Sunday, December 3, 2023

Creating a fit Indiana

By Oseye Boyd

Every year, Hoosiers across the state vow to make changes that will lead to a healthier lifestyle. Fitness centers swell with new members, department stores discount exercise equipment and fitness gear as people try to stick to their resolutions. As many people have realized, sticking to those resolutions is sometimes easier said than done. Even the most well thought out plan runs into difficulty when there are late nights at work, after school activities for children or even illness. Life is good for throwing a curveball or two.

Thankfully, many companies across the state are stepping in to help employees lead more healthful lives. It’s a trend that continues to grow as more executives realize the payoffs don’t just reduce insurance costs for the company and employees, but healthier employees are more productive, alert and miss fewer days due to illness.

Onsite fitness centers, clinics, rewards programs and gym membership discounts are just a few ways Indiana employers help employees live a lifestyle of wellness. Many companies offer free biometric screenings, which not only reduce the cost of insurance for an individual, but also provide employees with those all-important numbers — blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose, etc. The screenings not only provide data but also offer educational tools to either improve or maintain the numbers. 

Sure, some may consider these efforts to be selfish on the part of employers since getting employees healthier is better for the bottom line, but for many company leaders, it goes beyond saving the company a few dollars. Many business leaders realize Indiana’s obesity rates are a public health concern, and they want to not only be an integral part of improving health outcomes for their employees but the state in general.

According to The State of Obesity, Indiana had the 12th highest obesity rate in the country for adults at 33.6 percent and 11th highest for children ages 10 to 17 in 2017. Across the state, 32.1 percent of whites are obese as are 42.2 percent of Blacks and 28.2 percent of Latinos. When it comes to gender, the obesity rate for men and women is almost identical, 33.5 percent and 33.7 percent respectively.

The problem with obesity is it often leads to other medical issues such as diabetes and cardiovascular conditions — illnesses that affect quality of life. Not only do chronic conditions affect your physical health, they affect your mental health as well. 

I’m glad to see more employers and insurers are beginning to place just as much emphasis on mental health as physical health. We now know many people are struggling with depression, stress or other mental health issues that affect their overall well being. These issues likely affect work. We also know exercise not only improves physical health, it also improves mental health. This is why it’s so important to take care of our bodies. Everything is connected and works in tandem for improved outcomes. A healthy diet gives you the fuel you need to exercise and exercise impacts your body and mind. You sleep better when you exercise. A good night’s rest means you wake up the next day ready to take on the challenges ahead.

While I’m glad we have so many fitness apps and other technologically advanced tools to help us meet our exercise goals, get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, etc., having fancy equipment isn’t a requirement. What is required is that you enjoy your fitness routine. You’re more likely to stick to something you like. The idea is to move, move more and have fun doing it.

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