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corporate wellness



3-Minute Meditation at the Office

If you don’t have the luxury of sitting for hours to contemplate the meaning of life, or the solitude to sneak in an hour or two of quiet time to realign your soul’s intention for being alive, you are not alone. In this day and age, American’s are hard pressed to chill out and enjoy the simple pleasures of being mindful.

We all know meditation offers many health benefits. If it didn’t, Medicare would not cover it under their insurance plan, nor would people like Donna Karan spearhead a movement to offer it to cancer patients in hospitals. The problem most people have is finding the time to practice.

It may not be a full-scale meditative program, but the following three-minute “time-out” can at least help you eliminate some stress and tension from your day at the office. Practice once a day to begin, and then if time permits, add another session when needed.
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Increased Diabetes Risk for Women Who Sit for Hours

Women now have even more motivation to get up and move throughout the day. According to a new study published in the American Journal in Preventive Medicine, women who spend between four and seven hours each day sitting are at increased risk of developing the early signs of type 2 diabetes. However, this research does not show the same link in men.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson Jessica Crandall sums up the problem by stating, “The reality for many Americans is that we work nine-to-five jobs and are sedentary most of the work day, increasing our risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The good news is that type 2 diabetes is preventable through maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in physical activity throughout the day, not just after you get home from work.”

The importance of getting activity throughout the day is highlighted with the fact that the risks are still significant if moderate or vigorous exercise is added in after a long day of sitting.
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Google Ranks Health on Page One for its Employees

Even if CNN and Fortune hadn’t repeatedly named Google as one of the best places to work, they would certainly top of a list of most envied places to work. From the outside looking in Googlers have some of the coolest jobs around, and they get to do it at a place called the Googleplex. We thought our office was cool, but come on! Google has segways, hammocks, and free food!

It’s fairly well known that amongst the many, many perks that Googlers enjoy is free food. At the Googleplex and satellite offices, the company keeps its hard working staff well fed. Sometimes too well, with bowls of M&Ms suspended from ceilings and unlimited passes at cafeteria buffets, it’s like a cruise you get paid to attend.

Recently, Google made some changes in an effort to make the environment even healthier for its employees. If they’re gaming for a healthiest places to work award too, they might win. Google recently revealed some of the changes they’re rolling out.

“We’ve used some things in some offices but haven’t implemented them across the board,” Katelin Todhunter-Gerberg told us, a senior public affairs associate for Google.
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Texas Hospital Restricts Hiring Based on BMI

A hospital in Victoria, Texas is catching some heat for their new hiring policy. The medical center recently announced that they’ll be limiting employment to people with a body mass index (BMI) of less than 35.

Citizens Medical Center will be turning overweight people away if they apply for work in their facilities. The Citizens Medical Center Chief, Dan Brown, explained this controversial decision in a statement.

“The majority of our patients are over 65 and they have expectations that cannot be ignored in terms of personal appearance.” Many argue the validity of Brown’s statement, including attorney John Griffin.

“Patients want people who help them who know what they are doing. They really care very little about their size, their national origin.”
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Dr. Pamela Peeke Argues for Corporate Wellness Programs

A few years ago my husband worked for a large aircraft manufacturer. At the start of a new year, each employee was made to get a full physical to create a baseline for their health. At the same time the next year, each employee would have to do it again, and if they’d improved or at least maintained their insurance premiums would be reduced. This seemed like a no-brainer because he’s not overweight, doesn’t smoke and doesn’t have any diseases or risk factors for things like diabetes or high blood pressure. Throughout the year the company supported everyone’s efforts by sending a package once a month with a variety of things like a cutting board encouraging us to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, floss to maintain dental hygeine, and a book called The Culprit and the Cure.

The following year we got our insurance discount. I’m certain many others did, but also certain many did not. At the time, I couldn’t help but wonder — do companies have a right to do this?

“I absolutely think they do,” Dr. Pamela Peeke told me. She cited the interconnectedness of an employee’s health and a company’s bottom line, which can ultimately impact the local economy. “The only way to implement a corporate wellness program is also to provide ways for people to get off the ‘stuff.’ They need counseling, guidance, and discounts.” By stuff she means cigarettes, unhealthy eating habits, alcohol, or anything else that creates a barrier between staff and a healthy lifestyle.

Dr. Peeke and I spoke last week about the rising need for and popularity of corporate wellness programs. Dr. Peeke has an impressive resume that includes the Chief Medical Correspondent for Discovery Health, author of Fight Fat After Forty, and the founder of the The Peeke Performance Center for Healthy Living.

“It is absolutely growing,” Dr. Peeke said about the rise of corporate wellness programs. “There’s no question. People have no choice now.” She cited that for every one dollar a business spends on wellness for its employees, they get five dollars back in the way of productivity and less absenteeism. As well, costly insurance premiums are reduced when they aren’t carrying the burden of unhealthy employees. To companies that still balk at the idea of the added work or expense of a program, Dr. Peeke says, “For crying out loud, we’re investing in the health of these people.”
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