The Well-Being Journal

A resolution checkup and a trend to break for a healthier second half of 2012

Jennifer Rudloff

healthy choicesWe often look at the beginning of the year as a starting point for new well-being goals. Maybe you were one of many who made such a resolution, or maybe not. Either way, this might be a great point to stop and think about it as we continue in the second half of 2012. Read on to learn why.

 

Where are you?

Maybe you are going strong in your resolution, never had interest in setting one, or are somewhere in between and need a boost of motivation. Wherever you are, you might be interested to know that research presents us with a great wellness opportunity for the second half of the year.

What the trends show

According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index,® Americans on average experience a decline in healthy behaviors and physical health in the second half of the year. We can all probably name factors that influence the lack of steadiness. The well-known truth is that resolutions aren’t always easy to keep all on our own and momentum can easily fade.

What we can do about it

Well, knowledge is power. So now that we’re aware that the U.S. as a whole could be near a high point for the year in healthy behaviors and physical wellness, we can look at this as an opportunity to do something to prevent a decline. If we all make simple, positive changes, perhaps we can even reach new highs in our individual well-being all throughout the year. Think about how it would feel for you personally and what it would mean for your organization as a whole. Below are a couple ideas that could help.

  1. A simple way to get started could be making one tangible well-being improvement goal for the next 30 days, and listing some related action steps. You can do anything for 30 days, right? At the end of 30 days, evaluate your progress, and then decide if you want to continue with that goal or switch to a new one. Make sure to write down your goal, find some resources to support it, track your progress, and for best results, enlist an accountability partner (or your whole organization). By continually introducing new ideas and evaluating your progress, healthy behaviors can become habit, and therefore more of a lifestyle.
  2. Take it a step further and use Healthways as your source for scientific research and proven programs filled with a breadth of resources, tools and support. We can help identifying the unique needs of your organization, create and sustain effective engagement with individual members, and drive positive behavior change that delivers measurable outcomes for the long term. Read about our approach and our solution to learn more, or contact us.

Just a few of the programs that make up our configurable Well-Being Improvement Solution include:

  • The Healthways Well-Being Assessment™, personal Well-Being Plans online and Health Coaching over the phone
  • Prime® Fitness for access to more than 9,000 fitness centers
  • Innergy™ for sustainable weight management
  • QuitNet® for quitting tobacco
  • SilverSneakers® to help seniors boost physical and social activity

If you’re currently a member of a Healthways Well-Being Improvement Solution, you and your colleagues may already be enjoying the benefits of improved physical, mental and social well-being, as well as the financial benefits such as lower healthcare costs and fewer sick days. Maybe you want to take your program even further or get your whole community involved in an initiative, like our BlueZones Project™. Talk with your benefits manager or with us here at Healthways for strategic input.

Let’s all partner together for the greatest well-being improvement—for the second half of 2012 and for the long term.

Topics: Healthy Living Weight Loss Workplace Well-Being Engagement Well-Being Index

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

American Exercise Habits Remain Relatively Unchanged in 2011

Jennifer Rudloff

Last year, 51.6 percent of Americans reported exercising three days or more per week, a slight increase from the 51.4 percent who did so in 2010, Gallup reported March 15.

In addition, the number of Americans who got no exercise at all dipped half a percentage point — to 29.7 percent — in 2011, according to the latest findings of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. However, Americans’ overall exercise habits — aside from a small decrease in exercise rates in 2009 following the financial crisis — have remained essentially stable since Gallup began tracking that data in 2008.

In 2011, most overweight and obese Americans (66.9 percent) got no physical activity in a given week, while a slim majority (58.1 percent) of normal-weight adults worked out three or more days per week, the survey shows.

While doctors are increasingly prescribing exercise to patients and government initiatives such as First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign are working to get more people active, “moving the needle on a national scale remains a challenge,” the report says.

How often do you exercise? How does your employer help you get moving?

Topics: In the News Exercise Physical Health Research Well-Being Index Healthways Gallup

Sense of Well-Being

Jennifer Rudloff

Find out which U.S. states ranked  high in
Source:LiveScience

To learn more about the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index and how your state measures up, click here.

Topics: Well-Being Well-Being Index Healthways Gallup