Top Wellness Works Hub Posts: Best of 2016

As we continue to look ahead at wellness trends for 2017, we wanted to take a look back at some of the last year’s top posts. The posts represent a sampling of the top issues — opportunities and challenges — we covered in workplace wellness:

1) STUDY REVEALS EFFECTS OF WORKPLACE WELLNESS ON MENTAL HEALTH:  Could what you do for a living increase or decrease whether you’re “likely to be depressed?” And if so, could workplace wellness programs have any effect on employee mental health?

According to recent reports, the answer to both questions may be yes.

2) TIME TO EAT? HOW PUNCTUAL DINING AFFECTS YOUR HEALTH: It’s a busy workday. In fact, every day is a busy workday. Sometimes you eat lunch on time. Sometimes you don’t. Occasionally you don’t eat at all. Same for breakfast. And dinner. Your meal schedule is a mess.

Is that a problem?

3) STUDY: POTENTIAL HEALTH BENEFITS OF STANDING AT WORK: With more and more research linking a sedentary lifestyle to mortality and chronic diseases, faculty and students at Jacksonville University are conducting a study aimed at showing the impacts of standing on student health. The Florida Times Union reports that Jacksonville University will use “standing desks,” to help reduce the eight to nine hours that a college student spends sitting during the day (for information about how sedentary the typical American is each day, take a look at these infographics).

4) HEALTHY TIPS FROM A REGISTERED DIETITIAN: WHAT TO PACK FOR LUNCH: Planning ahead for lunch not only can “keep your weight in check,” but also “can be beneficial to your wallet,” reports Chicago’s Fox 32. So how do you know what’s healthy to eat? How should you plan ahead?

Interactive Health Registered Dietitian Kerry Clifford offers health tips on Good Day, Chicago.

5) COST OF PHYSICAL INACTIVITY: DISCUSSION: What’s the cost of physical inactivity? That’s one of the topics addressed in a recent episode of PodMed, a weekly podcast from Johns Hopkins Medicine. In the piece, Elizabeth Tracey, director of electronic media for Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Rick Lange, MD, president of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso, discuss topics that are directly relevant to — and often included in — well-run workplace wellness programs.

6) NO TIME FOR EXERCISE? THINK AGAIN. The New York Times recently “resurfaced” its piece on the “Scientific 7-Minute Workout,” in order to “prove that you always have time to work out.” We thought we’d do the same.

The piece is based on an article in the May-June issue of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal: “In 12 exercises deploying only body weight, a chair and a wall, it fulfills the latest mandates for high-intensity effort, which essentially combines a long run and a visit to the weight room into about seven minutes of steady discomfort — all of it based on science.”

7) ONE ANTIDOTE TO SITTING TOO MUCH AT WORK: STAND. We have reported frequently on the importance of moving — not sitting — regularly at work (for example herehere, and here).

Of course, in some work environments, finding the time or space to move can be difficult (though, of course, we all can take stairs instead of elevators, hold walking meetings, etc.). A new study highlights the benefits of a simple antidote to sitting: Stand.

8) DO WELLNESS PROGRAMS PROTECT – OR TAKE ADVANTAGE – OF YOUR DATA? This post from Cathy Kenworthy, Interactive Health CEO, was originally published in LinkedIn here. Please visit the original piece to leave any comment.

A series of stories in the media over the past few days, triggered by the Wall Street Journal, have raised alarms about how employers and third parties might use data associated with worksite wellness and health management programs.  While none of these stories relates directly to our work at Interactive Health, they can be scary.  We should set the record straight:  wellness programs work wonders to combat the national epidemic associated with heart disease, diabetes, obesity and many other health risks – but only if they are done well.  And, “done well” in my view means that the privacy of participants is scrupulously protected.

9) PODCAST: HOW BUSINESS, INSURANCE & DOCTORS CAN TACKLE COST, IMPROVE HEALTH SIMULTANEOUSLY. It goes without saying that, from wellness programs to health plan design and beyond, nearly every U.S. company seeks new, effective ways to attack rising health care costs while also helping drive improved employee health. And to find ways to do both simultaneously? Any business would say: Tell me more.

OK, here’s more. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – the CDC – is partnering with businesses, health insurance plans and doctors to help tackle costs and improve health. One program: The 6/18 Initiative. This effort helps businesses targeting six common and costly health conditions and offers 18 proven specific interventions that formed the starting point of discussions with purchasers, payers, and providers.

10) WHITE-COLLAR EMPLOYEES ACCEPT WALKING MEETINGS: STUDY. One key goal of any effective workplace wellness program is to help employees avoid sitting too long at the office. One tactic to accomplish that, of course, is a walking meeting. But will office workers accept a walking meeting?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published a study looking into the question, titled “Opportunities for Increased Physical Activity in the Workplace: the Walking Meeting (WaM) Pilot Study, Miami, 2015.” As the study states: “Despite the positive impact walking has on human health, few opportunities exist for workers with largely sedentary jobs to increase physical activity while at work. The objective of this pilot study was to examine the implementation, feasibility, and acceptability of using a Walking Meeting (WaM) protocol to increase the level of work-related physical activity among a group of sedentary white-collar workers.”