Championing Health In The Workplace

When it comes to health hazards, doctors warn sitting is the new smoking. Parking ourselves in front of a computer for eight hours a day to work on bettering health care is at best contradictory and at worst deadly. A recent Kaiser Permanente study ties sedentary behaviors to heart failure in men.

It is clear we need to prioritize movement during the work day. But how? The Washington Post has a few ideas, ranging from the subtle (“hamstring curl”) to the potentially dangerous (“chair dips”).

Kaiser Permanente’s Ted Eytan, M.D., family physician director at the Center for Total Health and walking meeting guru, makes a compelling case for taking business outside. Through several community partnerships, Kaiser Permanente’s Everybody Walk! campaign promotes walking as the simplest way to improve health at minimal cost.

plank 1 At ACHP’s office in D.C., we’ve begun a tradition of 60-second planks in the conference room. Nearly every afternoon since early January, staff members kick off shoes and lie on the floor gasping through an informal core strength challenge. Those with extra breath even spend the minute chatting and catching up. Some follow their plank with pushups or yoga poses. Our planking routine constitutes a five-minute break to engage our bodies and indulge in a little conversation.

Likewise, ACHP member plans champion health not only in their communities but in their work spaces. Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan (CDPHP) in Albany offers access to an on-site fitness center where yoga, Zumba, spinning, power-sculpting and cross-training classes are led three to five times a day. Earlier this month, Martin’s Point Health Care hosted blood pressure checks and group walks in honor of National Walking Day.plank 2

Last summer, Pittsburgh’s UPMC Health Plan was recognized for the fifth year in a row as one of the country’s Best Employers for Healthy Lifestyles by the National Business Group on Health. In recent years, UPMC employees have committed to wellness and collectively decreased tobacco use and improved blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Madison’s Dean Health Plan was similarly awarded a Platinum Well Workplace Award by the Wellness Council of American. Dean’s campus features a disc golf course and morning wellness walk program. Each year, employees train for a Dean-sponsored 5k with an on-site “Couch to 5k” training program.

The American Heart Association recognized Buffalo’s Independent Health as a Platinum-Level Fit-Friendly Worksite. Independent Health’s Wellness Department encourages healthy behaviors through FitWorks, an online tool that allows employees to track points they earn for meeting healthy goals.

Tell us how your office counteracts the sedentary lifestyle by tweeting us at @_ACHP. And next time you see ACHP staff at a conference or on the Hill, make sure to take note of our six-packs.

– Sophie Schwadron