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,

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

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.


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.


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