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The Rise of Workplace Wellness Programs

Blog 161 - Workplace Wellness ProgramsIf you would like to reinvigorate your health and fitness regimens this summer, your office may be able to help. Many businesses have implemented workplace wellness programs, services and activities intended to incentivize healthy behaviors in and out of the workplace, and boost productivity.

Employer-sponsored health plans come in a variety of forms to help workers stick to their health goals. The majority of comprehensive wellness programs focus on preventive health and lifestyle modification, by encouraging employees to increase physical activity, improve eating habits, and reduce stress. Common program features include health education and coaching, weight management programs, medical screenings and on-site fitness programs.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, office wellness programs have become increasingly popular in recent years, growing into an $8 billion industry in 2015, because of the rise of chronic pain and disease in the workplace. Linked to the inactive, sedentary nature of the typical U.S. office, conditions such as depression, hypertension, obesity and back pain are now highly prevalent health issues among employees.

Workplace wellness programs seek to alleviate chronic back pain, in particular, as it is the most common cause of job-related disability. This office epidemic is a result of the health detriments of sitting in a static position throughout the day, which increases stress in the back, shoulders, arms, and legs, and adds large amounts of pressure to the back muscles and spine. Additionally, the natural inclination when sitting for a long period is to slouch over, which can overstretch the spinal ligaments and strain the discs. Wellness programs aim to counteract these issues, by encouraging employees to get up and moving throughout the day, whether by offering lunchtime yoga classes or establishing walking meetings.

Whether or not your office offers a wellness program, you can combat back pain and other work-related health problems, by frequently standing, stretching and moving. Breaking up sitting with physical activity promotes healthy blood flow to bring nutrients to the spinal structures, helps keep the joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons loose, and holds mental health benefits. Try to stand, stretch and walk for at least a few minutes every half hour. If possible, take a twenty-minute walk during your lunch hour.

Does your workplace offer a wellness program? If not, do you make an effort to stay active throughout the day? Tell us about your experiences on Facebook.