U.S Corporations Ignoring Greatest Risk to Employee Health & Global Competitiveness: Inactivity
Summary: Companies are searching for ways to improve the health of chronically ill employees to cut health care costs and improve profitability. Chronic disease such as diabetes, obesity, depression, cancer and heart disease are on their radar screen and wellness programs designed to address obesity are growing rapidly. While helpful, these programs will fall short unless they address the number one health risk factor today: inactivity.
Health care costs can be as much as 40% higher for obese employees due to related health issues such as asthma, diabetes, back conditions, depression and heart disease according to Emory University’s Center on Health Outcomes and Quality. As a result, companies have increased measures to stem the tide of obesity including on-site well checks, wellness coaching, gym memberships, and chronic chronic-care plans. Though well intentioned and necessary these programs are ignoring a critical component of the nation’s health risks: sedentarism. TrekDesk Treadmill Desks offer a solution to help employees restore health, prevent disease, boost mood & productivity and cut health care costs by integrating movement into the work day.
“While many of the measures incorporated by firms to improve employee health are vital they continue to ignore the single largest risk factor for the development of chronic disease: inactivity,” states Steve Bordley, CEO of TrekDesk Treadmill Desks. “Employers must recognize that chronic health issues are not the sole domain of obese employees. Thin people get sick too. The common denominator is inactivity and it can not be cured with a 30 minute visit to the gym.”
Researchers at universities across the country including LSU’s Pennington Center for Biomedical Research bear this out, stating that employees can not undue the health damage of sitting for eight hours a day with a trip to the gym. In fact lead researcher Dr. Marc Hamilton has coined a new phrase to characterize this misconception calling gym attending, sedentary office workers “active couch potatoes”.
There is no doubt that programs supporting healthy diets, weight regulation and smoking cessation are valuable to employers however recent research has compared the dangers of sitting to those of smoking with increased risks of cancers, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes; even among height weight proportionate employees. Yet sitting remains under the radar screen as a health risk for most employers.
“The science is out there but it is largely ignored in offices and schools across the county. We have to launch an educational campaign that touts the simple health restorative value of daily movement or we are dooming ourselves to a future of ill health,” added Bordley.