The costs of medical coverage and the skyrocketing costs of medical care make it extremely difficult for Americans to cure what ails them. But, the incidents of preventable diseases lead many to wonder if investing in wellness programs isn’t a viable solution to the healthcare crisis. Doesn’t it make more sense to live well, eat right, exercise, get proper rest, be productive, and have annual physicals than to live poorly, get sick, miss time from school and work, be sedentary, and be constantly stressed?
What is a wellness program?
A wellness program is a systematic plan designed to promote healthy living. Often provided by employers and insurance companies, wellness programs make a variety of traditional and holistic therapies available to enrollees. Services include: exercise programs/gym memberships, employee assistance programs for emotional support, smoking cessation support, stress-management therapies like yoga and massage therapy, nutritional consultation, weight loss counseling, and chronic illness management. Wellness programs often provide incentives and rewards for reaching milestones including reward points, employee discounts, and access to additional program benefits at discounted rates. (Jeffries)
What if my company does not offer a wellness program?
While many companies are providing wellness programs, they are still not available everywhere to every employee. Self-employed and contract employees may have no access at all. This does not mean, however, that becoming a “well” person is an impossibility. Here are some strategies that anyone can implement and adopt a wellness lifestyle:
- Kick bad habits. Eliminating smoking, drinking alcohol, using drugs, and engaging in risky behavior will add years to your life within months of kicking these habits.
- Clean up your diet. Eliminate fast food, junk food, soda, caffeine, sugar, pork, red meat, and processed foods from your diet. Replace them with fresh fruits and vegetables, plenty of water, lean protein, healthy carbohydrates, and good fats. You will lose weight, gain more energy, lower your cholesterol, improve your mood, and more.
- Start exercising. Commit to some form of dedicated exercise 3-5 days per week for at least 30 minutes per session. Make it something enjoyable. Start walking or running, choose a sport like tennis or biking, take a fitness class, or even invest in some DVDs or video game systems that help you work out at home.
- Visit the doctor and dentist regularly. It is critical to know your health condition in order to make lifestyle changes that will keep you on the road to wellness. A visit to the dentist can reveal an underlying health problem that is causing a decline in your oral health including vitamin and mineral deficiency/poor diet.
- Find healthy ways to relieve stress. Relaxation can be achieved through taking a leisurely walk or run, getting a massage or spa treatment, reading, crossword puzzles, catching a movie, meeting up with friends, or even practicing yoga/meditation.
So, if your company offers a wellness program, consider signing up and taking advantage of all the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. If not, customize your own plan and recruit family and friends to join you. Many of these changes cost nothing upfront. You will likely save more money being “well” than you ever did being in a state of “dis-ease”. Ultimately, you will have a better quality of life.[stextbox id=”grey” caption=”About the Author”]Raychelle Muhammad holds a B.S. in Sports Management from California University of Pennsylvania. Her studies focused on wellness and fitness. She is also an NASM Certified Personal Trainer. Raychelle has worked as a trainer since 2006 and specializes in full body workouts, general nutrition, and flexibility training.[/stextbox]
Jeffries, M. (n.d.). Wellness Programs. Retrieved May 6, 2012, from TLC: http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/wellness-program.htm