Category Archives: Corporate Health & Fitness

3 Must-Have Health & Fitness Apps For The Busy Business Professional

3 Must-Have Health & Fitness Apps For The Busy Business Professional

BY AMBER MAC

It’s easy to get behind when you’re a busy executive. It’s also easy to get a big behind when you’re a busy executive. Yes, sitting at a desk all day, flying from city to city, and collapsing on the couch as soon as you get home from back-to-back meetings can all contribute to weight gain and a general feeling of unhealthiness. Oh, and let’s not forget the endless vending machine snacking and late work dinners out.

Fortunately, the very technology that is tethering us to our work can also help us to stay in shape. More than 40% of doctors believe that mobile health tech can reduce the number of office visits and more than 80% of doctors currently use smartphone and medical apps in their own practices, according to data released last month from Float Mobile Learning.

With more than 10,000 health care apps on the market distributing an endless amount of free or almost free information, it’s clear that smart working professionals should be in much better shape. After all, the most successful business people are often high achievers, constantly looking for better ways to improve their diets and enhance their exercise routines for more energy at the office. However, with so much time spent focusing on work and so little time to homing in on health, it’s tough to piece together the perfect mobile solution.

To make better food choices and to put physical activity back on top of your to-do list, here are three apps that can ensure you’re ahead on the fitness front.

LoseIt (iOS/Android – FREE)

Most nutritionists and personal trainers will tell you that tracking what you eat and how much you work out is one of the best ways to lose weight and stay healthy. Unfortunately, a paper-based food diary can be a cumbersome method to monitor every snack you have and every step you take. A better answer is LoseIt. This app makes it a cinch to record everything that goes in your mouth, without taking up too much time in your busy day. Just ate a handful of almonds? This mobile download will tell you that 10 of these tasty treats have 69 calories (and it will break down the carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, protein, and more). If you have a weight-loss goal, just enter that number into the app and LoseIt will calculate your daily caloric allowance. The more exercise you do (which you must also track), the more calories the app will “give” you back. If you want to share your LoseIt progress, you can output daily reports (or just keep all your great progress to yourself!).

Fooducate (iOS/Android – FREE)

It’s easy to make bad food decisions when you’re rushing around all day, trying to keep up with a nonstop schedule. Sometimes reaching for that Kashi Protein & Fiber Bar tin your desk might seem like a smart and healthy choice, but you may not know that the Chocolate Almond Toffee variety gets a “D” food grade. Based on the Fooducate app, this product has more than 20% of your daily saturated fat allowance (which, according to information also supplied in this tool, is responsible for bad cholesterol buildup). Instead of making poor food choices, use this app to automatically scan a barcode when you’re shopping for snacks or looking for lunchtime meals or simply do a product search from within the tool. Not only will the app give you the food information you’re searching for, it will also provide healthier recommendations so you can eat better when you’re on the run.

P90X (iPhone, $4.99)

If you’re looking for an intense way to get fit, the P90X exercise routine is getting a lot of mainstream buzz. This new app includes a day-by-day schedule for the popular 90-day home workout program. There are detailed photos and videos to show you how to do each exercise correctly, and a colourful journal to ensure you’re meeting your fitness and diet goals. While this program can be done at home or on the road, there is a significant time commitment of an hour per workout. For business professionals looking at something a little less intense, on the other end of the spectrum is the newly updated Lastics Office Stretch app (iOS/Android – 99 cents). This digital download, which also provides step-by-step videos, is ideal for anyone looking for two- to four-minute stretches that are easily done at the office. This is the perfect mobile companion for anyone who needs a short break from staring at a computer screen or who is stuck on conference calls all day.

[Image: Flickr user Séan Venn]

U.S. Obesity Higher Than Thought

How should obesity be calculated?

The obesity problem in the US may be much worse than previously thought, according to researchers. They said using the Body Mass Index or BMI to determine obesity was underestimating the issue.  Their study, published in the journal PLoS One, said up to 39% of people who were not currently classified as obese actually were.  The authors said “we may be much further behind than we thought” in tackling obesity.  BMI is a simple calculation which combines a person’s height and weight to give a score which can be used to diagnose obesity. Somebody with a BMI of 30 or more is classed as obese.  The US Centers for Disease Control says at least one in three Americans is obese.

Many more?

Other ways of diagnosing obesity include looking at how much of the body is made up of fat. A fat percentage of 25% or more for men or 30% or more for women is the threshold for obesity.  One of the researchers Dr Eric Braverman said: “The Body Mass Index is an insensitive measure of obesity, prone to under-diagnosis, while direct fat measurements are superior because they show distribution of body fat.”  The team at the New York University School of Medicine and the Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, looked at records from 1,393 people who had both their BMI and body fat scores measured.  Their data showed that most of the time the two measures came to the same conclusion. However, they said 539 people in the study – or 39% – were not labelled obese according to BMI, but their fat percentage suggested they were.  They said the disparity was greatest in women and became worse when looking at older groups of women.  “Greater loss of muscle mass in women with age exacerbates the misclassification of BMI,” they said.  They propose changing the thresholds for obesity: “A more appropriate cut-point for obesity with BMI is 24 for females and 28 for males.”  A BMI of 24 is currently classed as a “normal” weight. “By our cut-offs, 64.1% or about 99.8 million American women are obese,” they said.

It is not the first time BMI has been questioned. A study by the University of Leicester said BMIs needed to be adjusted according to ethnicity.  Last year in the BBC’s Scrubbing Up column, nutrition expert Dr Margaret Ashwell advocated using waist-to-height ratio to determine obesity.  She said: “It is a real worry that using BMI alone for screening could miss people who are at risk from central obesity and might also be alarming those whose risk is not as great as it appears from their BMI.”

The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time

Below is great article I saw in the Harvard Business Review about how the constant connection to technology effects your efficiency at work and in our personal lives.

The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time

Written by Tony Schwartz

Tony Schwartz is the president and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of Be Excellent at Anything. Become a fan of The Energy Project on Facebook and connect with Tony at Twitter.com/TonySchwartz and Twitter.com/Energy_Project.

Why is it that between 25 and 50 per cent of people report feeling overwhelmed or burned out at work?

It’s not just the number of hours we’re working, but also the fact that we spend too many continuous hours juggling too many things at the same time.

What we’ve lost, above all, are stopping points, finish lines and boundaries. Technology has blurred them beyond recognition. Wherever we go, our work follows us, on our digital devices, ever insistent and intrusive. It’s like an itch we can’t resist scratching, even though scratching invariably makes it worse.

Tell the truth: Do you answer email during conference calls (and sometimes even during calls with one other person)? Do you bring your laptop to meetings and then pretend you’re taking notes while you surf the net? Do you eat lunch at your desk? Do you make calls while you’re driving, and even send the occasional text, even though you know you shouldn’t?

The biggest cost — assuming you don’t crash — is to your productivity. In part, that’s a simple consequence of splitting your attention, so that you’re partially engaged in multiple activities but rarely fully engaged in any one. In part, it’s because when you switch away from a primary task to do something else, you’re increasing the time it takes to finish that task by an average of 25 per cent.

But most insidiously, it’s because if you’re always doing something, you’re relentlessly burning down your available reservoir of energy over the course of every day, so you have less available with every passing hour.

I know this from my own experience. I get two to three times as much writing accomplished when I focus without interruption for a designated period of time and then take a real break, away from my desk. The best way for an organization to fuel higher productivity and more innovative thinking is to strongly encourage finite periods of absorbed focus, as well as shorter periods of real renewal.

If you’re a manager, here are three policies worth promoting:

1. Maintain meeting discipline. Schedule meetings for 45 minutes, rather than an hour or longer, so participants can stay focused, take time afterward to reflect on what’s been discussed, and recover before the next obligation. Start all meetings at a precise time, end at a precise time, and insist that all digital devices be turned off throughout the meeting.

2. Stop demanding or expecting instant responsiveness at every moment of the day. It forces your people into reactive mode, fractures their attention, and makes it difficult for them to sustain attention on their priorities. Let them turn off their email at certain times. If it’s urgent, you can call them — but that won’t happen very often.

3. Encourage renewal. Create at least one time during the day when you encourage your people to stop working and take a break. Offer a midafternoon class in yoga, or meditation, organize a group walk or workout, or consider creating a renewal room where people can relax, or take a nap.

It’s also up to individuals to set their own boundaries. Consider these three behaviors for yourself:

1. Do the most important thing first in the morning, preferably without interruption, for 60 to 90 minutes, with a clear start and stop time. If possible, work in a private space during this period, or with sound-reducing earphones. Finally, resist every impulse to distraction, knowing that you have a designated stopping point. The more absorbed you can get, the more productive you’ll be. When you’re done, take at least a few minutes to renew.

2. Establish regular, scheduled times to think more long term, creatively, or strategically. If you don’t, you’ll constantly succumb to the tyranny of the urgent. Also, find a different environment in which to do this activity — preferably one that’s relaxed and conducive to open-ended thinking.

3. Take real and regular vacations. Real means that when you’re off, you’re truly disconnecting from work. Regular means several times a year if possible, even if some are only two or three days added to a weekend. The research strongly suggests that you’ll be far healthier if you take all of your vacation time, and more productive overall.

A single principle lies at the heart of all these suggestions. When you’re engaged at work, fully engage, for defined periods of time. When you’re renewing, truly renew. Make waves. Stop living your life in the gray zone.

Businesses Pay Hefty Costs for Employees With Diabetes

Saw this article in the Baton Rouge Business Report and thought I’d share.

Uncontrolled diabetes is costing companies both in Louisiana and nationwide an average of $20,000 in medical costs per employee per year, while controlled cases of the disease cost about $10,000 per worker annually, says Dr. Tim Church, director of preventive medicine at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. (CLICK HERE for the rest of the article)

Article in DIG Magazine

Big thanks to DIG Magazine for the incorpoprating me into their fitness article. High Five!

http://digbatonrouge.com/article/work-it-good-4602/

Work it Good

Employers take a role in office fitness

By Kendra R. Chamberlain

Published February 29, 2012

No matter what you think about ObamaCare, no one can argue that healthcare costs are very high right now.

Health insurance has quickly become a no-win situation for both employees and employers. No one wants to foot the ever-increasing bill for insurance coverage.

Here in Baton Rouge, one man has a great solution. Denver Benton helps companies develop corporate wellness programs that both benefit employees and reduce healthcare costs for the employer.

“I think all companies can be more active in their employees’ health,” Benton said in an interview last week. “Because that’s their bread and butter – their employees.”

Benton is part of a growing national trend in corporations to tackle healthcare through prevention. From offering yoga classes at lunch to building a weight room in the basement, more and more business are taking an active role in the health of their employees – and the employees are loving it.

Developing a wellness program

Benton has been developing personal wellness programs for a while. He’s a professional running coach, a fitness consultant, and he teaches the occasional fitness class. About a year and a half ago, Benton turned his attention, and skill set, to corporations.

“There’s such a need for corporate wellness programs,” he said. “Most places don’t offer anything to their employees. I saw a need for it.”

Benton said he first became interested in the idea when a friend of his working at Albermarle approached him.

“They wanted to provide more to their employees, more than just a discount at the gym,” he said.

He sat down with Maria Rowland, communications program manager at Albermarle Corporation, and head of the wellness committee there.

“We started the emphasis on wellness, just because of healthcare costs,” Rowland said.

“We started bringing in [Benton] to do boot camp.”

Benton primarily establishes a fitness program for the company that employees can easily manage.

“Whether they want someone to come in and do yoga twice a week, or they want a running coach to come in and do a half marathon class. I just do the logistics of that,” he explained. “You sit down with people, and you say, ‘What do you want to do?’ and I tell them what’s doable and what’s not doable. Most things are doable, more than they even imagine. Then, I help them to build a program around what they want.”

The response he has gotten over the past year has been outstanding.

“About a year and a half, I’ve been working with a good bit of business around town,” he said. “It takes a little while to develop the programs. I might take one company for like a month. I’m working with about five or six companies right now.”

Getting employees to use it

A corporate wellness program is only as good as the number of employees that use it.

“The key to all of this if you can have it convenient to the employees, they’ll do it,” said Rowland.

Keeping employees engaged can be just as challenging as the workouts themselves. Albermarle’s program uses wellness challenges – contests that incentivize staying active, eating healthfully and losing weight.

For example, the company hosts eight-week rounds of challenge. Employees get points for how many pounds they lose during the round, or how many fruits and vegetables they eat every day. The wellness program incorporates group activities with personal challenges, allowing individuals to choose how they participate. Employees can compete as “floors” – as in the employees on the second floor are competing against the other floors to get the most points.

“The group aspect has really worked,” Rowland said. “At both sites we do our challenges at the same time, and last year, both sites lost together over 700 pounds.”

The program has also shifted attention to employee nutrition, and even what types of foods are offered in the break rooms.

Rowland said that her committee uses visual cues to keep people focused on what they eat – like displaying the amount of sugar in a candy bar in a bowl.

“It’s all about what it’s home with people – when you see that much sugar.”

Rowland said her committee is also looking at making sugary items in the vending machines more expensive, to discourage poor snack choices.

“Employee nutrition our main thing,” Rowland said. “It’s great that we loose all this weight, but we got to keep it off.”

Albermarle’s wellness program has become a great model for other companies to look to. The program is widely successful, the employees are becoming healthier and healthier, and they’ve even organized their own marathon events for employees.

It is catching on,” Rowland said. “It started out just me and the nurse, and now we have a whole committee.”

Not just for the Fortune 500s

Corporate wellness programs have recently trended across the country for larger corporations, and companies in Baton Rouge are finally beginning to hop on the bandwagon.

“I’m the only person in the last few years to do it [here],” Benton said. “It’s just that companies are now ready to do it. I guarantee, give it a year and a half, there will probably be other people getting involved.”

Wellness programs aren’t just for fortune 500 companies, either. In 2010, the federal government offered up $200 million to help small business develop and implement their own wellness programs. The grant, will be administered over five years, targets business with fewer than 100 employees and that didn’t have a wellness program in place. The program also will allow employers to offer reward payments of up to 30 percent of the cost of insurance coverage to workers who participate in the wellness program, and even meet certain health goals.
“It’s an evolving thing,” Benton said.

As mentioned above, there are pretty significant savings to be had in health care costs. That’s something that makes wellness programs interesting to both small business and larger, national companies.

“It helps you reduce your company’s healthcare costs, and it helps your employees see that you care,” Benton said. “If you’re doing a wellness program, you’re doing it because you want people to be healthy and happy. Everybody needs one, they just don’t know where to start.”

Five reasons to get fit for work

If you are lucky enough to work for a company that offers a wellness program, take advantage!

Here’s why:

• Beat the 2:30 p.m. valley: Don’t you hate it when you drink a pot of coffee and are still falling asleep at your desk after lunch? Work out more, and you will be less tired (and probably drinking less coffee).

• Get sick less often: We all know what that means: more “sick” days that are actually fun days.

• Look Good. There’s nothing worse for your ego than the old desk-job derriere. Work it off and flaunt it at happy hour.

• Look good to your boss: You’ll earn major brownie points for being a team player – even outside of the office.

• Make new friends! A team challenge is a great way to get to know your coworkers better, and even to make some after-hours friends.

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