According to the World Health Organization, employees spend over a third of each day and about half their waking hours at work. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan employees, executive staff and members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) and Active BLUE employee resource network across the state added 30 minutes to their normal lunch hour on Friday, April 27 to celebrate Blue Cross’ annual Walk at Lunch Day. The event served as a kick-off to Global Employee Health & Fitness Month, which takes place every May and highlights the benefits of a healthy workplace. As an added incentive, Blue Cross donated $1 to Alzheimer’s research for every employee who participated--which led to a donation of more than $2,800. The Dangers of Sitting Studies have shown that individuals who sit for more than six hours a day have a 40 percent higher risk of death in a 15-year span than those who sit for less than three hours each day. Moderate exercise, on the other hand, has been shown to increase life expectancy and prolong optimal health. Some of the key dangers of over-sitting include:
- Poor Blood Health: Just three hours of continuous sitting can cause poor circulation and vascular damage. In severe cases, the compression of blood vessels can result in clotting and/or arterial damage.
- Poor Heart Health: The American Heart Association reports that even those who exercise regularly could be at increased risk for heart disease and stroke if they spend long periods of time sitting.
- Higher Risk of Chronic Conditions: Because it has an impact on nearly every part of the body, a variety of additional health disorders are linked to sedentary behavior. Some of these include: depression/anxiety, hypertension, liver disease, digestive disorders, high cholesterol and cancer.
- Decreased Muscle and Bone Function: Often, long workdays end with neck, back, hip or leg pains. These injuries, along with others, can be the result of sitting for extended periods of time and lead to more serious issues like osteoporosis or muscle degeneration.
- Weight Gain: Excessive sedentary behavior causes the body to produce less fat-burning enzymes while lowering good cholesterol. Paired with an unhealthy diet, the consequences of inactivity can manifest into obesity and/or diabetes.
The Benefits of Workplace Wellness When healthy habits are integrated into the job culture, it results in higher productivity, improved morale, lower health care costs and higher employee retention. Workplace Wellness is offered by most health plans and provides a wide variety of resources that are designed to educate and engage employees in their health. These programs focus on: health maintenance, or helping employees stay healthy, health management, which helps employees self-manage a condition and health culture, helping the employer create a healthier environment. The goal of workplace wellness is to hold employers and their staff accountable for living healthier, happier and more productive lives—a very important value-add to any company or business. Those interested in more information can contact their BCBSM sales account manager or visit the Blue Cross Health and Wellness site, available through BCBSM.com or the BCBSM mobile app.