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Viewpoints from Erin Milliken

It seems like our “new normal” under coronavirus (COVID-19) is going to be here for a while. What’s weighing heavily on my mind is that orders to shelter in place inadvertently pose a different threat to our physical health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity and two or more days of muscle-strengthening activities per week. And a recent poll shows negative behaviors such as overeating and additional alcohol consumption while on lockdown are on the rise. Employers need to get ahead of this trend and be creative when promoting physical activity and health.

No Gym, No Problem 

Local gyms are closed, so share some suggestions to help employees make their at-home workouts just as effective – you can find free workouts to share online and on YouTube.

Free Apps 

Most folks have mobile devices so take advantage – employees can track their nutrition, physical activity and stay connected. MyFitnessPal is a calorie-tracking app that offers over 350 exercises. StepUp allows users to track steps by integrating their pedometer, create group challenges and invite friends.

Wellness Vendor Options

There are hundreds of wellness vendors in the ever-changing marketplace. Wellbeats offers on-demand, virtual fitness resources and announced they are offering free unlimited access to all their content through April. HealthyWage offers weight loss and step challenges. Members can sign up for challenges and pay an entry fee (employers may cover the cost) and winners are provided cash prizes. Fitbit not only offers activity tracking devices but offers a corporate solution for employee activity challenges, a coaching dashboard and much more.

Health Plan Resources 

Carriers typically offer free health and wellbeing resources such as mobile apps that integrate with a pedometer, provide digital coaching for a variety of health behaviors, and offer a library of health-related articles. Employees may also have concerns about where to go for care, so emphasize the importance of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and telemedicine options while you have their attention.

Social Media 

This is a time when a lot of employees may feel alone. Create a Facebook group and encourage your employees to connect and increase their physical activity. Social media forums are a great tool – engage employees further by sharing workouts and other important resources here.

Whatever route you choose to take with your employee communications during this global health crisis, be sure to communicate something.

Effective communication with your workforce is more important now than ever. Your employees may feel helpless and alone right now – they’ll appreciate that their employer cares enough about their wellbeing to keep them active, healthy and informed.

The EPIC Wellness & Health Management practice will continue to share ways to support the social, physical and community wellbeing of your workforce during these uncertain times. My colleague, Craig Schmidt, recently wrote about the importance of dispelling panic and misinformation around the virus. Stay tuned for more from us.

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Erin Milliken

Wellness Consultant - Houston, TX