There was a study released last year, that prompted our company to make some changes. The results of the study showed, if we rearranged our schedules and got up every hour we would not have less circulation problems – the study revealed that we would have none. The information from the Indiana University Study was empowering, so we dove right in. After that dive, I learned a few things I would suggest implementing before starting a Corporate Wellness Program.
BEFORE STARTING – Make sure there is water in the pool!
1. Keep it simple. Try not to feel overwhelmed, or be overwhelming. A few small changes at a time can be a positive way to not appear overwhelming . A corporation trying to change an individual mind set, may not be appreciated, so try presenting it as a new option your company is offering. Do not overwhelm the company with a lot of new expenses. Make a budget and decide what the company will invest in employee health.
2. Assign a project manager to be in charge of the program.
As the owner or upper management, actively participate in your wellness program. This one shift of responsibility had a very positive impact in our office.
3. Set your goal, and map out your direction. For instance, our goal was to see if wellness could help our office have more productivity and less sick days. Our direction started with information and positive thinking, building on that foundation with the values of exercise, rest and nutrition. We found ourselves a year later in a much healthier place than when we began.
FIVE CHANGES WE MADE AT OUR OFFICE AT THE
BEGINNING OF OUR WELLNESS JOURNEY
1. POSITIVE THINKING: We started with positive thinking, because science keeps releasing more studies showing how much power our thoughts have over our physical body. One of these years we are going to stop being surprised by the research findings and say something like,
“I knew the mind could do that.” Meanwhile, share the studies that surprise people with how much power they have. Keep the sharing simple and relevant.
2. EXERCISE: As a walking company we would go Balance Walking after work, or even have walk meetings during work, but we were still sitting for hours at a time. An enlightening piece of research was released on September 8, 2014 from Indiana University stating if the body stays in a seated position for 60 minutes it results in half the circulation to the legs being cut-off. “The study participants who walked for five minutes for each hour of sitting saw their arterial function stay the same.”(1)
If this is not enough information to scare you straight
out of your chair add a “90% drop in a circulating
blood enzyme called lipase, that is responsible for
breaking down fat. In addition, electrical activity in
our leg muscles radically decrease the longer we sit.”(2)
The empowering part of the article reports, that if you
get up before the clock strikes twelve this impairment
does not happen. The report also made it quite clear
that exercising after work does not affect these results.
The way we chose to incorporate this fact into our office life is that we decreased lunch breaks to half an hour and walk breaks every hour for 5 -15 minutes. By adding poles to the walk we can double the walk benefits in half the time.
3. REST: We did some research and found that the most productive people work for 52 minutes at t a time, then break. Working in bursts with purpose made sense, so we gave it a try. We had a staggered start daily, with everyone being on a different schedule it did not work for us to have the program manager announce 52 minutes. What worked for us was to have each employee come up with their own system. A few associates use a fit bit, one found a solar alarm clock, most employees use their phone. Keep it a simple and flexible reminder to move.
4. NUTRITION: We replaced the soda in the machine with water bottles. It is very important to avoid purified or distilled water, to hydrate properly supply bottles of natural spring water. We have found it to be a good investment to supply a free bowl of nuts for employees to snack on. The protein is a good snacking option, and appetites satiate quickly when they have to do the cracking themselves. We believe the cost of nuts to be offset by people not having to think of a snack. There is a positive impact just knowing the bowl is there. We can grow in the area of nutrition, the office does share healthy food tips, but eating is so personal that currently we just pass along reading suggestions for them to look up after work.
5. BALANCE: In order to start sitting less, we have to start standing more. We must support our foundation. Did you know 90% of all people wear improperly fitted shoes? The right shoes or custom inserts can align the body. This is especially valuable information for corporations that have associates standing for hours at a time. We found Foot Solutions have an expert certified staff that performs the best foot and gait analysis using the most advanced state-of-the-art technology. Call 1-888-FIT-FOOT to see if there is a store near you.
Whatever your office situation is, we at Balance Walking would be happy to help you get a wellness program started. Our program manager said the hardest part was the first week, and she is willing to give free consultations to get people through it. Now that we are up and running, our office is more receptive about new information, which was not the case when we first started. We gave ourselves a pat on the back when a report on RSI (eye strain)came out, telling people who work on computers to focus on something at least 20 feet away every hour to save their eyes. We have been doing that for a year on our walks, before the study was even released.
Our walk meetings have been wildly successful, and adding poles have proven valuable for walk meetings because people are able to look directly at the person they are conversing with. There are many benefits of adding poles during a walk, just one is that they free people from having to look at the ground in front of their feet allowing them to look around and relax the hard working neck and shoulder area. If you have any questions about starting your Corporate Wellness Program, or would like to purchase Balance Walking Poles in bulk for your office, contact information is below. If you would like to save 50% on an order just type ‘halfoff’ in the discount box. Order Poles
References: 1. Indiana University study released on Sept. 8, 2014 “Short walk breaks found to reverse negative effects of sitting” 2. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2012/02/22 3. The University of Illinois.
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