Man running promoting wellness

Work: A Place to Change Your Life

Work isn’t just a place to build a career these days. It’s also evolving into the place where individuals become healthier.

Increasingly employers are realizing the value of providing on-site wellness programs to their workforce. You — the employee — are their most valuable asset. As a result, employers are willing to innovate and sometimes reward employees for participation through incentives.

Wellness programs may offer weight loss management, smoking cessation, stress management, nutrition, back care and health coaching to employees. The goal is to create a supportive environment and assist in removing the barriers to improved health.

Ultimately, though, living a healthy lifestyle begins with you. Here are a few tips for helping you work toward healthier living whether at work or at home.

Do Your Homework

Learn how to get the most from workplace wellness programs offering weight loss management, smoking cessation, stress management, nutrition, back care and health coaches.

  • Be on the lookout for community events that offer a chance to participate, while contributing to a good cause. You’ll enjoy the benefits of working toward a goal as part of a team and the fulfillment of social networking.
  • Check with your human resources department for company-sponsored offerings. Wellness programs offered through employers can often help motivate, educate and guide you as you work toward your goals.
  • Ask about programs and tools offered through your benefits carrier.
  • Be a "wellness champion" and walk the walk by sharing your personal successes. This will inspire others to follow your lead.

You're Not Alone

If you’re trying to kick the smoking habit or lose weight, you’re taking a positive step toward tackling two of the most common health challenges today. This dynamic duo can be directly or indirectly linked to a variety of health concerns, including but not limited to: cancer, diabetes, congestive hearth failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke and the list goes on.

In fact, one-third of all deaths in the U.S. are attributable to three behaviors: smoking, physical inactivity and poor eating habits. At least 50% of chronic conditions are related to lifestyle. 1

Tackling the Dynamic Duo:
Smoking and Weight Management

Smoking

It's estimated that smoking kills more than 400,000 U.S. adults each year and accounts for one out of every 5 deaths. 1 Tobacco is a strong physical addiction that's hard to break. To quit, you need to:

  • Determine why you want to stop.
  • Know your tobacco cessation goals.
  • Have a plan.
  • Set a "quit date."
  • Know what to expect.
  • Check to see what programs or therapies your company offers.

Weight Management

Approximately 365,000 U.S. deaths per year can be linked to poor diet and lack of exercise. 1 That's 1,000 a day! When planning to lose weight, consider this:

  • When calories out exceed calories in, you lose weight. Simple but not easy.
  • What are your goals? Are they reasonable and what are the barriers?
  • Have a plan.
  • How will you change your activity level?
  • What nutrition changes will you make?

Little Changes Add Up!

Everyone knows that any kind of change can be difficult; it’s our human nature. Often, an incremental approach increases the odds for success and lasting change. For example, “banking” calories burned through small 10-minute bursts of exercise a few times a day can help you attain the recommended activity levels and maintain your weight.

Simply cutting a few calories at each meal and increasing your current activity can really add up in the big scheme of things. Don’t let the idea of the end goal intimidate you from attempting to reach the finish line. A journey begins with the first step. Remember:

  • Make the situation personal.
  • Identify an action plan with follow through.
  • Use a stepped approach to goal setting with frequent successes to reinforce the positive behaviors.
  • Start out slowly and build gradually. It’s about long-term change.
  • Consult your personal physician before beginning an exercise program.

Good luck and may good health be with you.

About the Author

Jeff Ashmore helps companies build a case for wellness, measure it and ultimately use wellness to create a healthy workplace environment. He has more than 20 years of progressive health promotion industry experience. On the national level, he worked with Ford Motor Company to develop its wellness program, which earned the Rise Award (Recognition, Initiative, Support, Excellence) from the UAW union and Ford. A partial listing of previous clients include: Daimler Chrysler Corporation, General Electric, Procter & Gamble, Patheon and multiple municipalities.

1 (USDHHS, Surgeon General).

Courtesy of Humana