What is Wellness?
Wellness is personal. Wellness is something each and every one of us has to think about in our lives. We all want to live a long and healthy life with low stress, but we all tend to think about personal wellness in different ways. In my case, I tend to look at my own health relative to others in my age group. It’s a sobering idea to face that by my 50th high school reunion, about 25% of my class will have died. In order to avoid becoming part of that statistic, I look at my capacity to perform tasks such as work, exercise, and accomplishing other things in life that are important to me.
Defining Wellness for Different Groups
Recently, I was asked to analyze wellness programs for a client. Our team looks at costs, function, ROI, and all the other things that a consultant should look at, but, unfortunately, often what is truly important is left out of the equation: what wellness really means to us. Often, the subject is simply how to keep healthcare costs down.
Before I tell you what I think about the subject, I’d like to invite you to e-mail us about your personal concept of wellness. I’m sure this concept is very different to members of a football team than to an office worker, for example.
For a football team wellness is about conditioning, keeping body fat low, increasing speed, and keeping a healthy diet. In my football days, we were given steaks, no water at practice, lots of potatoes, and pie with ice cream. Obviously a few things have changed since then. For others, it’s a fat free diet, low sugar and carbs, aerobic exercise, and stress management programs like yoga. Some programs emphasize biometric markers with high cost lab panels.
When you define a wellness program, it’s personal, just like defining the ideal car. The thirty year old stock broker may define it as a sports car, while the hockey mom may want a mini van. My question is, what are the consistencies that should be in every wellness program, and do those factors help the general population achieve wellness?
In my view, these are some of the factors that we need:
1. Consistency. The program must run over a fairly stable population over a period of years.
2. Incentives. Achievable, incentivized goals are essential.
3. Education. The population needs to have a pathway to achieving the goals.
4. Defined goals. There must be an individual and aggregate goal by which to measure achievement. This is not only monetary (lower insurance rates), but also involves goals like eradication of diabetes and pre-diabetes.
5. Affordability. Time off of work to devote and promote wellness must be able to be sustained by the company in terms of cost.
6. Buy In. If the top level does not want to contribute to a healthy population, it’s likely to fail.
We all know that a well-balanced diet and exercise are good for us, yet our population becomes more unhealthy by the year. Drugs are ingested like candy (ever ask a kid what a “Skittles party” is?) and only 11% of diagnosed abusers are in treatment. High fructose corn syrup and glucose make for low cost foods only to be paid for on the back end by heart disease and other illnesses. People use excuses for why they don’t (“I don’t have time.”).
In order to figure out a wellness program that works for you, you must determine your goals and how you want to achieve them. By dedicating yourself to your own personal wellness and making it a priority in your life, you are probably able to create the best program of them all.
Neil is a principal owner of ARCpoint Labs of Chicago, a company engaged in wellness and clinical programs, drug and alcohol testing. Neil has practiced law in Chicago and has consulted to clients for wellness benefits.
Contact ARCpoint Labs or visit us at www.mylabtestchicago.com for your wellness program evaluation.