breaks. Ideally, bosses should permit afternoon naps, which fuel higher productivity in the hours that follow.

 

2. Offer a well-equipped fitness center that encourages employees to move physically and stay fit. There should be incentives for employees to use the facilities, including during the workday as a source of renewal.

 

3. Provide healthy, high quality food, at the lowest possible prices, including in vending machines.

 

Is there any question that if people feel healthier, happier, more focused and more purposeful at work, they will perform better?

Armand Tecco

Armand Tecco

As president and founder of HealthEase, Armand is dedicated to his corporate clients and helping them achieve their goals for employee wellness. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Fitness Management from West Chester University and a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology from Temple University. Armand is also certified through the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Strength & Conditioning Association.

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10 Ways to Protect Your Joints

Protect Your Joints

 

Have your knees started to ache? Does your hip hurt when you walk? Are you rubbing your back at night? Your joints are critical to your mobility, whether you are sitting, standing, or actively moving. Follow these tips to protect your joints and help prevent osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis.

 

Avoid carrying extra body weight. The higher your weight, the more stress you are putting on your joints, especially your hips, knees, back and feet. Reach and maintain your ideal weight.

 

Move your body. Exercise protects joints by strengthening the muscles around them. Strong muscles keep your joints from rubbing against one another, wearing down cartilage. The key is to get daily physical exertion, doing a variety of activities such as range-of-motion exercises, aerobic exercise, and strengthening exercises.

 

Correct your posture. Be aware of how you are sitting and standing. Are you slouching or straining your head forward? Good posture with proper alignment protects the joints in your neck, back, hips, and knees. Be aware of

 

Lift and carry with care. When lifting or carrying, use the largest and strongest joints and muscles so as to avoid injury. For instance, when lifting, bend from the knees to rely on the strong thigh muscles rather than bending from the hips and straining your back.

 

Listen to your body. If you are in pain, don’t ignore it. Pain after activity or exercise may be a sign that you have overstressed your joints. Apply ice and get rest.

 

Remember rest periods. Give yourself short breaks during extended periods of strenuous labor. Repetitive stress on joints for long periods of time can accelerate the wear and tear that causes osteoarthritis.

 

Don’t stay in one position for too long. It can be taxing to sit or stand for hours a day, five days a week. Changing positions regularly will decrease the stiffness in your muscles and joints. Try to fit in one-minute breaks to do simple stretches and exercises at your workstation.

 

Start slow. Don’t expect to be able to run a mile if you haven’t run in ages. Start new activities slowly and safely until you know how your body will react to them. This will reduce the chance of injury.

 

Ask for help. Need to move a large piece of furniture or heavy box? It can be tempting to try to get it done yourself but it would be safer to get someone to help you with the task.

Eric Mamon

Eric Mamon

Eric Mamon, cPT, CSN, has been Regional Director of HealthEase since 2008. He is a nationally certified Personal Trainer and a certified Sports Nutritionist as well as an Alliance Member with the American College of Sports Medicine. Eric is also an accomplished martial artist and bodybuilder as well as a regular participant in marathons and charity runs.

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10 Ways to Weight Train More Wisely

Weight training is important for muscular strength and endurance as well as bone health. When I am supervising the floor of a fitness center, I stay alert for people who may be following improper form or need a helpful reminder. Make sure your routine is done right so you get the results you want!

 

1.     Warm Up

 

Warming up improves blood flow to tissues, which helps with muscle performance and flexibility. You can do gentle stretching, light cardio, or light lifting before heavier lifting.

 

2.     Use Good Form

 

When you lift weights or use weight training machines, you need to know correct form in order to lift safely, and to achieve the best results. Ask a fitness professional before you begin an exercise program with weights. An important general rule: lift weights in a slow and controlled manner; never fast and jerky.

 

3.     Keep Your Back Straight

 

Good lifting form includes keeping the back straight and not curved when lifting or squatting. If you can’t maintain a straight back, you are probably lifting too heavy weights.

 

4.     Check the Weight of Your Weights

 

Start with light weights and progressively move to heavier weights and more challenging exercises. Don’t lift too light for too long, and don’t lift too heavy too early. Ask a trainer for advice if you’re not sure how to do this.

 

5.     Use a Spotter When Lifting Heavy Weights

 

A “spotter” is a person who helps when you train with heavy weights. He or she is there to grab the weight if you are unable to lift it and are at risk of dropping it. Safety is crucial!

 

6.     Never Train the Same Muscles Two Days in a Row

 

Weight training should be performed on alternate days, such as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to give your muscles a chance to recover and build. If you want to weight train on back-to-back days, focus on different muscle groups, such as chest, back and arms on Monday, legs and abs on Tuesday.

 

7.     Don’t Train if You Are Sick

 

You don’t want to risk spreading your germs at the gym. And if you need rest, you don’t want to overexert yourself by weight training. Wait until you are well.

 

8.     Be Courteous to Other Exercisers

 

Don’t hog the machines or workstations if people are waiting. Put things back where they belong. Wipe down the machines after using and have a towel handy to stay dry.

 

9.     Cool Down

 

At the end of your exercise routine, cool down to lower your heart rate slowly to its normal level. The best way is to engage in some light cardio exercise or do a series of easy stretching exercises for 10 to 15 minutes. Performing stretches at the end of your routine is optimal for increased flexibility and a reduced risk of injury.  

Eric Mamon

Eric Mamon

Eric Mamon, cPT, CSN, has been Regional Director of HealthEase since 2008. He is a nationally certified Personal Trainer and a certified Sports Nutritionist as well as an Alliance Member with the American College of Sports Medicine. Eric is also an accomplished martial artist and bodybuilder as well as a regular participant in marathons and charity runs.

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