As the winter arrives, a significant challenge for well-run workplace wellness programs emerges: Engagement. Given that fitness is such a central element for maintain healthy behaviors — including helping prevent or manage chronic disease — helping people maintain exercise routines can become difficult.
Indeed, we previously noted a Gallup report: “As is typical during the winter season, Americans report exercising less. The percentage of adults who reported exercising frequently — for at least 30 minutes three or more days per week — fell to 49.8% in November, from 52.2% in October and from the year’s high of 54.5% in July. Fewer Americans exercised frequently last month than did in November of last year (50.5%).”
“Americans typically exercise more in the spring and summer and less in the fall and winter. Frequent exercise usually drops to its lowest point in December of each year and beings to improve again in January.”
Perhaps this new report will help, as the New York Times explains “How Exercise Can Make for Healthier Fat.”
The piece is based on a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology: “Aerobic exercise elevates markers of angiogenesis and macrophage IL-6 gene expression in the subcutaneous adipose tissue of overweight-to-obese adults.”
According to the NYT: “Exercise, of course, is well known to affect the amount of fat we store, since muscles use fatty acids as fuel. Exercise also is believed to prompt small amounts of white fat to transform into brown fat, a particularly desirable form of fat that burns a lot of calories.”
“But it has not been clear whether exercise directly alters the health of white fat tissue.”
The result: “In almost all of the volunteers, the fat tissue after exercise showed greater amounts of a protein that is known to contribute to the development of more blood vessels.”
The NYT continues: “‘More blood vessels in tissue means greater blood flow,’ says [Jeffrey Horowitz, a professor of movement science at the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology], with augmented delivery of oxygen and nutrients and better overall tissue health.”
So as the desire to exercise gets more challenging, the news that even a little exercise might bring health benefits might also serve as a tool to help engage members in well-run workplace wellness programs.