A new study has been released looking at the ways to increase your number of “disease-free years” as you age. The researchers analysed different combinations of lifestyle factors to see how they correlate with the number of disease-free years an individual has in their lifetime. What they found is that of 16 different lifestyle profiles studied, the 4 that were associated with the greatest disease-free years all included a body mass index (BMI) lower than 25 and at least 2 of these 3 factors: never smoking, regular physical activity and moderate alcohol consumption. The diseases that these factors help delay or ward off are type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and cancer. Needless to say, if you want to live a long and healthy life, making sure your own life fits into this profile is important. If you are an employer, you can promote this type of lifestyle to your employees in a number of different ways.
You can use your corporate wellness program to target these factors and help your employees increase their disease-free years. First, let’s look at lowering individuals’ BMI. Basically, this is done by losing unhealthy weight if their BMI is 25 or higher. While there are many fads to losing weight, science proves that the most effective way to lose weight and keep it off is through regular exercise and proper nutrition.
Incorporating regular exercise can be as simple as having an activity challenge to get participants to think about physical activity daily. You can also host workout classes or sponsor gym memberships. Exercise will not only help lower employees’ BMI but also is one of the other factors on its own that helps increase the number of disease-free years. Get your employees moving, and check off 2 of the 4 important lifestyle factors!
To incorporate proper nutrition into your workplace, make sure that healthy meal and snack options are available. Instead of complimentary donuts for breakfast, try fresh fruit and yogurt. Instead of cake and ice cream to celebrate birthdays, opt for healthier treats. Also, providing some type of course on nutrition could be a great way to support your employees who are interested in nurturing better eating habits.
The last two factors to consider are: never smoking and moderate consumption of alcohol. While these are very personal decisions made by individuals, there still are a few things you can do to help your employees. The first piece is education. A wellbeing course that mentions the risks of smoking and alcohol and clearly directs individuals on what the proper amount of alcohol is, could be a smart idea to include in your wellbeing program. You could also think about how much alcohol makes up a part of your company culture. If lunchtime drinks and after work stops at the bar are big on your team, maybe try a company challenge where you go one week a month without drinks at work.
While you cannot control all of these factors for your employees, creating an environment where employees can make healthy decisions for themselves is important. Also, promoting these healthier lifestyle options can potentially save your employees from life-altering diseases.