Every wellness provider has a “secret” wellness program ingredient that drives their mission to deliver healthier employees.
...The biometric vendors say employees have to “know their numbers” so they can address specific health concerns...
...The stress management providers say no one can take care of themselves until they address their stress issues...
...The EAP programs assert when participants are bogged down by the blues and other emotional health issues, they simply don’t have the energy or willpower to take healthy actions...
...Sleep programs show that a poor night of sleep leads to poor food choices and decreased will power the following day...
...You can hardly open up a wellness news brief without some article about how alleviating financial pressures through financial wellness is the key to healthier employees...
The magnitude of varying messages can leave many employers asking, where do I start? What can give me the biggest bang for my buck?
It’s time to look to physical activity.
Instead of focusing on solving one health problem at a time, slowly and with limited engagement, physical activity programs allow you to impact a wide range of health issues all at once, for low cost, and with more inclusivity. Helping you drive the higher engagement needed to save money and change behavior.
Not only is getting people active one of the most powerful disease prevention and treatment initiatives available to improve all the numbers on biometrics, it can make powerful impact on your other well-being goals.
Here’s how it helps:
STRESS: Exercise provides immediate and powerful improvement on stress by reducing levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. In addition, exercise itself can be an incredible mindfulness tool, where your brain finally relaxes. Does sitting through a stress awareness course have an immediate benefit to lowering stress and lead to other great things like reducing cholesterol, blood pressure and more?
MOOD: Just 10 minutes of exercise increases serotonin levels that will leave you feeling less anxious, more relaxed, and overall happier. Also, studies (1) show that 16 weeks of regular exercise is just as effective as anti-depressant medication in treating people who were not exercising previously.
SLEEP: We can put people to sleep during a boring talk on sleep or according to Mayo Clinic (2), “Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster, get better sleep and deepen your sleep.” This is also supported by a national study (3) with more than 2600 people that found meeting the physical activity guidelines of 150 minutes/week provided a 65% improvement in sleep quality.
FINANACIAL HEALTH: So there is no way that exercise can help with financial stressors and decisions, right? Actually, there is evidence (4) that people who exercised regularly had better willpower than those who did not and specifically: “Saved more money” and “Splurged on impulse purchases less.”
Check out these other well-being benefits from the American Heart Association – are any of these goals for your wellness program?
- Helps in the battle to quit smoking
- Keeps weight under control
- Boosts energy levels
- Promotes enthusiasm and optimism
- Increases muscle strength, increasing the ability to do other physical activities
- Reduces fatigue
- Improves quality of life
The bottom line is, you can fill your wellness year with lunch and learns, articles and educational courses on how to lower stress, beat the blues, get better sleep, and budget better, or you can begin to create immediate change tomorrow with an engaging physical activity program.
The evidence is abundant that if we can motivate people to move, there will be a domino effect on their entire well-being.
Director of Wellness Strategy
Sarah has over 10 years of experience helping employers implement engaging wellness programs that drive true positive outcomes.
- Oaten, Megan, and Ken Cheng. "Longitudinal Gains in Self-regulation from Regular Physical Exercise." British Journal of Health Psychology 11.4 (2006): 717-33. 2. McGonigal, Kelly. The Willpower Instinct: How Self-control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It. New York: Avery, 2012