Fast-tracking Wellness Programs

An emphasis on wellness remains a hot healthcare trend for businesses. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently noted several themes to watch this year, including fast-tracking wellness programs to create a healthier workforce for cost savings in future years.

That’s no surprise to global human resources firm Aon Hewitt, which found in another study that mitigating three of eight high-risk factors—smoking, lack of health screening, inactivity, poor stress management, insufficient sleep, poor standard of care, excessive alcohol consumption and poor diet—can save employers as much as $700 per employee.

Businesses looking to tailor fitness activities to current popular interests may look at the following:

• No-Frills Fitness Activities. ACE found that body-weight training and boot camp workouts are a welcome challenge because they are time-efficient, require little space and have proven results. Yoga is also experiencing resurgence as the public further explores the mind/body connection and the importance of stress management.

• High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Workouts. The intense bursts of activity followed by fixed periods of less-intense activity are a great option for time-pressured individuals. By being flexible with your work hours, employees can fit in their HIIT sessions before work, after work or during break times.

• Small Group Training. More certified fitness professionals are being hired by small groups instead of individuals. This allows friends or co-workers to share the benefits—and the cost—of a trainer.

Good Eating. More than 75 percent of those surveyed by ACE said the majority of their clients feel it is easier to exercise than to eat a balanced, healthy diet. Companies can support their employees’ efforts by providing healthy food alternatives. Replace candy bowls with fruit bowls in work areas. Offer free bottled water instead of soda. Partner with a vending machine company and caterer to ensure there are healthy options available in break and lunch rooms.

A Broader Approach to Fighting Obesity. The most effective weight-loss programs focus on proper nutrition, regular physical activity, behavioral change, and motivation. Think creatively when finding ways to get employees up and moving. Walk outside during one-on-one meetings or take a “stretch break” during meetings that take longer than an hour. Offer bus passes, which often require employees to walk to a stop. Slow down the elevators and put up signage to tell people the stairs are faster.

Posted in Expert Opinions.