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Low Cost Ways to Reduce Risk of Heart Disease in the Workplace

February 8, 2016

darlene_sullivanWe all know that heart disease is the number one killer of Americans today.  But, did you know that someone has a heart attack every 43 seconds or $108.9 billion is spent on this disease alone? According to the CDC, 1 in 4 Americans will have a heart attack this year. Even though these statistics are frightening there is good news.

There is staggering evidence that eating a healthier diet and increasing physical activity on a regular basis can reduce your risk of heart disease. These two behaviors alone can cut down on the other risk factors of hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity.  Since employees spend most of their waking hours in the workplace, it is the perfect place to provide ways to educate and motivate individuals to live a healthier lifestyle.  According to Wendy Pernerewski, CEO & Founder of Employee Health Management, you can implement the following health strategies at little to no cost for your employees. Start with one or two strategies and communicate them often.  Wellness communication is key to the success of your employees engaging in your programs.  Build upon the success of the initial strategies by adding more and making sure the C-suite is involved in the communication. This in turn will create that culture of health we’ve all been hearing about.

Physical Activity: 

  1. Is there an area around your office building that is safe to walk? Create a walking map and mileage to post for employees.
  2. Encourage employees to take the stairs instead of the elevator with posters about how many calories they can burn when they choose the stairs.
  3. Walking Meetings are great way to keep people moving and productive. Keep their creative juices flowing with fresh air on a nice day.
  4. No on-site fitness center? No problem! Negotiate a corporate discount with the local YMCA or gym. Encourage your employees to take advantage of this discount.
  5. Leverage the American Heart Association Walking Program for individuals to have a way to track their physical activity and see their progress.

Healthy Eating:

  1. Work with your vending machine vendor to provide healthier choices.
  2. Onsite cafeteria can provide a healthy option for the day along with calorie content appleof each choice.  People tend to make better choices when they see the amount of calories the plate of french fries has versus the fruit salad.
  3. Provide healthier meeting snacks.  Skip the usual bagels, muffins and pastry and bring on the fruits, nuts, yogurt, cheese and vegetables with hummus.
  4. Invite Weight Watchers to provide onsite workshops and weekly weigh-ins.
  5. SuperTracker from the USDA can be used by employees to learn more about healthy eating and track the types of foods and calories they are eating.

There are numerous ways to start engaging employees in better healthy to reduce their risk of heart disease without breaking the bank.  If you create awareness around prevention, motivate individuals to engage and provide an opportunity to practice these new skills, your company can be successful.

Darlene Sullivan

Group Benefits Account Manager

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