Learn the science of corporate wellness programs.


During the recent FitBit Captivate conference, it dawned on me that some might think corporate wellness programs are a little too weird to participate.


The typical corporate wellness program typically achieves a 20% participation rate. Are you wondering why everyone from your employer to your doctor is so interested in how much, when and why you move? The main reason is that there are a lot of people in this country that are not moving enough to keep their bodies in good health. However, there is more to it.


1/ 10,000 steps per day


The number may seem a bit arbitrary but there is some science to it. The number of steps was developed by a Japanese physician, Y Hatano who developed an early version of the pedometer called Manpo-Kei. His research determined 10,000 steps to be the right number to maintain a healthy body based on energy consumed [calories] and expended [movement] each day.


Many corporate wellness programs start with just trying to make employees aware of their actual movement. What many who participate find is that they are not moving enough. We’re conditioned from an early age to sit still. Personal trainers, including Harley Pasternak now believe that people can get “lean in life” just by standing more and walking at least 10,000 steps/day. That is about 5 miles/day.


Some companies are implementing walking meetings, standing desks and treadmill desks as part of their wellness initiatives.  All these changes may seem or feel a little weird until it becomes the cultural norm.


2/ Lean isn’t enough


Everyone needs to be strong [and flexible] to maintain good health and to continue doing all the things they love to do including playing with their kids and grandkids. 


Imagine someone in the next cube or the lunch room busting out a few sets of squats or pushups. It might seem a little weird or even distracting. However, some companies are encouraging employees to workout at their desks or wherever they feel like it. Just 5 minutes of resistance training each day improves health over time.


For those wanting to feel less weird when they workout and to achieve more, head to the gym or studio for Pilates, Yoga, Suspension Training, Functional Training, Weight Training or whatever else your heart desires. Working out should simply be time to do something physical and enjoyable unless you’re trying to obtain your best body. 


According to Harley, all of the best bodies are achieved by lifting heavy weights. Don’t worry about “bulking up”. The bulk comes from taking steroids that increase your testosterone levels and eating more calories than you burn.


3/ Track your movement


Tracking is a personal choice. Devices are evolving into something we enjoy wearing and that are useful enough to keep us wearing them [aka watches]. Scientists are thrilled because wearables are making it easier than ever to collect more accurate and reliable data for research.


Can you remember what you ate 3 days ago for lunch? Probably not unless you eat the same thing everyday or on the same day each week. When people self report data whether to a doctor or researcher, they often misreport information because they can’t remember or they want to tell the person the “correct” answer.


Using a tracking device allows researchers to collect more accurate and complete data. It may also help physicians with timing the delivery of interventions. Researchers from leading universities are experimenting with the data in hopes of developing personalized medicine.


Wellness is for everyone


Whether you track your progress or not, wellness is for everyone. The circles represent the 5 things [Eat, Sleep, Move, Mind + Body, Manage Weight]  that you need to being doing to maintain good health. Those who attended the conference and participated in the tracking challenge, have room for improvement as evidenced by the % below each circle. Health for many of us is a work-in-progress. Sorry I removed the image with the stats. It wasn’t picture perfect.


So with that I leave you with a challenge…pick one thing that will improve your health and commit to it for the next 30 days.

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