I read an article today titled, “Healthy Employees Improve Bottom Lines”. I was excited to read it; because of course I completely agree and always love to hear how organizations are using wellness programs to improve their overall business. The company, discussed in the article, had a tough population with people whose jobs required them to sit for long periods of time. I was impressed with their creativity rewarding people who actually used the program and met their goals. Good thinking!
What was disappointing was the fact that the wellness program was unsustainable. It was solely based on walking. Granted, walking for those who are sedentary all day is fantastic. However, plateaus happen quite quickly. We can’t walk all day, everyday but that is eventually what we would have to do to avoid a plateau. Additionally, studies show that diet plays an even bigger role in weight loss. Not to say exercise is not important because it very much is. But understand you must burn more calories than you consume to lose weight, and it takes more effort than you think to burn a lot of calories. To put things in perspective, a person only burns 2600 calories running a marathon. Experts say, “You can’t out run a poor diet”.
With all that being said, a sustainable wellness program has to have other components such as nutritional guidance and exercise plans that meet the participant where they are and grow with them to avoid plateaus. Not to mention, your employees who run, bike, and swim are going to laugh at a walking program. A wellness program has to be flexible enough to meet your healthier employees where they are too. Wellness isn’t just for the unhealthy. Wellness is a long-term behavior change that can continually grow and improve. Even your healthiest employee can learn new ways to eat better or exercise more efficiently.
So, although a walking program will benefit some of your employees for a period of time, be sure you are thinking about all of your employees and their needs. Think about the importance of a healthy diet and the impact it has on weight loss. Think about how your program will grow with your employees as they grow in their health. Once you have this down you are on your way to a sustainable wellness program. Now you can add other components such as smoking cessation and stress management. Before you know it you will have a robust, comprehensive, sustainable wellness program that positively impacts your whole work environment for years to come.
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