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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3 Refreshing ways to EAT your way to a better mood!

Woman eating healthy salad near the river

Being in a positive mood is always ideal for everyone, you work better and feel better and the people around you really react to the positive energy you give off. It really helps with all the decisions you make in your everyday life, so it’s important that you’re feeling your best when making these decisions.

Did you know that food can actually help boost better moods? Well, it’s true! Food helps with better moods, providing you with more energy and it helps you think clearly! Below are my top 3 food tips to help you get into a better mood.

1. Raise your vitamin D levels with food 

When you eat your wild salmon, bake it don’t fry it; when salmon is baked, almost all of the vitamin D content remains, but when fried in vegetable oil almost half of the vitamin D content is lost. Other good food sources are trout, ahi-tuna, mushrooms, and egg yolks, and, our favourite, plain Greek yogurt.

Another cool fact: if you lose just 5 percent or more of your body weight, your vitamin D blood levels will shoot up. Vitamin D likes to stay in fatty tissue, so when you lose fat, the D levels in your blood go up! Marvels of vitamin D: heart health, skin health, immune health & mental health!

2. Enjoy Your Bananas (and other fruits)  

Fruits have amino acids in them and bananas are surprisingly high in tryptophan, that along with its natural sugars makes an ideal situation for creating serotonin. Dates and papaya are also high in tryptophan, but most fruits have enough to make a difference.

Any food with a sweet taste will have a calming effect on the nervous system beyond its carbohydrate content.This is not why monkeys seem so happy but it sure doesn’t hurt!

3. Eat Your Greens

The University of Kuopio in Finland conducted a study with 2,313 men for more than 10 years and they found that leafy greens are good for your brain.

Greens are high in almost all vitamins and minerals but they are particularly high in folate – a B vitamin that has been shown to reduce depression. Kale, collard, and spinach will all contribute to boosting your mood!

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Top 3 Health Issues Facing Employees Working with Heavy Machines

Posted by Tasneem Panchbhaya 

With the annual CMPX expo that happened down the street from us this year, it came to a reminder that a lot of employees whose job requirements entails a lot of heavy lifting, and transporting of heavy equipments to new locations, are an overlooked population.  

Because they’re not the average 9-5 office worker, there isn’t much focus surrounding their health and wellness needs. Companies focus a lot of attention on workplace safety and how to prevent physical injuries on the job, but there isn’t a huge focus on these employees other wellness needs.

Employees who work for companies that require them to work around big and heavy machines, face many health outcomes that could have been easily prevented had there been more of a focus on a proactive wellness approach targeted for their needs. The following are the top 3 health issues these employees face who tend to be on the go, working around heavy equipment:

 

Musculoskeletal

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Musculoskeletal disorder, or MSD for short, is a condition that affects the human body’s movements, so that includes, but not limited to the following parts: muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, blood vessels and more. MSD is the leading cause of pain, and disability in all workplaces, especially amongst employees who have to transport heavy equipment. In North America, MSD’s direct cost is estimated to be $20 billion, and their overall indirect cost are to be between $45-54 billion. These are unnecessary cost, associated to an issue that can be easily prevented had employers implemented a wellness initiatives that focused on these needs. Heavy loads require higher muscular force, and this constant repetitive impact can lead to or promote the development of degenerative disorders. To learn more about posture and movement, check out this webinar, co-hosted with Dr. Kleinberg.

A tip to decrease the likelihood of developing a musculoskeletal disorder is through stretching. Stretching helps improve an individual’s flexibility, essentially the range of movement around a skeletal joint. It allows for that muscle to grow, strengthen and lengthen, leading to its ability to better adapt to the amount of force put upon that muscle. Meaning it’s ability to stretch becomes stronger and longer, which decreases the chances of the muscle tearing, because it will now need a lot more force for it to tear. These small changes, of implementing stretching into your daily routine will decrease the chances of one acquiring a musculoskeletal injury.

Occupational Safety

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When it comes to working with big and heavy machinery, injuries are bound to happen, often even leading to disabilities. the biggest concern for employers of this industry is injury prevention. If the organization’s culture values the importance of injury prevention, and provides wellness initiatives for this, then fewer injuries are less likely to occur. There needs to be thorough training occuring in order to keep information up to date and relevant for employee. In addition to these extensive training, providing constant tips and reminders to employees is an effective thing to do.


Mental Health

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Occupational safety and mental health, work hand in hand. When under stress you put yourself at risk of getting injured. Working around big and heavy machines can become a stressful environment for workers who have to work around them daily. When it comes to handling machines, it requires a lot more work and attention in order for the task to get completed without any injury. These responsibilities and workload can become stressful, and as we all know constant stress can lead to unfavourable health conditions. The best way to minimize these outcomes is by providing early intervention. Employers need to implement a wellness initiative that fosters  proactive approach to mental health. Be sure to join us for our stress management webinar where we’ll go into more depth on the topic of stress management: what it is, and how to prevent it.

 

With a digital wellness platform it can make make getting wellness to all employees easier. The Optimity app is loaded with hundreds of health topics, some of them even relating to occupational safety and injury prevention. Having access to a coaching tool that have activities and information related specifically to occupational safety is important to have. This eliminates the concern that employers have about employees neglecting the importance of occupational safety. With more emphasis put onto this, employee’s overall health is bound to increase, with injuries decreasing, resulting in more productivity and lower injury related cost for employers.

Optimity

We can help make the wellness needs for your employees easier to manage. Optimity’s platform is scientifically supported to provide health content and micro activities that are 30 seconds to 2 minute long in order to prevent chronic health outcomes. The proactive approach will produce better workers, who are more healthier, happier and more productive, while bringing down health care costs for the employer. If you want to learn more about how Optimity can help your employees and your organization, reach out to engage@myoptimity.com and request a demo.

Or sign up here to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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Unlocking the Hidden Values of HR

Posted by Emily Guterres

You may have heard it before, “ HR is a cost center.” “What does your HR department do exactly?” At most times, the questions about HR’s value are not asked politely.

In 2016, engaged productive employees are the biggest investment and reap the greatest rewards. CEO’s are increasingly investing in health and wellness programs because it may be the single, most powerful enhancer of employee engagement. When business leaders recognize the remarkable benefits of a healthy workplace to the organization, they are more likely to commit the time and resources to support and implement the program.

A strategically designed investment in employees’ social, mental and physical health pays off. Better health often equals greater engagement. Research from Gallup shows that employee engagement is positively correlated with better health – engaged workers are less likely to be obese and have chronic conditions, as explained by Harvard Business Review.

Wellness incentives and benefits should not only be viewed as an-add on, but a strategic imperative. With an aging workforce and health care costs that are only rising. It’s that clear healthy employees are always more productive. Dale Carnegie Training reports that companies with employee-centric characteristics outperform those without by up to 202%.

So how do we empower our employees to be engaged and feel involved in the workplace?

Valuing People and Showing Them You Care

Dale Carnegie study shows that “employees want their managers to care about their personal lives and to take an interest in them as individuals, to care about they feel and support their health and well- being”. A manager’s abilities to lead and foster strong relationships with employees are key to helping employees perform at the highest possible level.

McKesson Canada in 2016 has shown that investment into employee wellness initiatives yields between 3-4x ROI within Canada, and 10-11x ROI in the USA (with about 15% participation in their active prevention programs).

Optimity has seen dramatic changes from hard ROI measures such as reduction to cost of designing and launching a program to cost savings from decreased claims and benefits cost. Not to mention the dramatic employee positive feedback in the forms of softer dollars: more productive hours, lower absenteeism, and improved engagement scores.

Investing in HR at every level

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If you want to attract and retain top talent, you have to invest in employee development. Almost all employees can benefit from an employee development program. However, often times with the pressure of day-to-day business this often gets puts to the side. As a business owner, the ROI when investing in your employees is priceless.

By investing in your employees’ training and development in an organization, you see many positive outcomes. The benefits of employee development seem endless. It includes employee loyalty, engaged employees and most of all it helps attract and keep the greatest employees.

The same can be said about other value-adding coaching functions: wellness, productivity, and fiscal responsibility.

When it comes to building that long-term sustainable competitive advantage – fostering that aspect of growth is key to retaining talent at your workplace.

Overemphasize your investment in your employees, and never underestimate its impact on culture, costs, and profits. Not only will you see short-term changes in sick days, stress leaves, utilization of benefits, the report on motivated people working together as a highly-functional team is never short of positive.

Tell your employees you do care, help them stay engaged and feel passionate about their work, by doing this you will realize there is nothing that they won’t strive to achieve.

Optimity is standing up for employee investment and the outstanding results that come with it.

Where do you stand?

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Find your Financial Bliss

Posted by Tasneem Panchbhaya 

How many of you have found yourself in a situation where you looked at your recent credit card statement and are in disbelief by what you see, because like most, people are now tapping/swiping their cards without giving it much thought, and bringing your spendure to more than expected? Or, have you found yourself in a situation, where your cash income is going to be delayed, so now you don’t know how your going to cover your major, necessary expenses. If any of these situations or similar ones apply to you, just know you’re not the only ones. A Manulife study, states that about 40% of people in North America are financially unwell and 26% of people are doing “okay”. Meaning only 34% of people are making the right strides to better financial health.  

As nice winning the lottery would be nice, it often times actually will not make your financial situations better. More money does not equal better financial wellness, and here’s why: financial wellness is the relationship one has with money, meaning are you able to keep your spending within you comfort, and are prepared for any unexpected financial emergencies (do you have savings/rainy day funds); do you have access to any resources or tools that you need to make good financial decisions; are you ready for the future, have you started making plans to achieve your goals? These are the types of questions that should be surfacing in your mind when you think about your finances. When you think about your financial wellness, it shouldn’t feel like an uncomfortable topic, you shouldn’t have to get depressed every time you think of money (or lack thereof).

Now the overbearing question, why does any of this matter for both the employees and employers? When an individual (employee) has the financial bliss they need, they are able to produce better work because they’re more productive and more engaged, because they’re less stressed, and therefore are more likely to stay on the job.

According to a study by Mercer, when you have financially stressed employees, 22% have reported missing at least 1 work day to take care of any financial issues; 15% have spent more than 20 hours or more in a month while at work, thinking about their financial situations; and 20% said to actually leave their job because of their financial stress.

As employers, who want the best for their employees overall health, as well as retaining productive employees, it’s a matter that should be taken into the hands of the organization in order to provide tools that can help bring upon financial stability for their employees and as a result bringing down any indirect cost associated.  

Here are my top 3 tips for finding better financial wellness!

1. Plan

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Experts cannot stress enough how important planning is for your financial wellness. I know saving for the future and/or emergencies, isn’t as fun as splurging on unnecessary necessities, however planning ahead makes the world of a difference. Planning works hand in hand with goal setting, setting goals (both short, medium, and long term) will help make planning easier, figuring out what you value makes deciding where and how much you need to save for the future. It also makes daily/weekly spendings a lot easier to control since now you can differentiate what you need from what you want.

2. Investing

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Similar to planning, it’s essential that employees start investing into their future retirement, it’s never too early or too late to start. Investing into retirement savings that accumulate compound interest over time will help increase your savings without lifting a finger. Knowing you’re financially prepared for the future will  help release any stress or doubts you were having about life after retirement.

3. Control Debt 

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This last tip is a given, the best way to increase your financial wellness is by decreasing any financial debts that you have. Many of us have to juggle (student) loans, credit card payments, recurring expenses like car or housing, and much more. You’re priority when it comes to paying off loans or debt is to start with the ones with the highest interest rates, if you can clear those ones out first, it’ll be better for you in the long run because the higher the interest rates, the higher accumulation of debt.

Make the most of what you earn through Optimity, we can help you stay on track by providing you with the tools you need to make better strides with your financial wellness. Our platform, is innovating and constantly changing to meet the needs and demands of every busy individual. Let us help you, help yourself. We know that it can be hard to juggle your financial health as well as all other aspects of your wellness, but we can make that easier for you. Contact us to learn more about how you can make the burden of financial wellness easier and fun! All you need is the right platform with the right tools to help guide you!

Sign up here to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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How to Eat Smart  

Posted by Tasneem Panchbhaya 

Eating healthy shouldn’t be a struggle, don’t let your long busy day hold you back from making healthy choices. Sometimes we know what the right choices are, we just don’t make them because of the unhealthier temptations around us or because we prioritize work over lunch. However, nutrition is vital if we want stay healthy, prevent illness and have a successful job performance, with a positive outlook.

Here are our top 3 tips on how to eat healthy while you work through your busy work day:

1.  Eat Breakfast
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Don’t hit snooze on your alarm, it’s better to get up 10 minutes early and have yourself a quick breakfast than to sleep in a little longer. I know when I’m trying to rush to work, the last thing on my mind is having breakfast in the morning, however studies have shown that skipping breakfast actually leads to obesity and puts you at a higher risk of susceptible chronic illness such as diabetes or cardiovascular illnesses. It’ll also help you get rid of any cranky or moodiness you feel first thing in the morning. Check out our nutrition content in the Optimity app’s library, ranging from healthy recipes to tips on mindful eating to learn more on eating healthy.

Here’s one of my favorite recipes that’s healthy and simple to make, so you can have anywhere, even on the go!

Yogurt Parfait 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup low fat yogurt
  • ¼ cup low fat granola
  • ¼  cup grapes or fruit of choice

Layer your granola and fruit on the yogurt, and enjoy! Your breakfast couldn’t get any easier and healthier than that!

2. Eat with a Buddy

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Distracted eating while working or on your phones may lead to un-healthier food choices and portions. However eating with a friend/colleague will actually boost productivity, since people who eat together will actually work better together, since many researchers attribute eating together as a team building exercise. Eating with a buddy also doubles up as an accountability partner, your buddy can help you stay on track of any health goals you have in place for yourself, as well as make you more conscious of portion sizes when you’re eating with others, you’ll stop yourself from getting a second servings when you’re eating with someone else.

3. Keep Healthy Snacks at hand

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It’s easy to skip meals or substitute your lunch meals with unhealthy processed snacks you have laying around because of how convenient and easy they are to to eat while working. Surround your desk or office kitchen with healthier snacks that you can have between your meals to keep you full. Some helpful suggestion are to have snacks high in fibre and protein, so they can help keep you fuller for longer periods of time. Try keeping a handful of nuts around, but be sure to be cognizant of portion sizes, because too much of anything can actually make you put on weight due to the extra calories. For more helpful suggestions on eating in the workplace, be sure to check out our webinar for more information.

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The way to successfully implement change in your employees healthy lifestyle is to start micro. Micro behaviour changes are key in making positive change to any work environment, because of how easy it is to actually implement. Having an app, like Optimity send out encouraging helpful nudges, and provide really insightful tips and exercise goes a really long way in promoting an overall healthy life.This approach is a lot easier and more rewarding for both the employees and employers, because both have something to gain from the shift. Employees get to change their life, bit by bit, everyday leading to better health, and in addition, get rewarded for it. This as a result, produces better health outcomes for employees, leading to a decrease in health claim cost and a better work ethics.

Optimity

If you want to learn more about implementing a successful workplace wellness program and bring down your cost while increasing productivity and engagement, reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com to learn more.

Or sign up here to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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Let us know how you eat healthy throughout your busy workday!

Wellbeing in the Workplace: Why Employee Engagement Matters (Optimity Webinar Recap)

Posted by Tasneem Panchbhaya 


We had a great webinar in May, in honour of Global Employee Health and Fitness month. I sat down with Optimity’s CEO, Jane Wang, to talk about how to promote best practice tips in the workplace to promote employee engagement. You can watch the full webinar here. Here are a few key takeaway points from the webinar:  

Employee engagement is the number one problem to solve; with absenteeism and productivity as the second top concern for HR leaders.

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We took a quick poll at the start of the webinar to see what some of the leading issues were in the workplace, and it turns out employee engagement was a huge concern for 77% of our attendees, so our webinar topic clearly hit home with a lot of people.

With growing focus on employee health, corporate wellness programs are increasingly becoming the order of the day. Research shows, that those individuals who exercise frequently, stayed home from work on an average 2.11 days fewer annually and had 31% lower health care costs than individuals who didn’t exercise regularly. These numbers alone stress the importance of setting up corporate wellness programs.

Almost 50% of medical costs are incurred due to illnesses that can be avoided with small lifestyle changes. Corporations have begun to realize the importance of healthy employees and are working to encourage employees to lead increasingly healthier lifestyles.

One of the studies we discussed in the webinar by Aon Hewitt, established that successful employers make employee engagement a business priority. When employers care about their employees, the employees respond with a better rational and motivation. This leads to 20% increase in engaged employees. When putting this number into context, it means if an organization has 30,000 employees, then there are 6000 employees who are going above and beyond with their jobs to serve their customers and drive efficiency. The graph below reflects these stats, where there is roughly a 20% gap between “best employers” and others (employers who don’t prioritize employee engagement), and we can see the difference in how much more successful the organization is when employee engagement is at the top of the employers agenda.  

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Organizations know that wellness programs are key to addressing employee issues, which is why more than half the organizations already have wellness programs.

wb chart-2With the second poll that we took, it clearly supported the new industry norm of wellness programs being a prominent addition in majority of workplaces, with 77% stating they already incorporate a wellness program in their organization.

 

Wellness programs don’t just benefit employers, it also supports the needs of the employees, some of which are:

●  Improving their physical strength, stamina, and general well being
●  Improving their focus at work
●  Increasing job satisfaction and fostering a positive outlook on life
●  Bettering relations with co-workers and supervisors  

An effective workplace wellness programs is the backbone to improving engagement in the workplace. Gallup’s most recent global research finds only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work, and according to the latest State of the American Workplace report, just 33% of employed residents in the United States are engaged at work.

Here are two important facts that came about a study done by The Corporate Leadership Council on employees performance and retention:

  • Engaged companies grow profits as much as 3X faster than their competitors.
  • Highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave the organization.

Other key findings were that:

  • A disengaged employee costs an organization approximately $3,400 for every $10,000 in annual salary.
  • Disengaged employees cost the American economy up to $350 billion per year due to lost productivity.

All these key findings suggest that if companies want to boost productivity and profitability, customer loyalty, and bring down attrition and disengagement losses, they need to start engaging employees.

So you may be wondering, what’s the solution, especially if more than half of organizations have already incorporated a wellness program, why is engagement so low? Well the problem and the solution lie in the approach to wellness. A lot of the organizations are still relying on traditional approach to wellness programs, and that’s not to say they’re not good, they’re just not as effective in getting high participation and and sustainability. What successful organizations are doing is going digital.

Non-traditional approaches to wellness are still the most common route used by many organizations. 

wb chart-3The last poll we did during this webinar was to see how our attendees faired with using a digital wellness tool. Although a few have had the chance to implement it, more than half do not, and this just shows why only a handful of organizations have such great engagement rates, they’re implementing wellness programs the right way, the digital way.

One of the main reason’s why a digital wellness program is so effective is with their use of a dynamic and innovative health risk assessment (HRA).

An effective HRA allows the wellness program to understand the nuances of an individual’s statistical situation by collecting their key biometric data and health information. With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) we’ve now been able to integrate a wellness system to take information from the HRA and use it to automatically create a tailored program for the individual. This approach customizes, and tailors the program to the individuals needs which is a huge leap forward from traditional approaches that focuses solely on fitness and nutrition, and requires on site attendance for wellness programs. The digital approach gives the individual the power to create true and meaningful change. 

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To learn more about implementing a successful wellness program that increases engagement, be sure to check out our webinar, where we also go over our top 3 best practice tips that you can implement in your workplace, even if you don’t (yet) have Optimity.  

A comprehensive corporate wellness programs have proven to be beneficial and cost effective to the employer as well as the employee in the long run. If you’d like more information on implementing a successful wellness program, please reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com.  

Or sign up here to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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