Physical activity is key to improving the health of the United States and its workforce. Did you know that employees who are physically active have lower healthcare costs, require less sick leave, and are more productive at work? Learn more in Physical Activity in the Workplace: A Guide for Employers, on the Center for Disease and Prevention’s (CDC’s)Workplace Health Resource Center.
According to the new Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition, adults need 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity each week, with muscle strengthening activities on2 days during the week to stay healthy.
Physical activity has immediate and long-term benefits to help people feel better, function better, sleep better, and reduce their risk of many chronic diseases.
Resolve to Ramp Up Your Activity
There’s nothing like a new year to make us feel hopeful about healthy changes. You can do more than hope, though. Commit to ramping up your physical activity level. Ask your employer about wellness activities to support your health.
CDC’s Workplace Health Resource Center offers plenty of ideas to help your employer begin or expand an employee wellness program. Need ideas for increasing physical activity, improving nutrition, controlling blood pressure, battling obesity, and managing depression? Check out the Resource Center.
Have a happy and healthy 2019.
State of Montana Employees 'Walk with Ease'
A new CDC report spotlights the success of a Montana workplace health program.
Montana state employees participating in the Walk with Ease program have shown improvements in their arthritis symptoms and their level of physical activity, according to “Self-Directed Walk With Ease Workplace Wellness Program – Montana, 2015-2017,” published recently in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Walk with Ease is a 6-week program offered either in an instructor-led group setting or through a self-directed workbook. Self-directed participants communicate with a trainer by e-mail and walk on their own, reporting weekly activity. The State of Montana Health Care and Benefits Division offers employees a health insurance premium discount as a financial incentive to participate in and complete Walk with Ease.
“Arthritis occurs in 27% of adults in Montana, of whom 50% have activity limitations, 16% have social participation restriction, and 23% have severe joint pain attributable to arthritis,” according to the article. “Physical activity is beneficial in managing arthritis symptoms as well as preventing other chronic diseases. . . . Pain and fatigue decreased significantly at post-test for participants who started with moderate or severe levels, with or without arthritis.”
The major outcome of the program was an improvement in walking minutes at post-test for employees with and without arthritis. Most people starting with walking levels of no or less than 30 minutes per week increased to over an hour at post-test and sustained a level over 30 minutes at 6-month follow-up. Almost 90% of those who started with walking levels of 1 to 3 hours per week, and 72% of those with more than 3 hours, maintained or increased their starting level. A 6-month follow-up showed that most participants had continued walking.
By boosting physical activity, Walk with Ease can increase the health of employees and decrease employers’ risks of cost drivers like obesity, stress, depression, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.