5 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes

November is National Diabetes Month. It’s an opportunity to raise awareness for a chronic diseases that affects millions of people worldwide. It’s surprising how little people and companies knows about the condition, and how to prevent it, and how to incorporate diabetes awareness into in the workplace.

While diabetes costs an individual considerably higher health care fees, it can also cost a company more money to keep, and look after employees with the disease. Not only is diabetes a completely preventable disease, with about 9 out of 10 cases being easily avoided, but there are also some very easy ways to ensure you prevent diabetes effecting you.

Here are 5 simple steps you can take to prevent diabetes:

 1. WATCH YOUR WEIGHT

Although not everyone that develops type 2 diabetes is overweight, the majority are. The more visceral fat (fat around your midsection) you carry, the larger your risk of developing diabetes.

Studies show that losing a small amount of weight can help reduce your risk, and that the more you lose, the more benefits you will experience. Losing just 5kg over several years can reduce your risk of developing diabetes by 50%!

There are many options for losing weight, but the easiest one is to simply watch your portion sizes and add more vegetables into your meals. Choosing a way of eating that you can maintain long term is the key to succeeding with weight loss.

2. CUT THE SUGAR

 Did you know that in 2001, sugar represented more than 10% off the calories consumed by Canadians? Imagine what it represents now, in 2017! This sugar can be hard to identify, as the industry uses so many different names for sugar in labels, so be sure to always check your food labels for hidden nasties. The names you’re looking out for are sucrose, dextrose, fructose-enriched corn syrup, glucose-fructose, malt syrup, etc. These are all different ways to say sugar, and the closer these items are to the top of the ingredients list, the more the product contains.

3. ADD SPICES

An easy and interesting way to prevent Type 2 diabetes is to add more spices in to your diet. Spices such as cinnamon can actually improve glucose tolerance and even has the ability to restrict the amount of glycation products that damage the blood vessel linings.

 Other spices that can be instrumental in the prevention of diabetes are seasonings such as black pepper, thyme and turmeric. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory activity helps to reduce the damage caused by a sugar surplus in the cardiovascular system. So instead of using sugar or salt in your meals, opt to use spices and seasonings to add flavour in to your cooking.

4. NOT ALL FATS ARE THE SAME

Fat is not all bad, but there are definitely different types of fat that should be consumed less to prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes. Certain saturated fats are known to promote inflammation, indirectly causing insulin resistance, but the main fat in olive oil actually has an anti-inflammatory action, provided that you’re having it cold and not heating it in a pan.

Don’t avoid fats all together, instead, include fats like nuts, avocado and any omega – 3 fats to keep you healthy.

5. DITCH SMOKING

Apart from the fact that smoking, and even second-hand smoke can be linked to type 2 diabetes, smoking has also been proven to contribute to many health conditions, including heart disease, lung cancer, and emphysema. In a study of over 1 million people, smoking was proven to increase your risk of diabetes by a massive 44% in average smokers and 61% in people who smoked more than 20 cigarettes per day.

Researchers have found that even though people can gain weight after quitting smoking, after a couple of years off of the cigarettes, their risk of diabetes was considerably lower.

As an employer, you play a huge role in the lives of your employees. This presents a great opportunity to promote the awareness of the risks associated with diabetes. By supporting your employees in leading a healthier lifestyle, everyone benefits.

 

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How to Improve Productivity in the Workplace by Decreasing Stress (Webinar Recap)

Posted by Tasneem Panchbhaya 

We had a great webinar in April, in honour of stress awareness month. I sat down with Optimity’s CEO, Jane Wang, to talk about how to decrease stress in the workplace. You can watch the full webinar here. Here are a few key takeaway points from the webinar:  

Why it’s important for employers to focus on an upstream approach to preventing stress in the workplace: 

  • Stress is costing companies on average $300 billion dollar a year on stress-related absenteeism, turnover, lowered productivity, and direct medical, legal and insurance costs.
  • High stress organizations experience:
    • Increased or excessive absenteeism
    • High or increased accident rates
    • Poor interpersonal relations in the workplace
    • Poor or reduced work output and performance
    • Increased staff turnover


Stress is the harmful physical and emotional response that occurs when there is a poor match between job demands and the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. Common stress reactions include tension, irritability, inability to concentrate, and a variety of physical symptoms that include headache and a fast heartbeat. It’s almost impossible to live without some stress. And most of us wouldn’t want to, because it gives life some spice and excitement. But if stress gets out of control, it may harm your health, your relationships, and your enjoyment of life. The following are my top 3 principles that are essential for living a healthy and stress free life!  

1. Get Support

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Stress just doesn’t happen to you, for all we know the person next to you might be suffering from a form of stress as well. One way to combat your stress is through social support. Seek help out help, you don’t always have to make hard decisions on your own, find someone to talk to. Just one or two of your co-workers can become the pillar you need to tackle the stressful situations in your life.

2. Limit the Sugar Binge

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Interestingly, the stress hormone cortisol increases your appetite because of your body’s need for energy. Essentially how this works is,during a stress reaction, Cortisol increases your blood pressure and together with Adrenaline helps accelerate your heartbeat and breathing. This sends glucose to the blood to help free up enough energy for the muscles and the brain. As a result, a fuel shortage arises, and the sugar in our body provides the quick fix, as a result making us crave sweet foods.

To avoid consuming excessive amounts of sugar, be cognizant of what you’re eating. Making healthy food choices using Canada’s Food Guide ensures your body has the nutrients it needs to meet the challenges of your day.

3. Exercise

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My third principle, and perhaps my favorite, is exercise. Studies have proven that exercises helps cope with stress, especially aerobic exercise. It can improve your mood, help you sleep better, improve your focus and mental alertness, and make you feel fitter and more confident. Have a busy work schedule? No problem, check out this blog to get tips on how to incorporate exercise into your busy schedule.

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It’s smart and also more cost-effective to prevent stress. Simple lifestyle changes can have the biggest positive impact, financially for business and for the overall health of the individual. If you want to learn more about implementing an engaging and successful wellness program that maintains a healthy work environment and reduces employee stress, reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com for information on how Optimity can help you!

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Don’t miss out on next months webinar on Employee Health & Wellness on May 3, click here to register.

 

 

Top 5 Ways to Fit Exercise into a Busy Day!

2 Minute Read

With long busy days in the office and impending deadlines, it’s no wonder why we don’t make time to schedule in the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity into our day. The following are just 5 simple ways you can get the daily physical activity intake without having to make extra time. If you want a more indepth review, check out our webinar, “fitness hacks for the busy professional”.

Start with your Commute

Going to work

If possible turn your usual bus ride or car ride into a fast walk, jog or bicycle ride to work. This way you turn your commute into a workout. Don’t forget to dress for the weather.

Climb your way to Better Health

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Take the stairs instead of the elevator, it saves you time during the rush hour when the elevators busy, and it helps you burn lots of calories. Climbing the stairs is a great time sensitive, equipment free aerobic exercise, that helps get the heart rate up which toning the muscles in your legs. To make this even more challenging, run up and down the stairs, this will make the activity more vigorous and ideal for any workout. Stair climbing is also great for improving your energy, leads to a stronger immune system and lowers your risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Stand Up at Work

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Take a break from sitting at your desk for long hours and try to stand up occasionally. Better yet, walk around the office, and try having “walking meetings” whenever possible. These small changes make a huge difference when it comes to one’s susceptibility to a disease. It’s also a bonus, as it burns more calories, and boost energy, resulting in more productive and engaged workers.

Take the Time to Stretch

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Taking out a few minutes throughout the day to stretch at your desk is easy to do and rakes in many benefits. Not only is it great for releasing soreness and tension in the body, and increasing flexibility. It also boosts energy and alertness. This increase in energy more than makes up for the few minutes taken out throughout the day. If you want to hear more on stretching, take a look at a webinar we did with Dr. Kleinberg,the president of Kleinberg Corporate Wellness and chiropractor, who joined us to shed light on workplace posture and movement. We discuss the importance of proper posture and body alignment for wellness, and strategies to set up your workplace for success, so be sure to have a look!

Workout at your Desk

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One of the simplest things to do, is workout right from your desk. There are numerous activities you can do from your desk, even very subtle ones, like ab crunching, that leads to a stronger core. In addition to getting healthier, you also end up getting in a workout while getting your work done. Workouts that can lead to better health and mood make for better engagement and productivity at work.

Optimity

At Optimity we can help make this easier, Optimity’s technology platform is scientifically supported. We help the average worker take productive 30 second to 2-minute micro-breaks that have long last beneficial impact. These micro-habits boosts their mood, helps them focus and encourage social connectedness to their culture. Our pocket coach is also customized to each employee.

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How Moving Helps You Avoid Downtime and Feeling Exhausted

Do you feel that despite sitting all day, you are left feeling exhausted and tired before the clock strikes 7?  Most of us are guilty of a sedentary lifestyle. A lifestyle where we wake up, drive to work, sit for 8 hours in front of our computer screens, go home and doze off to sleep while watching TV or reading a book.

One might wonder how all the energy burns out without consciously doing any physically challenging activity.  Well apparently, less physical activity is the reason behind being unusually tired and exhausted.  It may sound counter-intuitive, but over the past years, numerous research has proven that physical activity is vital for us to stay healthy. Moving is important to stay active and energetic all day long.

Here are a few reasons why staying active is important:

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Stimulate your mind

Researchers suggest that there are unexpected links between our mental and physical fitness. When we are mentally stressed, we automatically feel dull and exhausted. Taking a break from work and moving around for a bit can help your brain function better. You will be surprised how a few minutes of physical activity like a walk in the park or Yoga can have a positive effect on your mood.

 

Get rid of sleepiness

We all go through that 3 P.M slump every day where no amount of caffeine can help us stay awake. Try switching your coffee with a walk around your office building and you will instantly get an energy boost. Moving around helps take the edge off sleepiness and avoid down time.

 

Give your eyes a break

While we’re hard at work our eyes are constantly glued to our computer screen, which causes eye strain and fatigue. As most of us tend to work for long hours in front of computers, it is bound to result in exhaustion at the end of the day. Moving around gives your eyes some time to relax and help reduce tiredness.

Periodically taking a break from your work and computer screen by being up on your feet has a lot of benefits for our physical as well as mental health.

 

 

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Trista Chan is a Wellness Strategy Advisor 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.  

 

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Morning Workouts

Posted by Jane Wang

Over the years I’ve grown to love exercising in the morning. It frees up my evenings, leaves me fewer excuses for skipping out on a workout, and helps me feel more alert throughout the day.The sense of accomplishment compounds throughout my day, giving me positive feelings that carry into client meetings and work sessions with my team.

Tips and tricks from Jane Wang, CEO of Optimity

Tips and tricks from Jane Wang, CEO of Optimity

Research shows morning workouts can also improve sleep, acuity, and productivity, as well as positively impact diet and exercise habits. At Optimity, we are tracking how it impacts business metrics and employee perception.

However, just because I love morning workouts doesn’t mean I leap out of bed at the sound of my alarm, eager to exercise every day. I’m not naturally a morning person, so I find it tough to head out for a run before the sun rises or attend a 6AM burpee bootcamp. I’ve skipped my fair share of early workouts, but I’ve also gotten quite good at not skipping them too, thanks to a little strategic planning, preparation and positive thinking.

If you’re wanting to become more of a morning exerciser, here are some of my top tips. Maybe they’ll help you too!

1. Ease into it. If you’ve never exercised in the morning before, don’t sign up for 6AM personal training sessions five days in a row. To start, schedule one morning workout per week.

2.  Enlist a buddy. It’s a lot harder to skip a morning sweat session if you have someone counting on you to show up. No one wants to be that person who bails!

3. Before you go to bed, decide exactly what morning workout you will do. For example, instead of saying, “I will exercise before work tomorrow,” say “I will jog 2 miles and do 30 pushups before work tomorrow.” This allows you to budget just the right amount of time you’ll need to fit in your workout. It also prevents you from dozing back off to sleep while pondering what type of exercise you’ll do.

4. Give yourself a reward. When your alarm goes off, don’t dwell on how much you’d rather fall back asleep or how tired you are. Instead, give yourself something to look forward to. It can be a delicious breakfast sandwich or smoothie after the workout, a more-indulgent lunch to treat yourselve (sushi versus salad), or even permission to get that item you have been eyeing for the last few weeks (that book, that gadget, or that shirt)!

Working out in the morning isn’t for everyone, but I’m living proof that the non-morning person can live better with a little self-actualization at the beginning of each day. Hope this helps!

Let’s build a community:

Do you prefer morning, afternoon or evening workouts? What helps you early exercisers get out of bed in the morning? Let us know down below. 

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