Monday, October 2, 2017

Physical Inactivity – The Hidden Disease State

Diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol – these lifestyle diseases are often the common targets of corporate wellness programs, because eliminating them can help lower healthcare expenses and improve workplace health.

But one very significant lifestyle state is often skipped over in that list - physical inactivity.

A newly released employer guide, Physical Activity in the Workplace, prepared by The Institute for Health and Productivity Studies, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, sheds light on the importance of targeting inactivity.

Physical inactivity was responsible for 11.1% of healthcare expenditures between 2006-2011.

The employer guide also emphasized the fact that increasing employees’ physical activity can create significant improvements to the workplace.

These benefits included:

  • An average of 4.1 fewer missed days of work per year
  • Lower healthcare costs
  • Decreased risk of developing costly and debilitating chronic diseases
  • Decreased worker’s compensation claims
  • Increase productivity and focus

Another benefit of adding physical inactivity as an area of focus is the fact that getting your population more active can have a positive ripple effect on the other disease states.

The evidence is powerful for increasing physical activity and the impact that has on diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Compare this to simply making sure someone with hypertension is compliant with their medications. One disease state is impacted, versus many with a good physical activity program.

It also doesn’t take many individuals to have this impact. The CDC guide shows that after introducing a wellness program 2011, O’Neal Industries found in an analysis in 2014 that 400 of their 3000 employees had initiated or improved their exercise levels, contributing to an overall net cost savings of $556,100. That is huge savings coming from moving about 13% of their population.

There is a large area of opportunity for improvement for employers when it comes to physical inactivity considering that 80% of American adults do not meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity and 45% of Americans are not active enough to achieve any sufficient health benefits. 

Employers can help to change these statistics for their employee population. Below are just a few ideas to increase physical activity in the workplace.

  • Encourage walking meetings
  • Put signage by the elevator to encourage stair use (check out our 3 free posters here)
  • Leverage the power of wearables to drive high engagement, the daily touch, and verifiable data (Learn more about driving engagement with wearables with our ebook)
  • Encourage participation in a local 5K run or walk
  • Encourage and allocate time during the work day for an exercise break
  • Arrange a company picnic or outing that involves some type of physical activity 
  • Offer secure bicycle storage for employees who bike to work
  • Implement 5-minute stretch breaks every hour throughout the day
  • Add standing or walking work stations as options throughout the workplace. 

Though often not considered a disease, the bottom-line is that physical inactivity in a population can lead to multiple lifestyle diseases and problems in the workplace including: missed days of work and decreased productivity. 

On the positive side, there is a lot of room for improvement and this is an area where employers can offer the right programs, policies, and environment to have a positive impact.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

2017 HERO Forum Recap: 3 Noteworthy Topics

At the recent HERO forum in Arizona the theme of the conference was engagement. While we were there to highlight the success of one of partners – Cleveland Clinic – I took the time to attend other sessions and three specific issues struck a chord with me…unlike the 108 degree temperature outside!

1. “Small-e” engagement versus “Big-E” engagement.

During the opening remarks Paul Terry, HERO CEO, introduced this interesting concept, essentially making the point that not all engagement is made equal.

In his words, when we are simply going through the motions from day to day we are only participating – “small-e” engagement. However, when there is a positive state of mind that drives dedication in a behavior then there is purpose - “Big-E” engagement. Similarly, not all wellness initiatives are made equal in terms of driving health risk reduction.

While it may feel good to have employees involved in completing an HRA, or attending a lunch ‘n learn, these type of one-time actions have very little impact on overall population health.

On the other hand, creating an environment where employees are physically active year-round can have a huge impact on both individual and aggregate health outcomes.

Where the right type of engagement is critical to employers is when financial rewards are on the line – having incentives pointed at “small – e” not “Big-E” behaviors can be a costly mistake.

2. Acting on real time data.

Jeremy Corbett (CEO Envolve) was among a number of speakers who shared examples of how the collection and analysis of real time data allowed clients to impact the on-going engagement of their programs.

He highlighted this acts on a number of levels – at a base level knowing who is registered or enrolled helps to highlight those who are non-engaged. Digging deeper into the detail of those who are actively participating allows you to identify those who are compliant or successful with the behaviors or actions versus those who may be struggling.

Different communications can be prepared for each sub-group focusing on the issues that are likely to keep them or help them become successful. Having access to real time data is therefore one key element in developing a comprehensive engagement strategy.

3. Community volunteering. 

Stephen Post (Director & Founder of the Center for Medical Humanities) spoke about the positive impact of doing the right thing – “It’s good 2B good”.

For instance, volunteering is clearly doing the right thing for others, but I was also excited to hear the research that shows the impact on those who are also “giving” of their time and resources. Studies highlighted that volunteering provided meaning and purpose to the volunteers.

In an employment setting research was shared that showed employees who volunteered in the community were both healthier and more productive than those who did not. Even more interesting for organizations was the finding that when the employer sponsored the time off for employees to volunteer, 76% of those participating felt better about their employer.

It was encouraging to hear thought-leaders at the Health Enhancement Research Organization support concepts and ideas that we have incorporated as core to our philosophies here at Motion Connected. We strive to engage populations in meaningful behaviors, collect and deliver real time data, and integrate any community or local based activity that promotes employee health and productivity.

Author: Dave Hoinville
Director of Business Development 

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Case Study: Saving Administrative Time, While Boosting Results

OSBA, Ozarks Schools Benefits Association, Inc. (OSBA) is a non-profit association, who was looking to integrate wellness more tightly into its benefit designs.

One of their top priorities was to find new, strategic ways to engage their employees in healthy behaviors. The problem was, with 60+ schools spread across 32 school districts, delivering a consistent wellness program across these widely dispersed locations was difficult.

In particular, delivering year- round engaging activities at each location was near impossible with only one wellness coordinator. Participation in wellness programs at OSBA through the 2015/16 school year was limited to the “usual suspects” with barriers to increased engagement including:

  • multiple programs throughout the school year
  • Inefficient methods for collecting and aggregating data
  • Reaching all employees with effective communication 
  • Lack of incentives that appealed to all employees

It quickly became clear that myInertia’s approach matched OSBA’s needs in a number of key areas:

Access to discounted activity trackers from Fitbit and Garmin through The Wellness Outlet provided a tangible tool to create both excitement and engagement. OSBA added a $10 subsidy to the on-line store where myInertia managed all transactions and fulfillment direct to employee’s homes.

myInertia provided employees with an easy to use platform that created a consistent experience regardless of location. Employees had immediate access to all resources they needed to participate along with real time feedback and progress.

The customizable portal also enabled huge administrative efficiencies including:

  • Creation of a points based structure that combined all previous wellness activities into one comprehensive program
  • Program promotion and delivery of all resources direct to each employee 
  • Automatic collection of validated data for multiple wellness activities
  • Access to real time reports for employee recognition and program evaluation. These reports were available for OSBA, by school district and for each school individually. 

OSBA established a tiered financial incentive and myInertia was able to establish points levels that ensured the highest incentive could only be reached with year-round engagement.

The results included exceeding their participant goal and growing their daily step average to 6,900. (beating the national average of 5,900)

Krista, OSBA’s wellness coordinator was also satisfied was the new program structure:

“OSBA implemented our wellness program 10 years ago. While we had decent success, it had become stale; we needed a change! myInertia gave our program a fresh face and our participation went from 500 people to almost 1,500! myInertia also gave me as the wellness coordinator the tools and administrative support that I needed to manage everyone, their accounts and their technical questions.”

Want to know more? Download their full story here >

Friday, August 18, 2017

Promote Physical Activity with This Infographic

Looking to educate employees on the importance of physical activity?

We've created a free, easy-to-print infographic you can use to promote physical activity in the workplace. The infographic features the why behind activity. The benefits are great (and pretty easy to achieve, too).

Click here to download the high resolution infographic and share the poster with your population today: (A bonus, why wearables are so great infographic is also included!)

Download now >

Friday, June 16, 2017

Four Answers for Clients Looking to Launch a Budget-Friendly, Activity Tracking Program

Wearables are a fast-growing trend, with over 75 million devices expected to be in use in the workplace by 2020, according to a recent report released by Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO).

And they are popular for good reason. A physical activity tracking program with wearables is a great way to truly engage employees in healthy behavior, while also providing verifiable results back to the organization. (read more about the benefits of wearables here>)

But when clients want to add more physical activity tracking to their wellness program it can be tricky. Employers are often left asking, “How can we get the budget to include wearables?”

As their broker, you can demonstrate your value and expertise with these four answers:

1) Let’s look at reallocation of your current funds.

Our experience has brought us to countless conversations with employers that annually spend money on health risk assessments, biometric screenings, gym reimbursements and health coaching. While each offers its own benefit, none of them beat the accountability that can come through daily activity tracking.

Suggest redirecting these dollars towards an activity tracker credit, plus integrating these devices with a platform that provides an engaging experience and aggregate results. Then come back a year or so later and measure the change in Biometric results.

2) Let’s find discounted options that limit distribution hassle.

The Wellness Outlet is an on-line fitness tracking device store with no set up fee and no minimum purchase volumes. There are a wide variety of popular Fitbit and Garmin options available, starting at $25. It makes it easy to offer discounted devices to employees with no employer subsidy required.

However, if your employer wants to put dollars in, The Wellness Outlet has an easy feature to put company dollars towards an employee’s purchase. It also saves money by saving administrator’s hassle because devices are shipped directly to the employee’s home. In case you didn’t find the funds to support a company subsidy through re-allocation, there may be other ways.

3) Your current or future Insurance Carrier may be an ally.

Often, carriers have discretionary dollars banked to acquire new business. Get creative and negotiate these discretionary dollars to benefit your client’s wellness objectives, with a long-term plan that goes beyond this year’s premiums.

In certain markets, we continue to see carriers such as Anthem, UHC, Cigna and Aetna, provide employers with credits that can help wellness programs get a jumpstart. If you are bringing a program that not only puts fitness trackers in their hands, but displays persistent utilization through an annual platform, you’re more likely to gain support. Not only that, but you will be setting yourself apart as a thought leader, only furthering your leverage as a broker.

4) There is an option to tie premium contributions to wellness participation and engagement.

To do this, the employer simply needs to create two tiers of contributions, one tier for non-participants and one tier for those participating. The variance between the tiers, calculated to an annual amount, then becomes your carrot.

For example, let’s say an employer wants to contribute $300 more per year towards the cost of a single plan for those that engage in the wellness plan. That would mean in monthly terms, an employee could gain an additional $25 towards the cost of their insurance premiums.

To participate, employees would be asked to purchase an activity tracker. If an employee’s best means of obtaining these premium dollars is through activity tracking, then it becomes simple math for them. If they buy a device, they get more.

Of course, to make this easier to administer and more engaging for employees, an annual platform is necessary. The data from devices needs to be fed into a system that aggregates it and assigns point values. The point values then are attached to the separate tiers. Generally, the split of employees into tiers allows you to use your budget differently. In other words, you can then have more dollars funnel to the engaged, with less going to the disengaged.

Overall, activity tracking programs can truly have a positive impact on your clients’ health. And by considering some of these out of the box solutions you can help offer unique value to new and existing customers.

We have been integrating action based wellness solutions into benefit design for the past 10 years. If you would like to learn more about any of these budget neutral approaches feel free to reach out at or scheduling an appointment online with our team here. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Our Top Fitness Tracker Picks

In order to provide the best service possible to our clients, we are constantly testing out the latest and greatest in wearable fitness trackers. Some of us can be seen with 3+ Fitbit or Garmin devices on at a time, and we often spend our lunch breaks discussing our activity data after a quick walk.

So, what better people to ask for wearable advice than our employees? We asked them what fitness tracker they feel best fits their daily lifestyle and compiled the list below to help you and your employees pick the best options for you:

Psst. Have you heard? We have a new product, The Wellness Outlet, whose sole job is to distribute wearables to your population at discounted prices. If you want to learn about this free value-add, you can schedule a time to connect with one of our team members here.

My workout style:Yoga and Barre fanatic
My favorite feature: Heart rate monitor

I love the Garmin vívosmart HR because the type of workouts I chose to do don’t involve a lot of movement compared to others. Because of the heart rate monitor, I still get credit for being active! I also love how much the screen displays for me – from steps and calories burned to phone notifications and the weather.

You should buy the device if: you love technology and do various workouts that don’t always involve “stepping”.

My workout style: Ex-competitive runner turned recreational soccer player
My favorite feature: Simplicity – clip it on and go, long battery life

I don’t like wearing wrist devices so something that is small and versatile, like the Garmin vívoki, that can clip to the waist or slip in a pocket works well for me. I also don’t want to have to think about the device a lot so the long battery life and easy offload is a big plus. I just need something that will keep me honest and let me know that I’m doing enough activity each day.

You should buy this device if: you want a no-frills, affordable device that isn’t wrist-worn.

My workout style: Fitness class fanatic (Pilates, Strength, Insanity, etc.)
My favorite feature:  Hourly move reminders & goal reached celebration function

I like the Fitbit Alta because it has stylish band options and an easy to use interface. Tap once and you can see all your stats. It does a great job tracking my various workout classes and Tuesday night volleyball games. It’s also great for move reminders. Every hour it buzzes with fun motivational sayings to help you get up and move. It also has a cool celebration notification when I meet my goals. Sounds like a minor detail, but being able to get that instant gratification of meeting a goal is a perfect motivator for me!

You should buy this device if: you are looking for slim, cool looking device great for everyday use.

My workout style: Heinz 57 or Mutt
My favorite feature: Versatility

I’m always on the go and squeeze time in for daily exercise wherever I can. The Garmin vívoactive HR versatility allows me to go from the office, to the gym, out for a run, ride, swim or coaching on the soccer field, all with the same device. The simplicity and versatility of the vivoactive HR fits well with a busy lifestyle.

You should buy this device if: you are looking for simplistic, yet versatile device.

My workout style: I am very much a moderate intensity, walk/hike/bike kind of girl. I have some physical limitations that keep me at a slower pace than I’d like. BUT, the key is to keep on moving, so I do!

My favorite feature: The band. It might sound silly, but the band is very comfortable. I keep it on 24/7, so that really is important. It’s comfortable and un-intrusive. It’s perfect and the best I’ve worn.

I love the Garmin vívofit 3 because it’s simple – I was able to “put it on and go” for the most part. I LOVE that it is waterproof. I don’t ever have to worry about it getting damaged. I love that I don’t have to take it off when swimming, or in the shower, or to charge the battery (because I know I’d forget to put it back on). I’ve only replaced the battery once so far and I’ve had it over 2 years!

You should buy this device if: you need something simple, durable and comfortable to wear and track activity every day!

My workout style: Cardio, Running, Hiking, Biking, Lifting
My favorite feature: Toss up between Water rating and GPS

I really like the durability of all the Garmin Devices. I like the Garmin Forerunner 235 because I can switch between cardio, running, biking, and walking without changing devices, which is awesome. I also never have to worry about getting it wet! I enjoy knowing that the battery will last upwards to 20 days on a single charge.

You should buy this device if: You enjoy running and biking.

My Workout style: Daily walks, with some weekly strength/cardio classes, like Barre.
My favorite feature: Looks like a normal watch

I like the Garmin vívomove because it has activity tracking for steps, miles and sleep but the look of a normal watch. It is sporty enough to wear during my walks and cardio classes but classy enough to wear with a dress. No one even realizes that I have an activity device on. I also really enjoy how low-tech it is as I tend to underutilize all the bells and whistles that can come with the different devices.

You should buy this device if: you are looking for basic and fashionable activity tracking.

My workout style: Unfocused

My favorite feature: Menu navigation is simple

I use steps and time to gauge my wellness goals. However, when I do run or bike I really like to know the distance using GPS so I can plan routes. Navigating and setting the Fitbit Charge 2 for running or biking is easier for me than on my other devices that track the same information.

You should buy this device if: you don't need a lot of options and find other device menus confusing.

My workout style: Cardio Queen, Circuits, & I love to swim 😊
My favorite feature: Waterproof

I love that the all of my notifications from my phone come to my Garmin vívosmart HR, with the ability to see the screen on a sunny day. The built-in heart rate monitor gives you a real time reading of my heart rate at any given time which is a nice function.

You should buy this device if: You are looking for a durable device that gives you real time access to notifications and heart rate.

My workout style: From pumping iron to missing putts
My favorite feature: Golf tracking

The Garmin Approach S20 gives me an excuse to conduct business on the golf course! The GPS golf tracking is awesome and the smart watch keeps me connected in the gym or on the course while also tracking daily activity.

You should buy this device: you enjoy golf and want an all in one solution.

My workout style: Sportsman (hunting, fishing, etc.)
My favorite feature: The illuminated display

The Garmin vivofit 3 is very simple and easy to use. The illuminated screen makes it easy to check the time when I am out in the field or woods in the early mornings and late nights.

You should buy this device if: you are looking for an activity tracker that is very simple and easy to use.

My workout style: Running to stay fit.
My favorite feature: Waterproof

I like my thin, waterproof Garmin vívoactive HR. It tracks so many activities indoors and outside that I don’t need another device. GPS tracking is nice to have too. I like knowing my heartrate 24/7. It’s amazing how quick heartrate goes up and how long it takes to return to normal  after 5 mile run.

You should buy this device if:  you participate different activities and want to be able to track them all with one single device.

My workout style: Run 4 days per week and 2 marathons per year.
My favorite feature:  I like the altimeter on the Garmin fénix 3 HR for a more accurate elevation total over my runs.

The Fenix 3 HR takes the best of all of the Garmin technology and puts it into one watch. I like to do a lot of different activities so the Fenix 3HR is perfect for me to use when I run, climb, bike, swim, and downhill ski.

You should buy this device if: you are active person that loves data.

We hope you enjoyed the list! We have a printable 8 1/2 x 11 version you can download here, and share/distribute as you please.

Every device listed here is available in The Wellness Outlet store, some up to 40% off retail! If you'd like more information on getting your employees access to the store please click here to talk with our wellness representatives.

Or, if you already have access to the store, login here to start shopping!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Advice on Wearables: Our Recent Highlight in the Health Promotion Journal

We are honored to be highlighted in the recent issue of The Art of Health Promotion, Editor’s Desk: The Wearables in Wellness Issue.

The publication went into detail about wearables role in the workplace, and identifies the following promising practices for businesses that have added, or are considering adding, wearables to their own well-being efforts:

  • Give or subsidize devices for employees rather than requiring them to buy their own; 
  • Set goals and encourage employees to meet them and earn incentives; 
  • Involve spouses and domestic partners to increase participation and create a support system outside of the workplace;
  • Use a pilot program to identify ways to improve the effort before expanding to the entire workforce; and 
  • Modify the program from time to time to keep employees engaged. 

This approach is something myInertia strongly believes in.

As Sherry Freeman, myInertia's Director of Wellness Operations and Key Accounts, states in this Art of Health Promotion issue:

“Wearables are a very exciting addition to health and well-being programs. In fact, in the more than 15 years I’ve devoted to helping people improve their health, this is one of the most impactful opportunities that has come my way.


First, employees want wearables. It is a popular consumer health trend that many employees value.

Second, wearables can provide employers with objective data to make insightful program improvements.

Third, the data are derived from the employee taking ongoing action, which is an important differentiator from the data that come from one-time biometric screenings or other less frequent data collection mechanisms. This ongoing action supports long-term behavior change, which is a key in order to driving a positive impact on an organization’s bottom line.

As exciting as wearable technology is, simply delivering the devices to employees and not developing an ongoing engagement strategy will severely limit their impact. My advice is to take the time to:

1. secure leadership buy-in and ongoing support
2. properly communicate and promote the program,
3. pick an incentive strategy that is both sustainable for the organization and meaningful to employees,
4. create ongoing social interactions and programs to keep employees using the devices, and
5. set baseline goals and objectives and plan for how you are going to measure them.

Without this forethought, wearables will likely not drive meaningful results. As referenced earlier in this issue of The Art of Health Promotion, one-third of wearable devices are abandoned after only 6 months of use.

My work with employers has demonstrated time and again that although giving wearables to employees creates initial excitement, that enthusiasm quickly wears off. Those employers who are most successful at driving sustained usage and creating true health improvement do so by creating a wearables strategy focused on the 5 elements listed above.

I love using and understanding how to optimize wearables to improve my own individual health and the health of my client organizations. But I live, eat, and breathe health. The vast majority of the population does not. For them, we need a strong wellness program with a strategic plan and expert execution to achieve the success I’ve seen wearable devices provide for so many employers.”

You can read the full Journal publication here.

Also, if you have any questions, or would like to talk about adding a similar strategy to your wellness program, connect with one of strategists by booking a time using their online calendar here.