If you’re reading this, we take it you’re a shrewd wellness program administrator. You want the biggest bang for your wellness buckeroos. You demand speedy results. You won’t settle for paltry participation. You insist on seeing productivity gains for the masses. How will you invest your company’s precious dough?
Which engagement tool would you choose (if you could choose only one)?
Of course, you’ve studied our site a tad (and you read the title of this section – doy!), so you know the only possible answer is D. Or, perhaps you vehemently disagree with us, in which case we invite you to set us straight (we love to be proven wrong. Try us.). Otherwise, here’s our supporting soliloquy.
First, we offer a wonderful video, put together by Dr. Mike Evans. Some of you may have seen this. Check it out:
NASA indicates that increasing physical activity by just ½ hour per employee per day will double employee productivity in the final two hours of the day. OK, so now for the part that will surprise you. Since payroll is typically 5 to 6 times greater than health care costs, preventing lost productivity gives you a greater ROI than reducing health care costs (CFO’s rejoice!).
For example, if your average employee earns $50K per year, reducing lost productivity by just 15 minutes per day would result in a savings of $1,562.50 per employee per year. Get employees exercising just ½ hour more per day and your productivity will skyrocket (NASA pun intended).
Without any doubt, physical activity programs generate the greatest excitement and engagement across the broadest cross-section of any population. Does that mean you shouldn’t try to get people to quit smoking? Of course not. But smokers only account for around 20% of your population. 30% of your employees will have to sit on the sidelines if you implement a weight-loss program. However, nearly 100% of your employees can participate in a physical activity campaign. Physical activity programs are fun, competitive, visible, team-oriented, sustainable, and appealing to white collar, blue collar, the young, the old, the couch potatoes and the triathletes.
Cardiovascular fitness is the most reliable predictor of overall health status. This is because the absence of cardiovascular fitness results in the greatest depth and breadth of health risks. You can measure cardiovascular fitness in terms of the volume of oxygen you can process while exercising at maximum capacity. It’s a fancy formula called VO2 max and can be easily calculated at work using a 3-minute step test. Skipping all the mumbo jumbo, getting fit means that your heart pumps more blood per beat, your body gets more efficient at processing oxygen, your blood vessels get larger to allow more blood to flow to tissues, and lots of other wonderful things happen.
The encouraging news about improving cardiovascular fitness is that the least fit people can improve more easily than ultra-fit people! It’s the law of diminishing returns. The less fit you are to start, the faster and further you can improve. Therefore, by measuring the “before’s and after’s” of VO2 max, you can give employees a huge motivational boost by showing them that fitness improves fast. By validating physical activity levels and correlating them to VO2 max scores, you will see that there is a causal relationship between increased activity and improved cardiovascular fitness. Going further, since increasing cardiovascular fitness has the most pronounced effect on improving the greatest number of risk factors, every company should consider adding a VO2 max to its repertoire of testing.
Above all else, physical activity has the most immediate and demonstrable impact on reducing health risks. In fact, increasing physical activity has a stronger correlation to reducing risk of Type II diabetes and Coronary Artery Disease than quitting smoking or improving your nutrition. If you wake up tomorrow and have to choose just one health behavior to practice, your best bet is to go on a brisk ½ hour walk. In fact, you’re better off (shockingly) taking a brisk, ½ hour walk than eating a healthy breakfast or skipping your morning cigarette! It is counterintuitive, yet true, that a slightly overweight smoker who exercises regularly is more valuable, and less costly, to your organization than a thin, non-smoking, sedentary person.
If you’re serious about preventing, and reversing, health risks, the most reliable solution is to install a physical activity program.
Obesity is classified as a disease, but it’s really not. It’s a symptom. Obesity is simply a lagging indicator of poor health decisions previously made. Over-nutrition combined with couch potato-ism is the true problem, which results in the symptom of obesity (and almost every other chronic “disease”). Increasing one’s physical activity attacks the root cause of the problem, resulting in symptom mitigation.
Exercise reduces risks in almost every sliver of the spectrum of identifiable health risks. The beauty is that everyone can benefit from exercise, regardless of demographics, race, creed, genetics, or any cockamamie excuses. If you exercise while continuing to eat the same way, you’ll lose weight. Shazam! Your cardiovascular health will improve. Your insulin sensitivity will increase. Your energy will increase. You’ll sleep better. You’ll even have better, ahem, sexy times (to borrow a phrase from the outrageous movie, “Borat”).
They say you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Ain’t that the truth? Unless you install hidden cameras inside your employees’ pantries, you’ll never know how many canisters of Pringles get devoured by way of top-secret closet-eating.
While we can’t reliably measure nutritional intake, we can accurately and reliably measure physical activity levels. Plus, we can do it wirelessly and automatically, freeing up employees to track activity in a hassle-free, high-tech way.
All they have to do is get moving. Our technology does the rest. You’ll have validated results, allowing you to showcase your sense of good judgment by choosing a program that generates proven physical activity increases across the majority of employees. Your formerly skeptical CFO will hail you as a hero. Employees will thank you! People will be bouncing off the walls. Brace yourself for a frenetic, ultra-engaged work place.