Laughter: Enemy of Stress

Everyday problems, like work pressure and family responsibilities, can get us down and cause unnecessary stress. Stress isn’t always a big deal. But chronic stress can lead to serious medical conditions such as high blood pressure or heart attack.

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Many studies have suggested that a good laugh may be the key to decreasing elevated stress levels. Apart from improving your emotional wellbeing, a giggle here and there can have a great impact on your mental and physical health. Laughter increases your breathing rate, increasing your intake of oxygen, which stimulates parts of your body like your heart, lungs and muscles. Laughter also releases endorphins—responsible for pleasure and euphoria—into your brain. We all know that laughter is contagious. But more importantly, it induces a state of relaxation while reducing your stress and tension. Here are a few tips to help you laugh off that stress!

Try laughter therapy!

You can try it at home yourself or with a group of family and friends. There are many classes for laughter therapy available, so find the one that works for you and make it a part of your schedule.

Include humour in your everyday life!

Take the time to read those jokes that your friends forward you or watch a funny video on your Facebook newsfeed! Don’t shy away from laughing! There’s something funny for everyone!

Socialize!

Spend time with your most lighthearted friends and share some fun memories from the past. Laughter is contagious and spending time with people who make you smile is one of the best things you could do for yourself. Spending time with kids can also do the trick; they are experts at being silly making people laugh!

 

Laugh at yourself!

Learning to laugh at ourselves is also really important. Don’t take yourself too seriously! Make other people laugh then join in on the laughter at your own jokes. This can be an amazing way of cheering yourself up and maybe even give your confidence a boost!

It is often said that laughter is the best medicine. Maybe in time we’ll start believing it. There is nothing as simple and as natural as laughter when it comes to reducing stress. So, keep smiling!

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The Benefits of Eating Pumpkin this Fall

Now that the Fall is in full force, pumpkin has made its long awaited comeback, and while you may only be familiar with delectable pumpkin treats such as pumpkin pies and pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin has far more to offer that just its sweet desserts. Its vitamin-rich flesh also has an abundance of health benefits, including better quality sleep, weight loss, and increased vision.

If cooked correctly, pumpkin is actually one of the healthier foods of the season, which is why we’ve noted some amazing health benefits of pumpkin to kick start your obsession this fall.

 

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Weight Loss

Mashed pumpkin has only 50 calories per cup and 3 grams of fiber, whilst pumpkin seeds have about 1.7 grams of fiber per ounce. Fibre helps you to feel fuller for longer which will assist in the prevention of over eating.

 

Increased Vision

Just one cup of pumpkin contains almost twice the recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Vitamin A improves your vision and has also been found to slow the decline of retinal function in those with retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disease that can eventually lead to blindness. Vitamin A has also been proven to help maintain healthy skin, teeth and bones.

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Better Sleep Quality

Have you ever wondered why you feel so sleepy after a big slice of pumpkin pie at thanksgiving dinner? Well, pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan, which is the amino acid that contributes to sleepiness. It also helps the body make serotonin, which assists in feeling a sense of relaxation. So not only will you be sleeping better, you will also experience and improvement in mood.

 

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With pumpkin’s high fibre content, it also helps to protect your heart. A recent Harvard study of over 40,000 male health professionals found that those who ate a diet high in fibre had a 40% lower risk of coronary heart disease, compared to those who ate less fibre.

 

                                                      Boosts your Immune System

boost-immune-systemPumpkin can help you fight off that pesky cold or flu that often comes hand in hand with fall. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 11 milligrams, or nearly 20% of the 60 milligrams the IOM recommends women need daily, whilst men should aim for around 75 milligrams.

 

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Trista Chan is a Client Services Associate at Optimity.  She leverages her education in nutrition and experience in corpoate health to guide organizations in building healthy, engaged employees.  Her “me-time” activities include yoga, reading health blogs, cooking….did she mention she likes wellness?  Her passion for all things health-related shines through in both her work and personal life.  

How Optimity Helped Me Lose Weight!

I got in touch with one of our Optimity users over the week and asked how Optimity has played apart in their life. Today I’m joined by Stephanie, who has been an Optimity user since early 2017, to share her user experience.

Hi, I’m Stephanie, and I’m really happy to be able to share my health journey with everyone.  I’m 24 years old and Optimity helped me get healthy during my last year of University! Growing up I’ve always been a little bit “bigger”. It was normal for me to think being overweight was genetics and there was no way around it. So I ate the same food my family was eating, which obviously didn’t help because they were on the heavy spectrum. It wasn’t until I was in middle school that I realized that I was heavier than my other friends.

I went through some high and lows throughout my teen year because of my weight, I always felt a little insecure about the way I looked. It also didn’t help that my relationship with food wasn’t all that great. I had tried different dieting techniques, and weight loss programs but would just give up easily and the weight would come back on. I have unhealthy parents and I could see their health deteriorating as they got older with their unhealthy habits.   

I decided it was about time I did something about how I looked, but more importantly, how I felt inside. I didn’t want to get old and regret not trying to improve my overall health when I had the opportunity. I’d tried a lot of fad diets and the newest gadgets and they were great at first, until I would quit or stop using them. My biggest problem was about keeping a sustainable healthy lifestyle, with constant tips and reminders to stay on target with my goals. I was in this for the long run and I needed something that would help me continuously improve my health.

It was about a year ago when I had a friend introduce me to Optimity, I never took it seriously at first, it was just a great tool that provided me with useful notifications to help me build healthier habits and had a huge library of content. It wasn’t until a quarter way through the year that I noticed I developed a lot of new habits and I was actually losing weight! I was sitting in the library one night studying when I got a sudden urge to get a snack, and the old me would have went straight to the vending machine but instead, I walked to the nearby cafeteria to buy myself a yogurt parfait and some water! Who would have thought that I would one day walk right past the vending machine. It was then that I realized all those small quick activities I was doing from the Optimity app actually helped me develop new nutritious habits and help curb my usual unhealthy snack cravings. Thanks Optimity!

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Tasneem: Wow! That honestly so amazing I’m so happy for your healthy progress and that Optimity was able to help you on your journey. Can you share some of your top activity packs that really helped you get to where you on now?

Stephanie: Ya for sure! So time was a big issue for me, I was still in school and working at the same time so I really utilized the activity packs that I could have done from anywhere and that were quick. My top 3 activity packs that I would highly recommend is: 60 Second Workout, Eat well, and Energize With food. These 3 are my holy grail activity packs, they made me squeeze in quick workouts literally anywhere, even when I was sitting in one of my lectures, I would do seated leg raises. The last 2 activity packs really helped me improve my relationship with food, I no longer looked at unhealthy food as “bad” it just became high calorie, low nutritious food. This outlook helped me figure out which food worked for me and when.

Tasneem: Thanks so much for all that Stephanie, I’m really happy you’re in a healthier place now and are happy with your experience with Optimity!

 

We’d love to hear from you! If you’d like to share your experience with using Optimity and how it impacted your life, please reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com.

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Not yet a user? Sign up now to join people like Stephanie and the rest of the Optimity Community to start getting healthier and claiming free rewards along the way!  

Exercising in the Fall

Keep up your exercise routine when the weather gets colder

Posted by Jeff Cai

TIME STAMP: 2 MINUTE READ

The summer months make exercising enjoyable and definitely a lot more motivating, but as soon as the weather start to plummet we often just want to head inside in front of the fire and curl up. Unfortunately, this isn’t the best for our health or exercise routine.

Exercising in the fall isn’t all bad, and can actually be a nice change compared to the warm summer months. The fall is the perfect time to ramp up your exercise routine with the holidays approaching, which can be perfect for your motivation levels. To inspire you to keep up your exercise routine in the fall, here are 4 tips to help.

1. Start walking everywhere

Fall weather, whilst a little colder is the perfect time to take in the scenery, colours and smells of nature. If you’re only a few blocks away from your destination, opt for taking a walk rather than driving. Once you start walking, you’ll not only warm up, but you will be so distracted by your surroundings that you’ll forget you’re even exercising. You could even carry around a spare set of shoes for if you choose to walk to or from the office.

2. Dress for the weather

When the weather gets colder it can deter you from going outside, let alone exercising! But there’s an easy fix for this. Invest in some new, warmer exercise clothes and dress in layers. The new exercise clothes will motivate you to exercise more frequently, and keep you warm at the same time. Items such as gloves or a scarf work wonders in keeping you warm, and are easy to take off and carry when you start to work up a bit of a sweat.

3. Turn your house work in to a workout

According to a study done by Harvard Health, a 155-pound person can burn 149 calories just by raking leaves for 30 minutes! By turning your indoor and outdoor chores in to a workout, you can burn fat without even knowing it. Put on some music, some workout clothes and start cleaning!

4. Exercise Inside

If you really don’t want to go outside in the cold, or you have a few rainy days, why not bring your workout inside? There are so many fat burning exercises and workouts you can do from the comfort of your living room. Invest in a set of workout DVD’s or search YouTube for a workout that interests you. There are so many workouts available online that you can do in a small space, you just need to find what you like.

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Fall Forward this Season With These Top 3 Health Tips

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It’s that time of the year again, sweater weather…but also “pumpkin spiced” flavored everything. I’m a huge fan of summer just like the rest of you, but there’s nothing I enjoy more than a cozy sweater and a nice warm drink in hand. But sometimes do you feel like you’re wearing more than just an extra layer of clothing? Your “current” fall routine might actually be doing you more harm than good. Do you wake up some morning feeling a little more sluggish than usual or find that your clothes fit a little more snug each day as it gets closer to the winter holidays?

If that sounds familiar or you nodded your head to some (or all) of those, don’t worry, you’re not alone! Here are the top 3 reasons for why some people tend to gain weight with the season change, and our tips on how to keep it off!

1.Exercise

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I will admit, it’s so much nicer to exercise when the weather is nice out, when the colder months hit, people tend to shy away from the outdoors and would rather stay inside and curl up on the couch with a warm drink and watch some t.v. Hey, that’s normal, that’s pretty much me every Sunday morning, but consistent days in with lack of exercise can add on the extra weight. Now I’m not asking you to run marathons here (although that would be nice), but as difficult as it is, I think it’s great to continue some of your outdoor exercises. Find yourself a walking buddy to join you (that way they’ll keep your mind off the colder winds) and if the “great outdoors” isn’t going to help you get fit, I suggest doing some indoor exercises you can do anywhere, be it the office or your living room couch. Check out this blog for some simple suggestions on how you can slip in a workout on a busy day, or check out the “desk-ercise” activity pack in the Optimity app

2.Nutrition

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I don’t know about the rest of you, but when the cold weather hits, comfort food pops right into my head, there’s nothing like food that warms up your insides. But oddly enough, after I’ve finished chugging down a mug of hot chocolate I end up rather uncomfortable with the aftermath of my sugary drink. Sometimes, comfort food can just be food with no nutritional benefits & extra calories. Check out the Optimity app for some simple healthy recipe ideas as well as great substitutes for some of your unhealthy treats. Comfort food is only great when shared with others, because really, what is comfort food? It’s food that evokes fond memories for you, so be sure to enjoy your (healthy) meal with friends and family, to make it that much more enjoyable.

3.Sleep

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Adequate amounts of sleep is essential to function properly throughout the day. However, sleeping in gets so much easier when the weather gets colder, days are shorter and nights are longer, so it’s a lot harder to get out of bed and get into the mood of doing something fun and physical outside. The sun’s still out there, so the best thing to do is get on (or invest in) a weather appropriate set of clothes and get ready to tackle the day. This way you’re still getting in some Vitamin D, and squeezing in some physical exercise throughout the day!

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Don’t let the colder months deter you from getting your wellness fix, enjoy the outdoors, and refer to your Optimity app to help you make the small (yet very impactful) changes you need throughout the day, helping you lead to an overall better lifestyle change.

Not yet an Optimity user? Don’t fret, sign up here to start getting healthier and claiming free rewards along the way!   

Social Connectedness and Its Impact on Diet

TIME STAMP: 1 MINUTE READ

Posted by Trista Chan

There’s no question that building and nurturing relationships can bring joy and overall feelings of happiness.  What many overlook is that it can also promote better physical health, a lower chance of developing mental illnesses, and increased job opportunities.

Research has shown that belonging to a social group and being socially connected with others can change your health in terms of diet and exercise. The idea of eating as a form of socializing is not groundbreaking, but many overlook the fact that who you eat with has a significant impact on the types of food you eat, and your overall diet.  Food and social interaction are deeply embedded in us from birth, and without realizing it, our bodies and minds change our diet based on the people around us.  For example, Females tend to eat less calories when they are with men as opposed to women, and both males and females have been known to eat less when they are in front of a stranger.  As a generalization, people tend to mirror their eating partners’ portions, and eat more when in larger groups!

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The big question in all of this is, why? Why do our eating habits change based on who we are with and the social relationship we have with them? There are a number of reasons, and the first is our cultural attitude. In Western society, women are expected to consume less, and its ingrained from a young age.  Thus, they may subconsciously eat less in front of people they want to impress, and similarly, men may eat more in front of friends that they want to impress.

In conclusion, our relationships and the people that we spend the most time with definitely have an impact on the food choices we make and directly correspond with our overall wellbeing. So, whether you are single, married, or trying to impress someone, make sure to pay attention to how much you are eating. Take a moment to think about your surroundings and what exactly you’re about to eat, to not get swept up in the social aspects of the meal. Because why you may be heavily influenced by your surroundings, you are also able to control your own behaviours when it comes to diet and wellbeing.

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The State of Affairs with Engagement for Corporate Wellness Programs

Posted by Jane Wang 
Your people are your corporate competitive advantage. Most progressive leaders are actively investing in employee wellness. However, despite the amount of work that goes into implementing on-site and digital wellness programs, most corporate initiatives fail to engage 3 out of 4 employees. Let’s spend a little time dissecting what is happening and offer some food for thought.

The Gallup RAND Health Workplace Wellness Study has shown only 24% of employees at companies that offer wellness programs actually participate.We surveyed 200 professional services employees and there were many reasons why they didn’t participate in the 5K runs, yoga classes, & other wellness initiatives. The top 6 themes are:

  • not aware of the program
  • there was a lack of incentives to sign up
  • activities offered were not interesting to them personally
  • don’t have time
  • don’t know how to access the program
  • no one else is doing the program (lack of a wellness community)

More from the RAND study: Over 85% of companies offer some form of wellness program, with awareness levels with often less than 60% of employees.  40% of the employees who are aware, actually a sign up; and 30-40% of those who sign up end up not logistically able to show up to the actual events because of work priorities.

With another 10-40% simply forgetting, depending on the internal marketing efforts of the wellness champions on the day off, it is no surprise that companies with 200-1000 employees can’t get more than 50 people to any wellness event.
Health costs are rising, mental health and financial wellness training sessions coming up… it is time that you drive a paradigm shift in how you engage your employees in health & wellness.  Here are 3 quick tips on how to lead a movement of wellness and positively impact the bottom-line for your organization.
1. Build Momentum
Before launching or updating your wellness program this year, ensure that you take the opportunity to build awareness with 100% of your employee-base.Reach out to employees a couple of weeks prior to the launch date with on-site posters, email memos,  newsletters and on-site media outlets. A message, short video or presentation from your CEO, senior leadership or HR team supporting the program is always positive PR internally and externally. Remember to always add a call-to-action to each piece of your awareness campaign.
2. Make it Universal
Deliver wellness to your employees wherever they are. Design your program with context  and environment in mind.Leverage common technology they are already using, such as their mobile phone or computer. Provide practical activities that employees can fit into their 9-to-5, such as reminders to grab a drink of water, instructions for quick back stretches, and challenges to meditate for 60 seconds. These effective micro-actions are known to boost health & productivity, and can be quite engaging for even the most sedentary of office-potatoes.
3. Recognize Employees’ Individual Efforts
The majority of your employee base already use consumer health apps and wearable devices for activities tracking such as step counting, exercise logging, or nutrition journalling. Why not align your employees’ individual efforts to your organizational goals?If a fitbit is too restrictive in function or too expensive, Optimity also offer a great array of fitbit alternatives such as Apple Watches with more functionality, directly integrated with calendars or Optimity Mi Bands at just $30/band and with a 30-day battery life until the next recharge!
Recognize the activities they are already doing with your wellness platform’s points and prizes. We can connect your community by uniting them onto the same platform and gamify their work experience.Companies that employ this strategy has 2-5x more people participate in their programs!

 

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