Study indicates standing may help employees stay focused and healthy

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News - Employee Wellness

Tuesday, 09 August 2011 16:00

Study indicates standing may help employees stay focused and healthyA recent study by insurance provider Health Partners found that employees who were able to shift between sitting and standing throughout the day were more active and productive. Of those surveyed, 87 percent indicated they were more comfortable with the ability to stand, and the same percentage stated they felt more energized.

Participants used pedometers, and were found to stand 67 more minutes per day, as well as averaging more steps taken each day. These factors caused workers to burn more calories each day. The increased calorie use from standing and walking may decrease the risk of excess body fat, cardiovascular problems and other health-related issues.

Increased physical activity may improve employee wellness, attitudes and productivity in addition to, and because of, the health benefits. This study showed that over half of the participants noted increased feelings of well-being, focus, happiness and productivity.

Many workplace activities may require sitting, and employees frequently sit while commuting as well. To compensate for the difficulty, wellness programs may include devices like the HeartMath emWave2®, a handheld interactive stress relief device.

The emWave2® reads heart rhythms through a sensor on the finger or ear, and gives feedback that helps the user synchronize breathing to reduce the negative effects of stress

Johns Hopkins doctors are arguing for health insurance mandate

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News - Health Care Costs

Tuesday, 09 August 2011 16:00

Johns Hopkins doctors are arguing for health insurance mandateLegislators continue to grapple over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act's mandate on health insurance for all U.S. residents, but a team of doctors at Johns Hopkins Medicine claim that the provision will improve public health and reduce healthcare costs.

In a commentary published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the authors said that the disparities in healthcare coverage for individuals has resulted in a system that is "unfair, inequitable and unsustainable."

If all individuals have health insurance, it may have a significant impact on the wellness of the entire country.

"We know from research that patients with insurance are more likely to have physicians routinely involved in coordinating their care, are more apt to receive regular screening and preventative services, and have an increased life expectancy," said co-author Scott Berkowitz.

Additionally, they noted that the $73 billion in uncovered costs from 2008 resulted in a $1,000 annual increase in premiums for the average American family.

The commentary suggests that organizations that provide comprehensive employee health benefits to their workers may help ensure a smooth transition for healthcare reform. Moreover, these companies will also likely benefit from improved employee wellness and reduced workplace stress as a result of a healthy staff.  

Self-help author offers some quick ways to alleviate stress

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News - Workplace Stress

Tuesday, 09 August 2011 16:00

Self-help author offers some quick ways to alleviate stressFinding respite from life's stressors doesn't need to involve taking a vacation or even walking away from the desk for an hour. Some techniques take just minutes to bring stress down to a manageable level.

Self-help author Lauren Miller said that individuals should not ignore their signs of stress, but take proactive efforts to bring themselves back to a state of calm.

"Stress is a signal within your body giving you the opportunity to identify and adjust your perception of any situation. You can take back your ability to maintain inner peace no matter what surrounds you when you make the choice to infuse your day with stress-relief practices," Miller said.

One technique she recommends is to imagine shaking stress from the body when a trigger presents itself. Miller said that visualizing the feelings of anxiety as they leave the body through a quick shake can have a meaningful effect.

Additionally, she said that quick bouts of exercise - such as a 60-second round of sit ups - can recharge the body and mind.

Employee wellness programs that provide tools and resources for stress management can also make a significant impact on anxiety in the office.  

Stanford study finds interrupted sleep impairs memory

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News - Wellness News

Tuesday, 09 August 2011 16:00

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Stanford study finds interrupted sleep impairs memoryA recent study by Stanford scientists found that when sleep is interrupted, memory may be impaired. The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used a new method to awaken subjects without causing stress, since stress may affect memory as well.

The technique used light to affect certain brain cells, triggering mice to awaken without otherwise disturbing them. This allowed researchers to study the affects of sleep interruptions without affecting other factors, like total sleep time.

"Regardless of the total amount of sleep, a minimal unit of uninterrupted sleep is crucial for memory consolidation," the authors wrote. The result was expected, since people with some neurological and psychiatric conditions that affect sleep continuity have been found to have memory deficits.

Further research is necessary to determine how much sleep and what sort of interruptions interfere with human memory, but the research indicated sleep interruptions are the cause of memory impairment, as suspected.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one major cause of sleeping difficulties is stress. If workplace stress interrupts sleep and leads to memory impairment, employee performance may suffer as a result. Wellness programs can help employees manage and reduce anxiety, encouraging better performance.

Airline employees may be in need of stress reduction

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News - Workplace Stress

Tuesday, 09 August 2011 16:00

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Airline employees may be in need of stress reductionA column in the Seattle Times speculated on why flight attendants are becoming an increasingly hostile group of workers, in light of a new report that placed airline companies among the top worst performers due to poor customer service.

According to the American Customer Satisfaction index, airlines make up half of the top 10 worst-performing companies in the nation, reflecting less-than-stellar employee performance, wrote Christopher Elliott.

However, the fault may not lie completely on their shoulders.

"Flight attendants are under a great deal of stress because of increased security threats, continually changing federal regulations, bankruptcies, furloughs, salary cuts and loss of pensions and benefits," Elliott noted.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee wrote a report about rudeness on the job. The authors said that hostility is often the result of intense workplace stress. Conversely, a well-performing staff likely stems from organization policies that ensure employee wellness.

Employee wellness programs that offer tools and resources for stress management have been shown to improve a company's employee performance as well as reduce workplace stress.  

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