The Benefits Of Fitness And Activity Trackers In The Workplace

Millions of Americans use wearable devices to monitor their health and fitness. Sensors on these devices track everything from body movements to heart rate and even blood pressure. They also include audible alarms to remind users to stay active throughout the day.

The focus of these devices up to now has been on individuals interested in working toward specific health and fitness goals; however, wellness initiatives are incorporating technology progressively more into their programs with the aim to improve overall employee health. I’ve been a user of personal technology for years. Specifically, I enjoy tracking my daily activity, exercise and more with my own fitness tracker. As a CEO of a business focused on offering employees health options, I know that this is vital.

Many companies are already jumping on the wearable technology bandwagon. Glassdoor reported in December 2017 that an estimated 13 million wearable fitness and activity-tracking devices were projected for workplace wellness programs in 2018 — a dramatic upswing from 200,000 devices just a few years ago.

Employers are creating more and more benefit programs that focus on wellness with initiatives that support physical health. Many of these are being developed in partnership with health insurers to provide access to activity and wellness devices, along with program designs that are cost-effective to manage for employees. Ultimately, this method leads to a more productive workforce. Plus, it also appeals to prospective employees during the important recruitment process, as job postings now exceed the nation’s unemployment rate.

There are a number of benefits for employers who partner with their health insurer to increase the access to health and activity trackers in the workplace. The top benefits are:

• A Culture Focused On Health And Well-Being: For many years, work environments have made productivity and profits the top priorities, while health and wellness received little to no attention. The good news is that the advent of fitness and activity trackers, along with other wellness devices tied to specific outcomes and insurance requirements, have moved health to the forefront of workplace culture. This, in turn, creates a stronger sense of camaraderie, happiness and overall employee retention.

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• Enhanced Chronic Disease Management: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 84 million Americans — more than one out of three — have prediabetes. Of those, 90% do not realize they have it. Another 30.3 million adults in America are living with diabetes. It is the seventh leading cause of death in the country. High blood pressure is another chronic disease that requires constant monitoring and management.

Fitness trackers allow people to monitor their physical activity, what they are eating on a daily basis and more. This can lead to improved overall health and, ultimately, increased productivity due to a decreased rate of workplace absences related to illnesses and other ailments.

• Incentivize Healthy Habits: The rising use of smartphone apps with built-in incentives, such as points or badges, has turned health monitoring into a game. In fact, both small and large companies have taken the of gamification and expanded it further by putting programs in place that incentivize healthy employee habits. For example, an app that emphasizes accountability, while also encouraging movement toward a common goal, creates competition and, in the end, more engaged employees.

• Health Care Cost Savings: A report released last year by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that premiums for single employees rose 4%, while family health care premiums increased 3%. Coupling wearable technology with employer-sponsored workplace health and wellness programs can help to offset these rising costs. For example, a more physically active workforce may not need to see a doctor as frequently. As a result, employees — and, possibly, their spouse and kids — may have a reduced need for a robust — and often, costlier — health insurance plan. That translates to possible significant savings to the employee and employer.

Technology will continue to play an important role in overall employee health for years to come. Workplace-based wellness programs coupled with personal technology can lead to significant cost savings for both employers and employees while also helping to create a more engaged and healthier workforce.

Oprah Winfrey Uses the Same 3 Sentences to Get Every Meeting Off to the Perfect Start

Many meetings limp to a start. The group sits waiting for people to straggle in late. Others want to keep chatting about “important” but unrelated topics: The dreaded “since I have you here” move that turns the group’s agenda into a personal one. Still others keep texting and emailing while the leader struggles to get everyone focused.

That’s a huge problem, since meetings that get off to a slow start rarely recover.

Brendon Burchard, the author of High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way, says Oprah starts every meeting the same way: She says:

“What is our intention for this meeting? What’s important? What matters?”

Why does she start a meeting that way?

High performers constantly seek clarity. They work hard to sift out distractions so they can not just focus, but continually re-focus, on what is important.

That’s because clarity isn’t something you get. Clarity is something you have to seek — you only find clarity and focus when you actively search for it.

Keep in mind, the same holds true on a personal level. Successful people don’t wait for an external trigger to start making changes. Successful people don’t wait until New Year’s, or until Monday, or until the first of the month — they decide what changes they want to make and they get started.

As Brandon says, a simple approach to seeking personal clarity is to focus on four things:

  • Self: How do you want to describe your ideal self?
  • Skills: What skills do you want to develop and demonstrate?
  • Social: How do you want to behave socially?
  • Service: What service do you want to provide?

Asking those questions — and answering those questions with action — more often than other people do will definitely give you an edge.

The same is true with meetings. Asking the right questions is everything.

That’s why no meeting agenda should include words like “information,” “recap,” “review,” or “discussion.” Productive meetings often have one-sentence agendas like, “Determine the product launch date,” or “Select software developer for database redesign.”

“Information?” Share it before the meeting. If you need to make a decision during a meeting, shouldn’t the group have the information they need ahead of time? Send documents, reports, etc., to participants in advance. Holding a meeting to share information is a terrible intention: It’s unproductive, wastes everyone’s time, and it’s lazy.

Great meetings result in decisions: What. Who. When.

All of which are much easier to get when you start a meeting the right way: by clearly stating intentions — and then sticking to those intentions.

That’s how Oprah gets things done.

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7 Natural Memory Boosters That Actually Work for All Ages

Forgot a name? Misplaced your keys? Taking longer to find the right words? Don’t panic. There’s plenty you can do to improve your memory.

You’re probably expecting us to reveal 7 little known and newly discovered herbs from the forests of the Amazon, the peaks of the Himalayas and the Arctic tundra. No such luck.

Despite Americans spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on Ginkgo Biloba, Ashwagandha, Periwinkle, Bacopa, Vitamin B’s, Omega 3’s and memory boosting supplement cocktails, there is very little scientific evidence they actually work. [1]

Instead, we’re going to offer you 7 completely natural memory boosters, backed up by scientific research. It may take a little more effort than a magic memory pill, but the benefits will transcend your memory and improve your overall quality of life as well, making you more fit, energetic, happy and sharp.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. How Do We Remember?
  2. 7 Natural Memory Boosters
  3. Conclusion

How Do We Remember?

The first process in remembering is creating a memory.

This is where our brain sends a signal, associated with a thought, event or piece of information our mind is processing, over our brains neural pathways, called synapses.

Think of our neural pathways like roads and information like trucks. The better the roads, the more trucks can be driven.

The second step in remembering is memory consolidation.

Consolidation is when the brain takes that thought, event or piece of information and actually stores it in the brain. So now we’re talking about taking delivery of the trucks and storing its contents in the warehouse.

Consolidation helps us store information and label it properly, so its organized and easy to retrieve when needed.

The last step is memory retrieval.

That’s the step whereby we try to retrieve the information stored in our brains. You know when you have the name of someone on the tip of your tongue.

You have the information; it’s been stored, but you just can’t find it. Our memory recall is typically better the stronger the memory is and the more often we’ve used it.

Memory decline is a normal part of aging. However, new scientific research is discovering many new ways for us to improve memory creation, consolidation and retrieval–no matter our age.

7 Natural Memory Boosters

So how to work on memory and boost your brain power? Here’re 7 brain boosters backed by science that you should try:

1. Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic activity is about as close as we get to a magic pill for our memories. Exercise helps your brain create new capillaries and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which creates new brain cells and connections. To put it in plain english, aerobic activity changes our brains and helps it grow.

Studies have shown that exercising increases the size of the hippocampus and improves memory. In fact, even if you start exercising as an older adult, you can reverse cognitive decline by 1 to 2 years and protects against further decreases in the size of the hippocampus, which is essential for memory. [2]

In another study, reviewed by Dr. Ian Robertson of the University of Dublin, they looked at a group of people of 60 years and older, who engaged in “active walking” for four months.

They compared them with another group of people who only stretched over the same period of time. After testing both groups before and after the 4 month period, the walkers improved their memory and attention considerably more than the stretching group.

So which exercises are best and how much do we have to exercise?

Turns out, it doesn’t really matter whether you run, swim, row or bike. What does matter is that you push yourself beyond your current abilities, keep doing more, keep getting better. Set yourself short term goals and keep pushing the goal posts.

2. Sleep

You need your sleep. The deeper the better. Sleep helps improve your procedural memory (how to do things, like how do I navigate my iPhone) and declarative memory (facts, like what’s my password). [3]

Even short naps from 6 to 45 minutes have been shown to improve your memory. In one Harvard study, college students memorized pairs of unrelated words, memorized a maze and copied a complex form. All were tested on their work. Half were then allowed to take a 45 minute nap. They were then retested. Those who took a nap, got a boost in their performance. [4]

Another study showed that getting REM (deep) sleep can increase your memory and mental performance by 33% to 73%. Getting a deep sleep helps the brain consolidate memories through dreams and “associative processing”. However, the study also revealed that heart rate variability in deep sleep also contributed significantly to increased memory performance. [5]

3. MIND Diet

Healthy eating, particularly more dark colored fruit, vegetables and oily fish has been shown to improve memory and stave off cognitive decline.

The MIND diet is proven to reduce the risk of dementia. It’s a mix of the popular Mediterranean diet and the low blood pressure DASH diet. [6]

The study kept track of the diets of almost 1,000 older adults. They were followed for an average of 4½ years.

The study concluded that “people whose diets were most strongly in line with the MIND diet had brains that functioned as if they were 7½ years younger than those whose diets least resembled this eating style.”

The study also showed that people who followed the MIND diet in the study reduced their chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease in half.

So what does the MIND diet consist of? Lots of vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, berries, beans, fish, poultry, olive oil, whole grains and wine.

4. Relax

We all know that stress is bad for our health. It can raise our blood pressure, impact our immune system and interrupt our sleep. Stress also impairs our memory.

When our body gets stressed, it releases cortisol into our blood stream, which can cause short and long term physical changes to the brain. While cortisol has sometimes been shown to cause increases in short term memory, it can actually decrease our long term recall memory.

To help reduce the stress in your life, try relaxing with meditation, yoga or breathing exercises. Unplug–even for just a few hours. Stop checking your emails, social accounts and news. Release some endorphins with some exercise.

Bottom line, the more anxious and stressed we are, the less clearly we think, the poorer our memory works.

5. Continuous Learning

The mind is like a muscle. The more you challenge it, the stronger it gets. The more you learn, the more you can learn.

Research shows that learning can actually change the physical makeup of your brain. Not too long ago, we used to think that you were born with a fixed amount of brain cells, which declined with age. New research now shows that we can actually increase the number of brain cells we have throughout our life.

Aside from staying physically active, learning new skills and studying can actually keep our brains healthier. Consider taking a continuing education class, studying a new language, learning a new instrument, playing new card games. [7]

Studies show that the more complex the task, the more benefits for your mind. Simply showing up to class is not enough. You need to be actively engaged. Anything that forces you to focus and learn something new and get out of a rote routine will help you sharpen your mind and boost your memory.

6. Stay Social

The more deep and meaningful social connections you maintain, the more you protect your brain. Bottom line, the more friends you have, the more people you work with, the more you’re forced to use your brain.

Social isolation and loneliness are significant risks of dementia. Without interacting with others, our brains wilt. Isolation and loneliness lead to depression, physical and mental decline. [8]

In a 2016 study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, seniors with a full social calendar did better on memory, reasoning, and processing speed tests. [9]

What to do?

Party! Seriously, get together with friends as often as possible. Have family dinners. Choose social activities or sports like tennis, golf, cards or go for walks with a friend. Bottom line have fun, build meaningful social relationships and stay connected. Not only will it make your mind sharper and your memory better, you’ll be happier, too!

7. Wakeful Rest

This one is getting harder and harder to do. In a world where we can’t sit on a bus, go up an elevator or go to the bathroom without our phones, doing absolutely nothing to distract our minds is becoming increasingly difficult.

But, the results are in. Doing nothing is great for your memory. Quietly resting for 10 minutes, after you learn something will help you remember and help you create more detailed memories. [10]

What we do minutes after we learn something new has a significant impact on how well we retain the new information. In another study, it didn’t matter what you did after you learned something new, as long as you weren’t distracted by outside factors. In other words, you could be thinking of your day, making a grocery list, or thinking of a story. In either case, wakeful rest for a period of 10 minutes helped the brain process and consolidate your memories so that you were better able to recall the information at a later date. [11]

Conclusion

You don’t have to spend a dime on cocktails and supplements promising a quick boost to your memory power. There is very little conclusive scientific evidence suggesting supplements will help improve the memories of healthy individuals–not for Ginkgo Biloba, Vitamin B, fish oils, Vitamin D, Folate or other supplements claiming they a secret formula.

There are far cheaper and more effective ways to boost your memory: exercise, rest, eat well, learn, love, laugh and relax. Who wouldn’t want that prescription?

7 Essential Tips for Recruiting Millennials in 2019

Millennials are the future of your company.

This is fact, not fiction. Millennials (those born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s) are nearly half of our workforce, and those numbers will continue to grow as more baby boomers retire. Your company should evaluate its corporate culture and recruiting practices so it’s ready to attract the cream of the millennial crop.

The job market and economy have changed dramatically over the past few decades, and the rate of change is only picking up steam as we go forward. Businesses built to appeal to baby boomers are going to have a tough time attracting millennials because millennials value different things. Perks and corporate culture that would appeal to older applicants (even the Gen-Xers sandwiched between baby boomers and millennials) don’t appeal to these younger candidates.

If you want to more effectively recruit millennials, you should consider conducting a two-phase campaign.

Phase one is to actually become a desirable employer, not just label yourself as one. This has to be done first so that you can keep the candidates you recruit.

Tip #1: Create a sense of purpose

Millennials aren’t in it for the paycheck – not entirely, anyway. They prefer to work towards something, to have a purpose beyond simply making money.

Create strong vision and mission statements with meaningful goals. Then make sure your employees are aware of how their work advances those goals. Consistently drawing this line is key! In company meetings an emphasis on the importance of team members’ daily work should be a priority, as should individual performance reviews, employee recognition programs, and client outcome studies. Recognize that an informed and engaged employee is one who will more likely resist the millennials’ tendency to job-hop.

Tip #2: Support personal development

Contrary to popular belief, millennials do take the long view. But they think in terms of overall personal careers, not just their time at your company. Millennials are hungry to learn and grow and are less likely to stick around if they feel they’re stagnating.

Provide opportunities for millennials to get mentorship within the company. Create opportunities for them to develop their personal skills and advance professionally. When they’ve grown enough, make them mentors in turn.

Tip #3: Establish a work-life balance

Help millennials make progress in both their professional and personal lives.

Try loosening the boundaries between work and life – rigid compartmentalizing of schedules is no longer practical in today’s always-connected world. Offer more flexible scheduling; allow for more work-from-home opportunities, especially for parents.

Leverage today’s technology to boost productivity in non-traditional ways and throw in extra vacation time or in-office break activities to reduce stress and restore focus.

These first three tips may take some doing, and there may be some change management involved, but the effort will improve your employer brand and make you far more attractive to the millennials you want to hire and retain.

Now that you’ve looked inward to prepare your organization for a millennial workforce, you can move on to the second phase: actually reaching out to potential candidates.

Tip #4: Use Social Media

According to research, 88% of 18- to 29-year-olds use social media in some form. Companies with an active social media presence can announce postings using a social media channel, which will get the attention of interested millennials.

However, before you make the announcement be sure that your online brand is healthy and garners enough engagement for your job ad to get noticed. Go on Glassdoor.com to see what people are saying about your company and respond to their feedback in a professional and constructive manner.

Tip #5: Hang out on their turf

If you know the type of talent you’re looking for, you can figure out where to find them. Check out venues such as industry conferences, expos, community events, online user groups, and the like. You’ll meet fresh prospects and have a chance to increase awareness of your company among these potential future candidates. With effective networking skills, you’ll also be able to reach other people that your initial contact can refer you to.

Tip #6: School job fairs

Diversify your recruiting efforts beyond job postings. Job fairs offer excellent opportunities to meet potential candidates for a range of internships and entry-level positions. When you go, be prepared to talk about the company and its culture; know in advance which positions you’re looking to fill and the skills and qualities that would be the right fit. Also, take the time to listen carefully to the questions you get asked – you’ll learn a lot about what’s on the minds of millennials!

Tip #7: Alumni associations

Job fairs aren’t the only way schools can help. Alumni offices often assist graduates with job placements even long after the actual graduation ceremony. Reach out to the alumni office with your needs and they will help connect you with their network.

Remember, doing a good job of recruiting millennials may require you to rethink how you do things, but it’s a wise move if you want your company to remain competitive. With an open mind and a willingness to try new things – from both corporate culture and recruiting perspective – you can attract the millennial talent your company will need to stay on top of its game as the next decades unfold.

Private Health Services Plans

An HSA (Private Health Services Plan) is a Canada Revenue Agency approved method to provide medical, dental, and vision benefits in a tax efficient manner. A corporation can write off 100% of the costs related to its HSA and all expenses reimbursed are tax-free to the employees.

Medical, dental, and vision are the standard categories offered to employees in an HSA.