ROI Statistics

A review of 32 studies of corporate wellness programs found claims costs were reduced by 27.8%, physician visits declined by 16.5%, hospital admissions declined by 62.5%, disability costs reduced by 34.4%, incidence of injury declined by 24.8%.

A study reported average annual savings of $8.5 million during 4 years when 18,331 Johnson & Johnson employees participated in a health and wellness program at work. A separate study of the same group showed reductions in tobacco use, sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, low dietary fiber intake and poor motor vehicle safety practices. 

Another study showed that employees who utilized an employee fitness center gained both physical and psychological benefits: improved morale (64%), job satisfaction (70%), work productivity (66%), energy level (83%), physical fitness (86%), general health (80%), work/life balance (63%), stress management (76%), stamina/endurance (84%), attentiveness at work (70%), healthy back (74%), keeping high blood pressure in check (62%), managing cholesterol levels (68%), and controlling weight (76%). 

Citibank’s health management program reported an estimated return on investment of $4.56 to $4.73 saved per $1 spent on the program (AJHP, Ozminkowski, Goetzel et al., 1999).

Over 5 years, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Indiana realized a 250% return on its corporate fitness program investment, yielding a ROI of $2.51 for every $1.00 invested (AJHP, Kenneth R. Pelletier, March/April 1991).

Aurora Healthcare, 2005, http://www.aurorahealthcare.org

What is SAD?

The winter cold and darkness can put you in a funk. If you suffer from the winter blues, these six tips can brighten your mood.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a winter malady that causes depression, lethargy, and lack of motivation. It affects up to six percent of the United States population, particularly women in their twenties, thirties, and forties. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that SAD can also occur in men and children and that many SAD sufferers have at least one close relative with severe depressive disorder.

What are the symptoms of SAD?

According to the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association, the key symptoms of SAD include extreme fatigue, sleep problems, depression, anxiety, irritability, carbohydrate cravings, increased appetite, weight gain and loss of libido. Sufferers are also more vulnerable to winter illnesses because their immune system can become weakened. Due to its symptomology, SAD can be misdiagnosed as hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, infectious mononucleosis, and other viral infections.

Many people experience the “winter blues” as a result of cold, gray days but people with SAD experience a much more intense form of the blues. Dr. Cheryl Perlis, a Chicago health and wellness expert, warns that the long, dreary winters can take their toll on even the most seasoned cold-weather native. She says, “I regularly treat patients whose mood, motivation, and total outlook has shifted as a result of the winter blues or seasonal depression.”

But there are things you can do to keep your energy and spirits high. The following six tips can be incorporated during the winter as well as throughout the year to keep you healthy and improve the quality of your life.

Six Tips To Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

1. Light up your day. Even if it is gray and cloudy, the effects of daylight are beneficial. In addition to daylight, daily light therapy has been shown to be effective in 85 percent of diagnosed SAD cases. Daily light therapy involves one to four hours of exposure to lighting that is 10 times the intensity of regular domestic lighting.

2. Balanced nutrition. A well-balanced nutritious diet will give you more energy and possibly quell your carb cravings. Comfort food tastes good and it may make you feel better for the short-term, but a balanced diet of vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains will healthfully keep your weight in check and make you feel better in the long-run.

3. Get your supplements. Getting your recommended daily amounts of vitamins and minerals can help alleviate some of the SAD symptoms and improve your energy, particularly if you are deficient in key nutrients. There is a variety of seasonal supplements available but check with your physician or naturopath before taking mega-doses or herbal formulations. A multi-vitamin and mineral supplement may be all you need.

4. Move your body. Regardless of the time of year, regular exercise is essential for overall health. Even if the weather has you relegated to the indoors, you can still head to your local gym or do exercise videos in the comfort of your home. Getting your body moving will help you battle winter weight gain, boost your endorphins, and may even help you sleep more soundly.

5. Prioritize social activities. Stay connected to your social network. Getting out of the house and doing enjoyable things with friends and family can do wonders to cheer you up. Go to a movie or make a dinner date. Get the most bang for your efforts and, if weather permitting, get outdoors for a group ski or hike – you can get your exercise, social fix and daylight needs met in one shot.

6. Get help. If you have exhausted your attempts at natural remedies and the symptoms of SAD are still interfering with your daily functioning, seek professional help. Antidepressants and certain types of psychotherapy have proven effective in treating SAD and helping people cope with seasonal mood changes.

Michele Borboa, MS
Originally printed in www.sheknows.com
http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/802714/sad-tips-to-beat-the-winter-blues

Know Your Numbers

A big part of your health routine should be visits to your doctor for regular wellness exams. During these exams, your doctor will most likely perform a few routine tests. When you receive your test results, it will be important for you to understand what those numbers mean to your health.

Blood Pressure

One of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of a stroke or heart attack is to keep your blood pressure near 120/80.

BMI (Body Mass Index)

Obesity is associated with a number of life-threatening diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and even certain cancers. BMI is a tool that indicates your obesity status. To get your BMI:

  1. Multiply your weight by 703
  2. Divide the result by your height in inches
  3. Divide this number by your height in inches again

You are at a healthy weight if the final number is between 18.5 and 24.9. If the final number is 25 or higher, you should consider losing weight. You should also remember that results will vary by gender and age, and muscle weighs more than fat. Some people who are fit and very muscular have a high BMI.

Glucose

Monitoring blood glucose levels is critical in the early detection and treatment of diabetes, a disease that can cause damage to the heart, kidney, nerves, blood vessels or eyes. While blood glucose levels will vary, ideal fasting blood glucose is between 70–110 mg/dl. If your fasting level is above 120, you should see your doctor for follow-up.

Cholesterol

The body produces two types of cholesterol: HDL, known as “good” cholesterol because it protects against dangerous blockages in the arteries that can lead to heart disease; and LDL, known as “bad” cholesterol because it is more likely to clog arteries and produce heart disease. A healthy total cholesterol level is a reading of less than 200 mg/dl. Total cholesterol is a combination of LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides (another form of fat in your body). The goal is to have your LDL levels less than 100, HDL levels greater than 40, and triglycerides less than 150.

Once you know your numbers, you and your doctor will be able to better discuss what you may need to get healthier.

© 2010 CIGNA

Workplace Snack Strategies

Work can be a disaster for your diet, especially if you’re in an office that stocks vending machines with high-calorie chips and candy bars.  Soda wreaks havoc on a diet as it is comprised of empty liquid calories, more than 250 in just one 20-ounce bottle.  If you’re not prepared to succeed, you can easily succumb to a snack-attack and add hundreds of unwanted and non-nutritious calories.  You’re most vulnerable during the mid-afternoon, so have healthy ammunition at hand.

1. Coffee:

A cup or two in the morning can get you going, and even improve concentration, but too much coffee will have the opposite effect, making it more difficult to concentrate and possibly causing insomnia.  If you load your coffee up with cream and sugar, you’ll be taking in extra, unwanted calories.  For a pick-me-up before 3 PM, have a café “light:” half strong black coffee (or decaffeinated) and half nonfat milk.  Heat the milk in the microwave first (about 30-40 seconds, depending on your microwave’s strength), and then add the coffee. Sweeten with Splenda or other sweetener of choice.

2. Snacking:

Snacking is a smart strategy for people trying to control their weight.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but studies show that eating smaller meals more frequently can actually help you lose weight.  Instead of eating three “square” meals, eating smaller, mini-meals helps you maintain energy throughout the day and stay motivated to choose healthy foods.

– Cereal: A cup of mini shredded wheat or favorite non-sugary cereal with a cup of nonfat milk, yogurt, or soy yogurt makes a great office snack.  Hot oatmeal in convenient single servings can be microwaved in your office kitchen.

– Cheese: Low fat varieties: read the label, the first ingredient should be skim milk.  One ounce of Jarlesberg or other low fat cheese wrapped with your fruit is tasty.  Nonfat or 1% cottage cheese is a great snack; mix with salad herbs or black pepper for added flavor.

– Dips & Dippers: Avocado dip (guacamole), chickpea dip (hummus), or tomato salsa, all made without mayonnaise (use a little olive oil instead) are perfect dips for cut-up raw veggies.

– Fruit: Whole fruit including berries, melon, apples, oranges, and grapefruit have the most fiber and fewest grams of carbohydrate per serving. Eat along with some nonfat yogurt, low fat cheese, or a handful of nuts. You’re too busy to prepare?  Buy pre-washed and cut melon.

– Mini Pita Pizza: Top ½ of a whole wheat mini pita with tomato sauce, a little low fat mozzarella cheese, and oregano to taste. Broil in a toaster oven until cheese melts.

– Nuts: An ideal combination of unsaturated fat, protein, and carbohydrates, nuts are portable and nutritious.  Buy dry roasted (no oil added) unsalted nuts, peanuts in the shell, and eat a “handful,” about 200 calories, depending on the variety.

– Popcorn: Air-popped popcorn is your best bet. For more flavor, add a quick spray of olive oil and a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese. “Lite” microwave popcorn has more fat than air-popped, and it’s hydrogenated (the worst kind).

– Raisins: Mix a small box of raisins with nuts or dry roasted pumpkin seeds for a healthy trail mix.

– Rice cakes: Spread a tablespoon of natural peanut butter (without hydrogenated fat or sugar added) on your rice cakes and top with a teaspoon of unsweetened preserves.

– Smoothies: If you have a kitchen at work, smoothies are ideal snacks.  Blend 1 cup of nonfat milk, ½ cup of nonfat sugar-free yogurt, 2 drops of vanilla extract, and 1 cup of ice.  Optional: add a ½ cup of berries.

– Wrap-ups: Spread a small whole-grain tortilla with a teaspoon of mustard and wrap-up one ounce of any lean meat, including turkey or chicken breast, roast beef, lean ham, or shrimp.

– Yogurt: Individual cups of nonfat, sugar-free yogurt are a great source of calcium. Stir in ½ cup of unsweetened crunchy cereal.

– Portable Coolers: Invest in a portable cooler that is big enough to hold a few cups of yogurt and some fresh fruit for you to keep on hand at work.

3. Water:

Drink a glass of water (or from the bottle that you should have at your desk).  Wait 15 minutes, and then have your snack.  I guarantee you’ll feel more satisfied.

About the Author
Registered and Licensed Dietitian Susan Burke March, MS, CDE,  is the author of “Making Weight Control Second Nature: Living Thin Naturally.” She may be reached online at www.SusanBurkeMarch.com.

How You Benefit from Worksite Wellness

Healthier behaviors translate into fewer health issues within the workforce, which in turn lowers health care costs. In fact, more than 120 research studies about worksite wellness programs show improvements in employee health coupled with high returns on investments (ROI).

Major study findings include the following statistics:

  • Savings of $3.48 in reduced health care costs per dollar invested
  • Savings of $5.82 in lower absenteeism costs per dollar invested
  • ROIs of at least $3 to $8 per dollar invested within five years of program implementation
  • Lifestyle behavior change programs — $3 to $6 ROI within 2 to 5 years
  • Self care, decision support programs — $2 to $3 ROI within 1 year
  • Disease management programs — $7 to $10 ROI within 1 year

The impact of a health improvement program also goes beyond decreased health care costs and ROI. A health improvement program can affect productivity, absenteeism, morale, recruitment success, turnover, and medical care costs.

http://www.ibx.com/worksite_wellness/

Enjoy Thanksgiving While Trying to Lose Weight

Tips and Tricks to Eating Holiday Meals Without Blowing the Diet

Don’t let all the treats, dinners and parties of the holiday season undo the healthy lifestyle changes made this year. Enjoy time with friends and make wise food choices. Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Grocery stores are already setting up holiday baking displays. For some people, holidays are all about food, and lots of it. The average Thanksgiving meal consists of over 2000 calories. This year make some healthy changes to the holiday menu and avoid the Black Friday guilt.

Calorie Count for the Traditional Thanksgiving Menu

Counting calories this time of year doesn’t have to mean deprivation. Enjoy all the traditional foods but in a modified way. Below is a traditional menu with all the trimmings. For most people, there’s a day’s worth in this one meal.

Roasted dark and white meat turkey with skin — 450 calories

Homemade stuffing with gravy – 600 calories

Cranberry relish -200 calories

Candied sweet potatoes – 400 calories

Green bean casserole – 190 calories

Pumpkin pie with whipped cream – 400 calories

Cup of eggnog – 400 calories

TOTAL: 2,640 calories

Calorie Count for an Alternative Low-Fat Thanksgiving Menu

This modified menu has retained most of the traditional fare. Enjoy the same tastes and smells of childhood. However, most of the added fat, sat and sugar has been removed. Also the calorie count is only half a day’s worth or less depending on an individual’s calorie requirements.

3 oz White turkey breast without skin – 190 calories

Turkey Sausage Stuffing with onion gravy – 220 calories

Roasted sweet potatoes – 110 calories

Braised collard greens – 120 calories

Apple Raspberry Crumble – 120 calories

Unsweetened ice tea – 0 calories

TOTAL: 760 calories

Other Alternatives to Consider Adding to the Menu

Creamy low-fat mashed cauliflower at 86 calories a serving is a healthy alternative to home-made mashed potatoes at 220 calories. If mashed potatoes are desired, consider using skim milk instead of cream or whole milk, and top with butter flavored sprinkles in place of butter, margarine or sour cream. For a healthier stuffing, consider substituting whole grain or whole wheat breads in place of the traditional white bread or corn bread in most recipes.

Tips and Tricks to Avoid Eating Too Much

It is recommended during weight loss that an individual break their daily calories into small frequent meals. Try to stick to normal eating routines even on the holidays. Even if the Thanksgiving meal is at lunch instead of dinner, keep the portions and calorie count within the normal range.

Don’t take seconds and stay away from breads, starches and sugars.

Drink ice water or unsweetened ice tea before and during the meal. The body must warm up the cold beverage to be used by the body. The warming process burns extra calories. Also, the added fluids will create a sense of fullness and ward off excessive hunger and the tendency to over eat.

Relax and Enjoy the Day

These are all just suggestions. It’s not so much about what is eaten but how much is eaten. Calories consumed must be less than calories burned in order for weight loss to occur. The problem with holiday eating is that there tends to be so many food choices, many of them are rich and high in calories. It’s really all about choices. Relax and enjoy the day but remember to follow basic weight loss rules. Take small portions. Choose foods that are low fat, low salt and low in sugar. Thanksgiving comes but once a year. Make it a special day without regret.

Copyright Amy Wingfield. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

Great American Smokeout

The American Cancer Society is marking the 35th Great American Smokeout on November 18 by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. By doing so, smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing cancer risk. Quitting smoking is not easy, but it can be done. To have the best chance of quitting successfully, you need to know what you’re up against, what your options are, and where to go for help.

http://www.cancer.org/Healthy/StayAwayfromTobacco/GreatAmericanSmokeout/history-of-the-great-american-smokeout

What’s Your Fitness Personality?

Find an activity that’s perfect for you

Busy moms find it hard to squeeze in time for fitness, even though managing kids, home and job can feel like a workout in itself. To find an exercise that works for you (and to improve your chances of sticking with it), you need to match your personality to the perfect activity. Whether it’s yoga, running or even boxing, each has great benefits for your heart and your head.

Personality Type: Couch Potato

The Perfect Activity: Cardiovascular training. Ten-minute exercise sessions three times a day can be as beneficial as a longer session. Use the kids’ nap or homework time to do squats or sit-ups, run in place or jump rope.
Time: 30 minutes per day, three to five days per week
Calories burned: 300 per day*

Personality Type: Social Butterfly

The Perfect Activity: Group sports. Find a partner and start running, or organize a regular group cycling time. Just be careful not to turn exercise into a pure social hour — if you can easily carry on a full, animated conversation during your aerobic exercise (no gasps for air), you may not be working at a high enough intensity.
Time: 30 minutes per session, three to five days per week
Calories burned: cycling, 250*; running, 327*

Personality Type: Multitasker

The Perfect Activity: Out-of-the-box aerobic classes. Try kickboxing, for example. It requires focus, yet offers variety — you’ll constantly switch from the punching bag and push-ups to jumping jacks and sidekicks. With circuit-training classes, you move from one exercise to the next without resting, which keeps your heart rate elevated and maximizes your workout time.
Time: 30 minutes per session, three to five days per week
Calories burned: kickboxing, 422*; circuit training, 281*

Personality Type: Soloist

The Perfect Activity: Swimming or yoga. Swimming laps can be both a solitary and a rigorous exercise. Yoga is a personal practice involving a great deal of introspection and concentration. Both are great full-body workouts — and perfect for getting some healthy time alone.
Time: half-hour swim; one-hour yoga session (video or class)
Calories burned: swimming, 144*; yoga, 90* to 300* (depending on the type of yoga)

*Calories burned are approximate, based on a 150-pound person and will vary with intensity level. Consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.

From www.makinglifebetter.com

Why start a wellness program?

The ROI of worksite wellness programs.

As a small business owner, you know that formal wellness programs have been in place in large companies and organizations for years – and that all current data demonstrates a significant return on investment for employers when they invest in organized employee health and wellness efforts.

The move to introduce formal wellness initiatives in small companies has been happening more quietly, and while much available measurements are based on larger organizations, there’s little doubt that a healthy workforce – regardless of size – is a more productive workforce. It’s simple: When your employees are healthy, they get sick less often, don’t miss as much work, and are better able to handle stress and meet customer needs more effectively.

Here are some eye-opening statistics that demonstrate the value – and employer return on investment – thanks to formal workplace wellness programs:

  • A review of 32 studies of corporate wellness programs found claims costs were reduced by 27.8%, physician visits declined by 16.5%, hospital admissions declined by 62.5%, disability costs reduced by 34.4%, incidence of injury declined by 24.8%.
  • A study reported average annual savings of $8.5 million during 4 years when 18,331 Johnson & Johnson employees participated in a health and wellness program at work.
  • A separate study of the same group showed reductions in tobacco use, sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, low dietary fiber intake and poor motor vehicle safety practices.
  • Another study showed that employees who utilized an employee fitness center gained both physical and psychological benefits: improved morale (64%), job satisfaction (70%), work productivity (66%), energy level (83%), physical fitness (86%), general health (80%), work/life balance (63%), stress management (76%), stamina/endurance (84%), attentiveness at work (70%), healthy back (74%), keeping high blood pressure in check (62%), managing cholesterol levels (68%), and controlling weight (76%).
  • Citibank’s health management program reported an estimated return on investment of $4.56 to $4.73 saved per $1 spent on the program (AJHP, Ozminkowski, Goetzel et al., 1999).
  • Over 5 years, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Indiana realized a 250% return on its corporate fitness program investment, yielding a ROI of $2.51 for every $1.00 invested (AJHP, Kenneth R. Pelletier, March/April 1991).

 

From www.aurorahealthcare.org

Preventing the Flu: Good Health Habits Can Help Stop Germs

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. There also are flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat and prevent the flu.

  1. Avoid close contact.
    Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  2. Stay home when you are sick.
    If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  3. Cover your mouth and nose.
    Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  4. Clean your hands.
    Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
  5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
    Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  6. Practice other good health habits.
    Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

 

From www.cdc.gov