Thursday, November 7, 2013

Get Active?

Get Active! What does that mean to you? Get off the couch?  Take a walk?  Go to the gym? For me, it’s a program we’re running at work to get folks moving.  We, as a company, are self-insured, meaning we pay the medical bills for employees insured through our health care plans, though we pay an insurance company a fee to administer the plan for us. So, when someone pays a $20 co-pay, it’s actually my employer who pays the remainder.

You can understand, then, that the company has a vested interest in having healthy employees. Yes, we all pay insurance premiums which come out of our paychecks, but the company is paying the lion’s share of the expense. Starting last year, if you got an annual physical, which our plan covers by the way, you got a discount on your premium. We’ve learned that early diagnosis can significantly cut medical bills in the long run, so identifying high blood pressure or cholesterol through a physical pays off not only for individuals but for the company.
This year if we watched a video on controlling health care costs, we got an additional discount. Think about it.  When you’re only paying the $20 co-pay, how much attention do you really pay to your doctor’s bill?  And how closely do you read your hospital bill?  Not as much as you probably did years ago when the bill came to you. Having employees be more aware of the bills and maybe even shopping around can be a huge help.
Get Active! is a new program this year that rewards us for, you guessed it, getting active.  Right now, we’re running an eight-week competition to exercise at least 140 minutes/week and/or walk 56,000 steps/week. Once you signed up, you got a pedometer. We were encouraged to form teams, and in my department, we have ten teams competing. We have team names like the Thumpers, the Roadrunners, and the HolyWalkamolies, and we all have team mascots.  We’re having fun with this, and there’s a bit of trash talk going back and forth.
If you achieve one of these goals for four of the eight weeks, you can choose either a Fitbitz or a $40 Amazon gift card. Pretty cool incentives, don’t you think? I am happy to say I earned my gift card in the first four weeks. Of course, if you read my blog regularly, you know I’m pretty darned active anyway.
 I chose to compete in the minutes category, though, not the steps. I simply don’t walk or jog that far on any regular basis.  I do get a ton of steps on the days I bicycle, but I usually only do that once a week.  Did you know that it takes approximately 2,000 steps to equal one mile? And, if you do the math, you know you have to take 8,000 steps a day to hit 56,000 a week. Just going up and down the steps to get coffee, fix meals, wash clothes, and all my other daily activities gets me about 3,000 steps.  The days I work out at the gym or go to yoga, I make maybe 5,000 to 6,000.  Apparently doing squats and lifting weights just doesn’t add up like plain old walking and jogging.
This program is offered to promote healthy habits.  Folks are finding that being aware of your activity or lack of it can motivate you to move a little more.  And, of course, the hope is that being more active will make you more health conscious and ultimately healthier. We’re blogging about it at work, and my teammates are saying it’s paying off for them already.  Even if you don’t hit the goal and get a gift, you just might get the reward of better health.  Not too shabby.