Workplace Wellness Programs Lead The Way In The Fight For Healthier Communities – There’s no doubt that working in an environment that supports healthy behaviors helps us reach our own wellness goals. If you work for a corporation or organization that supports walk breaks, healthy vending machine options and donut-free meetings it’s much easier to gain the momentum you need to reach your own exercise and nutrition goals. Believe me, with the rising cost of healthcare and the statistics that show how a well-run workplace wellness program can help offset some of those costs, getting the Human Resource Director on board is not all that hard.
Zero Trends and The Don’t Get Worse Philosophy – In 2009 Dr. Dee Edington, PhD published the book Zero Trends which has since become the workplace wellness bible. In the book, Dr. Edington discusses the rising cost of healthcare which, in part, is due to the declining health of Americans. The book also outlines a strategy for the workplace to reverse the downward trend, and includes a call to action inviting employers to take a leadership role by implementing changes that will support their employees’ efforts towards healthier behaviors. His philosophy has two strong messages that he believes will lower healthcare costs and increase workplace productivity: “Don’t get worse” and “help healthy people stay healthy.”
Don’t Get Worse? Over time, relatively healthy people that participate in unhealthy behaviors, such as eating a high-fat diet, smoking, and not getting any physical activity, shift from the ‘feeling okay’ bucket into the chronic signs and symptoms bucket. Eventually they wind up in the ‘premature sickness and disabilty’ bucket where implementation of high cost disease management begins and absenteeism and presenteeism become noticeable.
We all work with someone that could take better care of themselves. They may be running through the fast food line to pick up lunch every day, sit at a desk for eight hours without giving much consideration to the need for physical activity, and continue to smoke. During the early years of their life they will probably be able to work and engage in outside activities without difficulty. Over the years, however, symptoms begin to appear – hypertension, high blood sugar, steady weight gain, shortness of breath. Eventually, they have to begin to limit their activity and don’t seem as productive at work.
Dr. Edington believes this seemingly natural gravitation from wellness to sickness that has become so prevalent in our society is because of a ‘do nothing strategy’. Our healthcare system does little to help healthy people stay healthy. This ‘do nothing strategy’ is also what is driving the cost of healthcare as more and more people migrate into the chronic disease pool.
The Do Something Strategy – If the high cost of healthcare isn’t what’s fueling your desire to create a culture of health where you work, but rather your own desire to spend those eight to ten hours a day in a place where the aroma of McDonalds cheeseburgers don’t overwhelm you every day at noon and cream filled donuts aren’t standard fare at morning meetings, the ‘don’t get worse’ philosophy is still relevant. The Zero Trends viewpoint will help you establish programs that are designed for all health and fitness levels; from your marathon runners to your couch potatoes.
Put That Cookie Down Now! Can Help You Get Started
Put Down The Cookie was the name of the Maintain, Don’t Gain holiday program that I introduced at work last year prior to Thanksgiving and it has now evolved into our wellness slogan and this web site, which was originally started for the purpose of supporting the workplace wellness efforts.
The task of creating a workplace challenge is not that scary. It just needs a super-motivated, organized wellness champion like you! Invite your co-workers to participate in a weight loss competition, physical activity program like 10,000 Steps a Day or Couch to 5K or join a No Fast Food For Ten Days Challenge. Tell them you’re going to all work together to put down the cookie in 2012.
Bracelets Anyone? Once you’ve decided to lead the charge on your workplace wellness program, I’ll send you putthatcookiedownnow.com bracelets for you to give away to the first 10 people that sign up. Just send an email to me at K_Stefaniak28@yahoo.com and tell me what you’ve got planned for your program start-up along with an address or P.O. Box to receive the bracelets.
Good luck! America Needs You!!