“Different kinds of physical activity shown to improve brain volume, cut Alzheimer’s risk in half.”

Reported by Science Daily and conducted by investigators at UCLA Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh, this is the first study to show that virtually any type of aerobic physical activity can improve brain structure and reduce Alzheimer’s risk.

“A variety of physical activities from walking to gardening and dancing can improve brain volume and cut the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 50%, a new study suggests.”

The potential benefits of a clear path between lifestyle intervention, activity and brain health are staggering.

FIX Health: Newsletter Tip


Grab some blueberries. A Tuft’s University study suggests that eating blueberries may improve or delay short-term memory loss.

SIGN UP FOR THE FIX HEALTH NEWSLETTER

We use MailChimp as our email newsletter platform. By clicking below to submit this form, you acknowledge that the information you provide will be transferred to MailChimp for processing in accordance with their Privacy Policy and Terms.

Posted by FIX in FIX HEALTH Read More

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this infographic speaks volumes.

Sedentary Behavior Infographic

FIX Health: Newsletter Tip


Not eating enough iron can lead to fatigue. Keep your energy up by eating lean meats, oatmeal and lentils.

SIGN UP FOR THE FIX HEALTH NEWSLETTER

We use MailChimp as our email newsletter platform. By clicking below to submit this form, you acknowledge that the information you provide will be transferred to MailChimp for processing in accordance with their Privacy Policy and Terms.

Posted by FIX in FIX HEALTH Read More

Extended sitting causes a myriad of chronic health issues, as we documented in our February report. The very nature of the modern desk-based work day is contributing to dramatic increases in diabetes, heart attacks and cancer in workers across the world.

Fortunately, awareness of the issue is spreading and health-minded people are taking steps to introduce incredibly beneficial micro-breaks into their work days. These “sedentary disruption” activities can take less than 30 seconds, can be completed in work clothes by the desk, and can actually be MORE effective than jogging at offsetting the dangers of sitting for extended periods of time.

Greatest.com has gathered a great compilation of 33 top-notch “deskersises” that can be inserted into the busiest work day. It is well worth reading, sharing, and doing!

Whereas the greatest.com article covers ways for an individual to be less sedentary, there are also solutions that address sedentary behavior across entire companies, such as UtiliFIT.

FIX Health: Newsletter Tip


Take standing meetings. Not only do you get the benefits of movement, but standing generally makes meetings shorter and more to-the-point.

SIGN UP FOR THE FIX HEALTH NEWSLETTER

We use MailChimp as our email newsletter platform. By clicking below to submit this form, you acknowledge that the information you provide will be transferred to MailChimp for processing in accordance with their Privacy Policy and Terms.

Posted by FIX in FIX HEALTH Read More

Nobody likes to be told that they’re doing a bad job, but that’s exactly what the data says about workplace wellness. Statistically speaking, we’re doing a terrible job of taking care of our employees’ health. One need only look at the trends in disease prevalence, healthcare spending, and the gap between healthy behaviors and employees’ actual behavior, and it’s not hard to see that wellness, as we know it, is headed for a fundamental shift.

Not convinced? Let’s take a look at the signals.

1) Our employees are unhealthy… and getting unhealthier.

Picture yourself standing in a room next to 99 of your employees. If you’re in America, here’s what the 100 of you look like, according to the data:

69 of you are overweight
36 of you are obese
67 of you are pre-diabetic
12 of you have diabetes (and 3 of you don’t even know it)
17 of you have high cholesterol
33 of you have high triglycerides
26 of you have cardiovascular disease
19 of you smoke
41 of you will be diagnosed with cancer during your lifetime
62 of you have sleep issues
77 of you struggle with stress
9 of you suffer from depression
95 of you fail to get the minimum amount of exercise recommended by the U.S. Department of Health

Pay attention to that list and you’ll notice how many conditions are interconnected. Weight issues, smoking, sleep, stress, lack of activity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, all inter-related, and many are a direct link to lifestyle and behavior (more on that later).

By any reasonable stretch of the imagination, that’s not a healthy group, and if it pained you to read through that list, brace yourself, because it doesn’t get much rosier from here on. The incidences of many of the above-listed conditions, including the costliest to treat, are growing, not shrinking.

2) We’re not doing enough to meet the rising cost of healthcare.

In the U.S., we spend roughly $8 billion on corporate wellness annually, yet in the same time period…

We spend $125 billion on cancer.
We spend $245 billion on diabetes.
We spend $320 billion on heart disease.

For those keeping track, that’s $690 billion, or about 86x the amount we spend on preventing all health conditions for our employees, just to manage those 3 conditions.

Sedentary Office Workers

Our workforce is becoming more sedentary every year, costing us more and more to treat and insure.

The corporate wellness market is growing at about 5% a year, whereas the cost of healthcare is rising at closer to 6%. On the surface that doesn’t sound so bad, but 5% of $8 billion is pennies compared to 6% of the roughly $3 trillion spent on healthcare. The costs of care are rising at a higher rate than our spending on prevention (and inflation, but that’s another article altogether), and when we combine this trend with signal #1 (our employees’ health is getting worse) we’re faced with the stark reality that our collective efforts to keep our employees healthy is not presently effective enough to maintain parity with the rising costs to treat their health problems, let alone reverse the trend.

… we’re faced with the stark reality that our collective efforts to keep our employees healthy is not presently effective enough to maintain parity with the rising costs to treat their health problems….

As employers, we’re arguably the single entity that’s most invested in the health of the individuals we employ, outside of the individuals themselves. Whether you look at insurance utilization, sick leave, employee productivity or any other metric, when our employees are sick, it costs us. It costs us in both intangible ways (such as team members being absent) and in perfectly tangible ways (unhealthy employees cost more to treat and insure).

For example, a 2008 study found that medical costs for those who are obese are $1429 higher than those of a normal weight. If you have 1,000 employees, and statistically speaking, 36% of them are obese, they’re literally weighing your company’s healthcare utilization down by an additional $514,440 each year. Let that sink in as we move to signal #3.

3) We focus on symptoms rather than behavior.

Take a moment to re-read signal #1 of this article and note how many of those morbid statistics all share a direct link to behavior. Lack of activity, smoking, stress, poor diet; they’re all lifestyle related, meaning that the risks to the chronic diseases associated with them are, at least to some degree, mitigable. This is, ultimately, the lynchpin for both of the above signals.

The CDC has stated outright that chronic diseases are now the #1 threat to American lives, ahead of infectious diseases, and that lack of activity is the #1 contributor to chronic diseases. Lack of activity has been linked to heart disease, obesity, depression, breast cancer, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, anxiety, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, hypertension and all cause mortality, among other maladies. Meanwhile, we, as employers, are paying more and more employees to sit in front of a computer all day, every day, decreasing the amount of activity and increasing the amount of sedentary time for our workforce, year over year.

We’re trending in all the wrong directions. But what are we doing wrong?

If we, as employers, are doing our jobs to keep our employees healthy, how is it that they’re still so overwhelmingly unhealthy, getting more unhealthy, and costing us more every year?

Unhealthy Choices

Wellness will continue to fail until it succeeds in enacting long-term healthy behavior change.

The problem isn’t knowledge. As you read this article you know that smoking is bad for you, but nearly 20% of you still smoke. You know that french fries are unhealthy, but 25% of you still eat fast food on any given day. You know that you should exercise, but 95% of you don’t bother to get off your butts for even the bare minimum recommended by the U.S. Department of Health.

The hard truth is that most companies’ wellness initiatives don’t address long-term behavior change and are, as a result, simply not all that effective. Not for a lack of effort, of course. They may have the right intentions, but the tactics only touch the surface, leaving the underlying behavioral issues to remain or worsen.

It’s this approach to wellness that is confounding signals #1 and #2. We’re simply not doing enough to change the unhealthy behaviors of our employees to keep them from getting unhealthier and costing us more. It’s this combination that will, at some point, come to a head. Whether that’s in the near term or the long term, driven by rising costs or industry innovation, at some point the current state of the industry breaks. Companies who focus on behavioral modification are almost certainly going to be ahead of the curve, with the rest following suit down the road.

Until then, get your pocketbooks ready. This is going to get expensive.

Sources

https://www.drugwatch.com/2015/10/07/cost-of-cancer/
http://www.cdcfoundation.org/pr/2015/heart-disease-and-stroke-cost-america-nearly-1-billion-day-medical-costs-lost-productivity
http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/statsreport14/national-diabetes-report-web.pdf
http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics/2014statisticsreport.html
http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/
http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/Pages/overweight-obesity-statistics.aspx
http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/what-is-cancer/statistics
https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-american-eating-habits
http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2010/05/06/41-percent-of-Americans-will-get-cancer/75711273192042/
http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@research/documents/document/acspc-047079.pdf
http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/cardiovascular_diseases/cardiovascular_disease_statistics_85,P00243/
http://www.ibisworld.com/industry/corporate-wellness-services.html
http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-healthcare-costs-20150922-story.html
http://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/health-care-spending-hike-prediction-120740
http://healthyamericans.org/obesity/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikepatton/2015/06/29/u-s-health-care-costs-rise-faster-than-inflation/#4548e0e76ad2
https://www.plunkettresearch.com/trends-analysis/health-care-medical-business-market/

SIGN UP FOR THE FIX HEALTH NEWSLETTER

We use MailChimp as our email newsletter platform. By clicking below to submit this form, you acknowledge that the information you provide will be transferred to MailChimp for processing in accordance with their Privacy Policy and Terms.

Posted by FIX in FIX HEALTH Read More

In The ROI of Employee Wellness: Part 1, we explored a number of studies that “conclusively” argue that Wellness Programs offer companies measurable returns on investment based on health care savings and improved attendance and performance. Yet Wellness ROI remains a hotly contested topic. Why?

Benefitspro provides a thoughtful analysis of the challenges to ROI which amount to 1) “not enough data”, and 2) challenges to the research methodology. Broadly speaking these objections amount to “I’m just not buying it.”

The article concludes with the quote…

“Whereas significant reductions in health care cost may take time to materialize … well-executed programs appear to improve employee health meaningfully.”

And therein lie the critical words – “well-executed programs.”

Wellness is a very new category for most companies, and many struggle with communicating the value of participation to their staff. Without significant employee participation and retention, there is no meaningful value.

Fortunately, there are Wellness providers that specialize in capturing the imaginations of workplace populations.

FIX, for example, uses gamification in Walking Challenges to consistently achieve record setting levels of program participation and completion.

SIGN UP FOR THE FIX HEALTH NEWSLETTER

We use MailChimp as our email newsletter platform. By clicking below to submit this form, you acknowledge that the information you provide will be transferred to MailChimp for processing in accordance with their Privacy Policy and Terms.

Posted by FIX in FIX HEALTH Read More


A common struggle employers face today is justifying Wellness efforts on the ledger. In the absence of proof of a financial upside, many HR professionals find that they lack the leverage to implement Wellness programs. In this 2-part series we will point to sources for both sides of this challenging topic.


This week the “pros” – significant research projects which point to measurable bottom line benefits from Wellness.

RAND Corporation
“Overall ROI was $1.50—that is, a return of $1.50 for every dollar that the employer invested in the program.”

Harvard Business Review
“[Johnson & Johnson] leaders estimate that wellness programs have cumulatively saved the company $250 million on health care costs over the past decade… the return was $2.71 for every dollar spent.”


And finally, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) weighs in on the “pro” side of the conversation citing both these hard and other soft metrics in this article.


With these highly respected studies supporting the “pro” side of the conversation, what are the objections to employee wellness as a smart investment? We’ll explore the cons next week…

SIGN UP FOR THE FIX HEALTH NEWSLETTER

We use MailChimp as our email newsletter platform. By clicking below to submit this form, you acknowledge that the information you provide will be transferred to MailChimp for processing in accordance with their Privacy Policy and Terms.

Posted by FIX in FIX HEALTH Read More

Fitness Interactive Experience (FIX) and Strategic Health Services (SHS) partner to deliver fitness gaming for SHS wellness program members

Atlanta, Ga. (March 1, 2016) – Fitness Interactive Experience (FIX) and Strategic Health Services (SHS) announce a partnership to bring story-based fitness challenges and day-to-day exercise experiences to SHS wellness members throughout the U.S.

“At FIX, we are passionate about our ability to change behavior and have a direct impact on improving health,” says Mike Tinney, CEO, FIX. “As pioneers of Health Entertainment, we merge fitness, fun, and health to significantly impact an individual’s ability to make positive behavior and lifestyle changes. We are thrilled to integrate our games and programming into such a highly robust wellness solution as offered by SHS.”

“FIX has typically focused on bringing its wellness programs to employees by directly partnering with companies and organizations. In partnering with SHS, we are able to expand the reach of our offering to hospitals and health systems where SHS has extensive client relationships.”

SHS has a comprehensive wellness solution that includes a robust online and mobile portal, targeted health coaching, claims analytics and reporting, and strategic wellness consultation to help employers develop the often elusive culture of wellness so important to growing and sustaining workplace wellness. SHS’s wellness strategy puts hospitals at the center of preventive care and offers a unique reseller platform. Health systems connect with local employers to deliver wellness and develop healthier communities, as well as drive new patients back to their hospital networks.

“We are pleased to expand our wellness solution to employers and members seeking to increase participation and get employees fully engaged in a fun and social environment, and not have to think about exercise as another ‘to do’ item,” says Chris Caramanico, CEO, Strategic Health Services.

Strategic Health Services (SHS) links employers to hospitals by putting the local health system at the center of the health and wellness. Employers reduce their health care costs, hospitals drive new revenues from increased patient volume, and communities get healthier. SHS offers employee wellness, unparalleled sales and marketing outreach support, health coaching, and a comprehensive back office solution. SHS’s private-label technology helps employees change lifestyle-related behaviors, improve health, and sustain long-term health and wellness. Contact Susan Plumer, VP Healthcare Sales, at 847-337-3633, email splumer@strategichealthservices.com or visit www.strategichealthservices.com to learn more.

Fitness Interactive Experience (FIX) was founded on the belief that all aspects of life are enhanced by a healthy lifestyle. FIX develops high quality, interactive games that promote health and daily activity in a fun, socially connected environment. Running on the revolutionary UtiliFIT® Activity Engine, FIX’s A Step Ahead™ walking challenges are sweeping the nation and disrupting the traditionally staid corporate wellness industry with their unique mixture of game design, real-world activity tracking and… zombies. Contact sales@fix-fit.com or visit www.asachallenge.com to learn more.

Posted by FIX in News Read More


CIO.com’s recent report, 9 Ways Corporate Fitness and Wellness Programs Will Change in 2016, covered several topics, including the use of new technology in wellness programs, gamification and social networking, real-time fitness and others.

In analyzing these trends, a clear throughline emerges: fitness wearables are going to continue to be big in wellness.


It’s not hard to see why: fitness wearables offer a reasonably inexpensive, secure way to offer analytic data on employee activity (though some might dispute), there is evidence to show that they aid in wellness initiatives and engagement, and with the global wearables market expected to reach $19 billion by 2018, they are on their way to near-ubiquity.

WHAT’S THE CATCH?

Ok, so wearable devices are in. They provide good metrics at a reasonable cost, help employee engagement, and are poised to be everywhere. What’s the catch?

Data shows that users’ enthusiasm for fitness wearables has a shelf life. As reported by Business Insider, about a third of trackers get abandoned after just six months.

AVOIDING THE DROPOFF

Here’s where the nitty-gritty lies, and where you’ll have to forgive us for diving into a little shameless self-promotion. Wearables are a great way to provide the “what” and “how” to employees (be more active, get more steps), but they fall short on “why.”

The “why” falls on the behavioral spectrum, which is where finding the right programs that make use of wearables becomes important, adding important context (personal health goals, team-based challenge etc.) to the desired behavior (get more steps).

Articles like this one, which outlines 14 ways to improve corporate wellness programs with wearables, are becoming more and more common. Our strategy, on the other hand, is to create games that use fitness wearables to engage employee populations. Interested in learning more? Check out the link below.

FIX Health: Newsletter Tip


Focus on regular movement, not just steps. A mounting body of research shows that even if you get regular exercise, being sedentary for long stretches throughout your day puts you at higher risk for death and disease.

SIGN UP FOR THE FIX HEALTH NEWSLETTER

We use MailChimp as our email newsletter platform. By clicking below to submit this form, you acknowledge that the information you provide will be transferred to MailChimp for processing in accordance with their Privacy Policy and Terms.

Posted by FIX in FIX HEALTH Read More

As more companies seek to integrate preventive wellness into the workplace environment, they are often struggling to find programs that engage and retain the attention of their employees. One of the critical keys to a successful workplace wellness initiative has proven to be Peer Affirmation.

Speaking to Konbini, FIX Founder, Mike Tinney, explains…

“Putting people onto teams means your efforts help not just yourself, but others,” he said. “This leads to peer affirmation moments. Accumulating these successes inside of a game experience creates a sense of ownership and accomplishment that is harder to leave behind and disconnect from.”


The best part is that in addition to building a healthier workplace, team-based wellness programs build stronger personal connections and and a more productive office.

FIX Health: Newsletter Tip


Consider exercising with your spouse. A recent study showed that 43% of couples who exercise separately drop out within the first year of joining a gym, whereas only 6.3% of couples who go to the gym together drop out in the same period.

SIGN UP FOR THE FIX HEALTH NEWSLETTER

We use MailChimp as our email newsletter platform. By clicking below to submit this form, you acknowledge that the information you provide will be transferred to MailChimp for processing in accordance with their Privacy Policy and Terms.

Posted by FIX in FIX HEALTH Read More


In reporting ranging from Forbes to the Los Angeles Times, a startling fact has emerged that affects both businesses and their staff – Sitting is the New Smoking.

“We lose two hours of life for every hour we sit,” writes Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative and inventor of the treadmill desk. “Sitting all day is not natural and is to blame for all kinds of ailments, including obesity”, he says.


There is increasing awareness that many traditional desk-bound careers are shortening the lives of our co-workers. And there are an increasing number of companies that are making moves to address this problem. Encouraging brief hourly sedentary disruption activities is one way to offset these negative health effects, for instance.

FIX Health: Newsletter Tip


Standing up for even a minute or two per hour can drastically reduce your risk for a host of chronic illnesses, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many cancers.

SIGN UP FOR THE FIX HEALTH NEWSLETTER

We use MailChimp as our email newsletter platform. By clicking below to submit this form, you acknowledge that the information you provide will be transferred to MailChimp for processing in accordance with their Privacy Policy and Terms.

Posted by FIX in FIX HEALTH Read More