Wellness is the hype of the day. Americans continue to become heavier and diabetes is on the rise. The implications of these trends are becoming very well documented and understood. Comorbidities are the talk of the town as we begin to understand the impact they have on claims and productivity. Everyone is now focusing on wellness, and if you aren't, you will be soon. There has been a significant focus on health and wellness in this country for many years, so why do the health trends continue in the wrong direction? Shouldn't we be making improvements? Shouldn't we be seeing less obesity and less diabetes, lower claim costs, and a healthier workforce? What are we doing wrong?
We will review some of the fundamental reasons why many of the past and current efforts to improve health and wellness have not been effective, shedding light on some of the misconceptions and even misled direction we have been provided for years regarding how to promote health improvement. We understand that stress affects our health, but do we really appreciate the degree of its impact? Much of the information we've been given regarding diet has confused us, or led us to even less healthy options. We certainly underestimate the role of sleep in the development of chronic illnesses. We have always been told to exercise more, but is exercise alone enough to overcome our sedentary lifestyle? Some of the latest evidence and new findings on the root causes of many of these epidemic health outcomes are shared, providing insight into why we have been off track and how we now have the opportunity to reorient our focus and achieve real results.
Beyond the general implications for the health of our workforce, the current health trend has specific and significant implications for ergonomics risk levels in our organizations, which lead to higher claim costs, more severe injuries, continued health decline, and ultimately a decrease in productivity. Understanding the implications for ergonomics and its role within the wellness movement is a critical first step in changing direction and gaining support for initiatives that will truly focus our attention on evidence based knowledge and information that can obtain results. With the right information in hand, our employees can make decisions that will impact their health in a sustainable way.