The Well-Being Journal

Walking Together for Longer, Healthier Life

Jennifer Rudloff

walking togetherWith all of our modern technology, connecting quickly has become easier. But there’s something to be said for trading some high-tech time with real, face-to-face quality time every once in a while. When we do this by going for a walk with friends, for example, it can do wonders for our physical and emotional health.

Successful Strides

Four years after becoming the first Blue Zones Project city, Albert Lea, Minn., continues to be a living, breathing example of this. A recent news article reported the city has 30 moais, or groups who continue to get together twice a week for an hour-long walk, bike ride or dancing. This Midwestern city has shown how a healthy habit can become a life-changing lifestyle.

Those who’ve participated in the Blue Zones program and adopted its principles—like regular activity and healthy eating—have experienced numerous benefits, such as:

  • Improved physical and emotional health
  • Elimination of medication for certain health conditions
  • An increased lifespan of 2.9 years on average

In summary, walking with others can make it easier to adopt healthy choices, which can grow into a lifestyle, which can lead to well-being improvement beyond measure.

Some Pep for Your Step

When was the last time you met up with a group of friends, colleagues or neighbors and went for a walk? Whether you have a health-related goal or would like to reconnect on a deeper level, consider making contact and find a time that would work. You could even consider organizing a "walking school bus" in your neighborhood, like described in this YouTube video. One step is all you need to get started. And if you want to use a little high-tech to initiate the conversation, a quick text probably wouldn't hurt.

Topics: Healthy Living In the News Exercise Physical Health Health Emotional Health Social Well-Being Success Stories Blue Zones Project

Chicago launches its innovative wellness program designed by Healthways, setting an example for the rest of the country

Jennifer Rudloff

 

Chris Cigarran and Ernie Banks Chris Cigarran, vice president at Healthways, and Cubs legend Ernie Banks celebrate the kickoff of Chicago’s new wellness program at a July 27, 2012 press conference.

This past Friday brought much excitement—both for our nation, as we began cheering on Olympic contenders, and for our company, as we cheered on the city of Chicago in the launch of its new wellness program, designed and implemented by Healthways.

Introduced by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel last Friday at a press conference, the Chicago Lives Healthy program is now available to more than 47,000 city employees and their spouses/domestic partners who are eligible. It’s one of the largest, most comprehensive government wellness program ever introduced.

Aimed at helping people achieve improvements in their well-being and live healthier lives, the program offers access to a comprehensive suite of tools and capabilities through Healthways. Chicago Lives Healthy is also expected to help contain out-of-pocket healthcare expenses while saving the city and taxpayers money.

Healthways Vice President Chris Cigarran spoke at the press conference, helping introduce the groundbreaking wellness program. “It’s simple,” he said, “healthier people cost less and are more productive.” On a deeper level, he went on to say, “Chicago Lives Healthy is about making a difference in people’s lives. It’s about giving people the support they need and information they need to live more productive lives.” To hear more of what Cigarran and other speakers like Cubs legend Ernie Banks said, you can watch the video of the press conference online.

[yframe url='http://player.vimeo.com/video/46629498']

The city of Chicago also shared a press release on Friday with more details about the program. Together with the press conference, it garnered the attention of several news outlets. In the press release, Ben R. Leedle, Jr., president and chief executive officer of Healthways shared, “The program’s visionary and groundbreaking initiatives, led by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, will propel the city and its employees to even greater heights.”

While Chicago will see the direct impact of this program in the short and long term, it’s exciting to think about a potential ripple effect it could have across the nation (or world) as other governments take notice of the example Chicago sets. Working together toward improved well-being, we can be healthier and happier—not just in terms of our physical health, but also our financial health.

To learn more about how Healthways supports populations, visit our capabilities page.

Topics: Financial Well-Being In the News Events Government

Meet MIT Age Lab's Sweetheart, AGNES

Jennifer Rudloff

As we age, the way we experience the world around us changes. Getting out of cars, grocery shopping and all of the big and little things that are a part of every day life can be come more difficult.

Enter AGNES: MIT Age Lab's Age Gain Now Empathy System. AGNES allows us to better undersand how these customers are experiencing life and how we can alter the design of their physical environment, and improve our solutions to better fit their needs.

So how does it work? Watch the video to find out!

Topics: Healthy Living In the News Aging Chronic Disease Joseph Coughlin MIT Age Lab Age Gain Now Empathy System AGNES

Just In: Healthy Behaviors on the Rise

Jennifer Rudloff

This week, the February findings from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® were released. They indicate that Americans starting 2012 on the right when it comes to healthy eating and exercise. In fact, since December, the percentage of Americans who reportedly ate the recommended servings of fruits and veggies at least 4 days in the last week (5 servings) increased by 3.3 percentage points. That’s quite an improvement for just a few short months. But healthy behaviors aren’t stopping in the kitchen; they’re also extending to the gym as more Americans are exercising more frequently. These 2 factors together boosted the Healthy Behavior Index score by nearly 3 points since December. Looks like those resolutions are paying off after all.

And yet there’s still more positive news – it seems that we’re starting to reverse or at very least slow the trend when it comes to obesity. In February, the Well-Being Index shows that Obesity dropped to 25.6% -- that’s tied for the lowest monthly level Gallup and Healthways have found since October 2008.

Now that’s the good news. The bad news is that when it comes to healthy behaviors, American’s still have a long way to go! There’s no doubt that most Americans know what it takes to be healthy, and there’s no shortage of resources out there to help. But we often let our desire for immediate gratification get in the way of doing the right thing. Take heart health for example: The American Heart Association has a list of 7 heart healthy behaviors they refer to as “Life’s Simple 7” which include some fairly straight forward behaviors including:

  • don’t smoke
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • engage in regular physical activity
  • eat a healthy diet
  • manage blood pressure
  • take charge of cholesterol
  • keep blood sugar, or glucose, at healthy levels

Seems pretty straight forward, no? Yet a recent study shows that only 1.2% of Americans are following these simple seven. And that’s why heart disease remains America’s number one killer, folks.

So how do we move forward and build momentum behind a healthy behavior movement? The first step towards impacting populations is to recognize where the gaps lie. You know that thing "they" say about know knowledge being power…it's true! As you explore your population and identify gaps, you'll begin to better understand the needs of your people and poise yourself to more effectively support their journey towards better well-being.

If you’re not sure where to start, you’re in luck -- we have the tools to help! For organizations, the Healthways Well-Being Assessment™ makes the process of understanding your population easy! It offers simple, complete, and actionable insights into the social, emotional, and physical health factors that are impacting the well-being of your unique population. It also help brings awareness to each person as they'll each receive a personal well-being report and plan. The plan is reflective of their responses and risks, and provides targeted feedback to help them make progress towards improving their health and well-being.

Topics: Healthy Living In the News Exercise Well-Being Index Simple Seven Healthways Gallup Eating Healthy