Is the 9-to-5 grind slowly destroying workers' health? Despite the growing trend toward sedentary lifestyles, Americans in the workforce are actually healthier than you might think, according to a new report by TotalWellness, a company that offers biometric screenings and assistance with corporate wellness programs. But more steps can be taken toward achieving better health — and employers can play a significant role in that.
For the study, TotalWellness performed screenings on 85,000 employees in various occupations to determine the health of working people across the country. The screenings looked at five key health metrics: cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, waist circumference and BMI.
The majority of employees screened fell into the optimal range for total cholesterol (77 percent), blood sugar or glucose levels (85 percent), and waist circumference (64 percent). However, only 36 percent of participants were within the normal blood pressure range: Half showed pre-hypertension, and 11 percent showed stage 1 hypertension, which can damage blood vessels over time. [See Related Story: 10 Ways Your Job May Be Bad for Your Health]
BMI measurements also varied, with just under 30 percent of screened employees falling within the "normal" range. The rest of the study participants has BMIs within the "overweight" range (34 percent), the "obese" range (29 percent) and the "extremely obese" range (7 percent). This means that more than 70 percent of the people surveyed were above the healthy weight range for their height, and may have an increased risk of related health issues, such as hypertension and diabetes, the study's authors said.
In light of other studies showing a decline in overall American health, TotalWellness researchers were a little surprised at how well employees scored across the board. They believe the positive tilt could have occurred because people who are comfortable with their health are more likely to attend a screening in the first place.
Encouraging wellness at work
Employer-sponsored wellness programs can go a long way toward encouraging workers to lead a healthy lifestyle. According to a study by researchers at Cornell University, successful programs start at the top, and manager buy-in can lead to greater employee participation.
Based on the screening results, TotalWellness advised employers to focus their wellness initiatives on the following areas:
- Preventive care. This includes seeing their doctor regularly, managing health conditions, and staying up-to-date on vaccinations.
- Healthy eating. Employers should talk about the importance of a balanced diet, and also encourage employees to eat healthy not only at work but all the time.
- Physical activity. Use your wellness program to get people moving by implementing walking workstations or standing desks. However, if those are not within your budget, you can educate employees on the importance of getting physical activity throughout the day.
- Rounded healthy lifestyles. Health goes beyond diet and exercise. Mental and emotional health, financial wellness and social support are all part of a healthy lifestyle. Make this part of your workplace's wellness program, or provide your employees with information on those topics.
Having this information easily accessible to employees can help them achieve these goals, TotalWellness representatives said.
For more healthy habits that can improve your overall well-being and your productivity at work, check out this Business News Daily article.