The Well-Being Journal

How to Live Happier and Healthier Longer

Jennifer Rudloff

We launched Healthways|BlueZones Vitality Cities as a community-wide well-being improvement initiative in Southern California’s Beach Cities to help people live longer, better. Here are some facts that inspired this project and drove a community to take action:

  • Discover your Purpose: People who know why they wake up in the morning live seven years longer than those who don’t.
  • Discover and share your values: People who discover and embrace their values, passions, and talents (and share them regularly) live up to 4 years longer.
  • De-stress: Turn stress-shedding strategies into daily routines. This will help you avoid major age related diseases.
  • Eat Wisely: Those who adopt concrete health habits about their food intake live up to 8 years longer than those who don't.
  • Don’t skip your Vegetables: The healthiest cultures on earth eat a few more plants and a little less food.
  • Snack on nuts: Eating about a handful of nuts a day could add 2-3 years to your life.
  • Enjoy wine daily: Individuals who drink 1-2 glasses of wine a day outlive those who don’t.
  • Move Naturally: Find ways to make yourself walk more! Park further away, walk your dog, do your yard and house work. This can help you gain up to 4 years of life expectancy.
  • Discover a sense of belonging: Those invested in a positive, committed relationship can add up to 3 years of life expectancy.

As part of the Vitality Cities initiative, we’re helping residents of the beach cities community achieve these goals. Some of the programs we have in place include:

  • Vitality City Purpose workshops: These workshops are designed to help people understand their strengths and articulate their purpose. They help people discover new energy for life and connect individuals to volunteer opportunities where community members can apply their strengths to helping others.
  • Walking Moais: Moai comes from Okinawa, Japan and it means “meeting for a common purpose”. It originated as a way for villages to support each other in times of need. Vitality city Moai walking Teams encourage that same social support while adding the physical benefits of walking.

This initiative is just beginning and there are many more programs to come. There’s been a tremendous response from the community and local employers. The first walking Moai program has been a hit; In April more than 1000 beach cities residents formed walking teams and have been walking weekly with friends (new and old) ever since. In addition, some local employers were inspired and have launched walking moais at work. More than 200 workplace walkers at companies like AAMCO, Aerospace, Body Glove Crowne Plaza, and Redondo Beach Unified School District are participating in this program. These employers are seeing some positive cultural shifts with more enthusiastic employees at work, a greater sense of camaraderie between employees, and a greater sense of engagement in healthy choices.

Since April 1, 2011 we’ve had 32 employers who together employee 17,413 people sign on to become vitality employers with more interest every day. Since June is National Employee Wellness Month, we’d like to applaud these employers for taking this important first step to make a difference in the lives of their employers and throughout their communities.

To learn more about Vitality Cities, check out this video:

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Topics: Healthy Living Well-Being Healthcare Community Demand Vitality Prevention Beach Cities Healthways|BlueZones Vitality City Wellness Healthways vitality cities How to Live Longer Finding Happiness Blue Zones Project Health

Behavioral Change: The Science Behind MeYou Health

Jennifer Rudloff

Reposted from the Well-being Wire by MeYou Health

It would be nice if we could all just wake up one morning and say to ourselves, “Today I’m going to start eating healthier foods,” or, “I’m going to start working out today.” Well, actually, it is easy to say it, and sometimes we even stick with our vows to change. All too often, however, our will fails to attain what ourwords promise.

The truth is that change is a process, not a one-shot deal. That’s why all of our products at MeYou Health encourage taking small, achievable steps toward better well-being, not shooting for the moon and running the risk of seeing your lofty goals plummet to earth. Our products also include a huge social component, so that you’ll never have to walk alone on your journey of small steps towards positive change.

Cutting-edge behavioral-change research helps inform the design of products like Daily Challenge, the Path to Well-Being, Munch 5-a-Day, and Monumental. Even the lighthearted adventures of MeYou Health’s Small Action Man, are based on serious science.

Psychologists James O. Prochaska, Ph.D., John Norcross, Ph.D., and Carlo DiClemente, Ph.D., developed one of the seminal theories of behavior change in the 1970s and 1980s, when they wrote that change is not an event but rather a process that occurs in five stages: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. MeYou Health’s Daily Challenges, for example, raise awareness of problem behaviors, get you to weigh the benefits of change, and encourage you to take small actions toward lasting change — the “action” stage where people “have made specific overt modifications in their lifestyle, and positive change has occurred,” according to Prochaska.

Of course, how ready we are to change varies widely from person to person. “What is unique about Daily Challenge is that the challenges we offer up on a daily basis may touch on a new or an existing behavior, depending on the user, but it helps to move all users to make positive impacts on their well-being — whether they’re doing the action for the first time or repeating and reinforcing a behavior they’ve attempted before,” says Josée Poirier, Ph.D., director of program design and research at MeYou Health. “In either case, the completed challenge influences the user, regardless of what stage he or she is in.”

Just as there are many paths to enlightenment, there are many pathways to change, as well. Researcher B.J. Fogg, Ph.D., of Stanford University describes behavioral change in terms of “dots,” “spans,” and “paths”: dot behaviors are those that take place one time, span behaviors take place over a duration of time (a month, for example), while paths are lasting changes.

“Our Daily Challenges are all ‘dot’ behaviors” points out Poirier. “We believe in focusing on the present: what can you do today to improve your well-being? We’ve all made long-term commitments in the past and see them fail. What we aim to do with Daily Challenge is keep our members away from the all-or-nothing mentality: go to the gym 6 days a week or don’t work out at all. We want to empower our members by making them realize that it’s okay not to become an athlete or a gym addict; what matters is to take one step toward a more active lifestyle today.”

To connect these dots, so to speak, MeYou Health draws on the pioneering research of Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler, who found that behaviors — good ones like quitting smoking, or bad ones like obesity — can be spread, virus-like, through our social networks. The “contagion” of positive behavioral changes is at the core of MeYou Health products like Daily Challenge, Community Clash, and Change Reaction, where your social networks are engaged to support your efforts, while at the same time you can encourage your friends and family to join and improve their own well-being.

“Feedback and member posts have demonstrated again and again how helpful these social interactions are to our members,” says Poirier. “We also see that members who have a close circle of connections within Daily Challenge — friends and family — tend to complete more challenges than those who do not.”

“If we affect our friends, and they affect their friends, then our actions can potentially affect people we have never met,” write Christakis and Fowler in their book, Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives. “We discovered that if your friend’s friend’s friend gained weight, you gained weight. We discovered that if your friend’s friend’s friend stopped smoking, you stopped smoking.

And we discovered that if your friend’s friend’s friend became happy, you became happy.” So, by completing your Daily Challenges, “climbing” Mt. Everest with Monumental, or eating your daily recommended intake of fruits and veggies with Munch-5-a-Day, you’re not only changing your life for the better but possibly your friends’, too — heck, maybe even your roommate’s brother’s cousin in Cleveland!

Topics: Healthy Living Change Reaction Community Clash Small Steps Health Prevention Stages of Change MeYou Health Path to Well-Being Munch 5-a-Day Wellness Monumental Daily Challenge Paths to Behavior Changes Connected: The Surprising Power of Social Networks well-being wire BJ Fogg James Prochaska wellbeing wire Nicholas Christakis James Fowler Small Action Man Well-Being Social Well-Being

How to Make the Time for Exercise

Jennifer Rudloff

We all know that exercise is good for us and is something we should do. However, we often forget or play victim to the excuse, “I just don’t have enough time.” Perhaps we overlook all that exercise has to offer us. Exercise does much more than make us look in shape - it can improve our quality of life, personally and professionally, in many many ways. As stated in our previous post those who exercise regularly see substantial differences in all of the WBI domains and rake in the benefits of feeling well rested, less stressed and overall more satisfied with their jobs. With that being said, in 2010 only 51.1% of Americans exercised regularly according to the WBI. So, how do we improve that number and overcome the phrase “I just don’t have enough time.”

In today’s fast- paced world we know exercise often drops to the bottom of our lists. To make sure that does not happen, and that exercise becomes part of our daily routine, we have come up with a list of ways you can incorporate it into your daily lives. Whether it is big or small – every little bit will help!

  1. When you’ve finished your lunch, don’t just sit there for the remainder of the break. Get up and walk around for 15/20 minutes. You’ll feel refreshed and it will give you an excuse to enjoy the nice summer weather outside.
  2. We live in the age of DVR. Instead of spending that 30 minutes to an hour on the couch watching a must see show – tape it and go for a run/walk around the block. It will be there when you get back.
  3. If you drive to work, don’t waste your time trying to find the closest available parking spot. Park far away from your detestation to get in some walking time and always take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  4. Don’t have time to work on those abs or biceps? Make the most of your TV time andgrab that exercise ball or any other at home workout accessories and do yourcircuits in front of the TV.
  5. If you own a treadmill or exercise bike, place them in front of your TV.
  6. Wake up in the morning and can’t fall back asleep? Get up and go for a morning jog.
  7. Don’t put off your outside chores. Mow the lawn, or plant new flowers. Your body will truly benefit.
  8. Get your family to participate with you. Round up the family and go for a walk at the end of the day. This will be a perfect opportunity to catch up on everybody’s day while getting a workout.

What are you doing to help yourself incorporate exercise into your routine?

Topics: Healthy Living Exercise How To Stay Fit Fitness Health Wellness Well-Being