Monday, October 12, 2015

'Tis The Season; FLU SEASON

As I’m writing this I look out the window and can’t help but notice the leaves changing color on the trees from the lush green of summer to the orange, yellow, and brown of fall.  The trees themselves are looking a lot more bare than normal as the leaves quickly vanish from their branches and get blown around by that cool fall breeze.  We all know this season all too well up north.  It comes with colder weather, warmer clothes, and those pumpkin spice drinks that everyone seems to like.  This season also marks the start of the cold and flu season.

One of the main reasons the cold and flu spread so much this time of year is that we are spending much more time inside with others.  So what can you do to protect yourself against the flu?  According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are six easy things that can help prevent the spread of the flu virus.

1.    Avoid close contact
·         This is pretty simple; just keep your distance from someone who may be sick.   If you yourself are sick, be respectful toward others and kindly avoid getting to close or touching them.
2.    Stay home when you are sick
·         This is an expansion of tip number one.  When you can feel yourself coming down with the flu, take some time off or stay home from school.  Your co-workers or classmates will really appreciate it.
3.    Cover your mouth and nose
·         I don’t see this as often as I should, but when you have to sneeze or cough, try to use a tissue or at least use your inner elbow.  Do not use your hands to cover your cough, which will only help spread the flu.
4.    Clean your hands
·         This is a big one and probably the one you hear about the most.  During cold and flu season and in general, good hand washing practices will help prevent you from getting sick as well as help prevent others from getting sick.
5.    Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth 
·         When you come into contact with the flu virus it is usually through touching something with your hands.   You can become sick when your hand touches something that allows the virus to get inside you, such as your eyes, nose or mouth.  So along with handwashing avoiding touching these areas will greatly reduce your chances of getting the flu.
6.    Practice other good health habits.
·         This tip is pretty broad, but all things stated here will help keep you healthy this winter.  Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces, be active, get plenty of sleep, manage your stress, drink plenty of water, and eat right.

The CDC also mentions getting a flu shot.  There is no way of knowing how helpful it will be as the flu virus is constantly mutating, but if it could save you from feeling miserable for a few days it might be worth the time, effort and money to get one.  Stay healthy this winter and as always make it a safe Monday!

Dale Bromenshenkel
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company

Monday, October 5, 2015

Exercise In The Workplace


With the advancement in technology that our generation has been subject to, it is easy to see how our lives have grown into a more “comfortable” way of life. Processes and tasks that once required physical work and time have been made easier and can be completed with the touch of a finger, literally! Although convenient and efficient, this newfound lifestyle is taking a toll on health problems as the number of office workers grows. By having opportunities available at work, it can lead to greater health in all employees, increase job performance and also save significant health care costs.

Exercise is important as it has multiple benefits on not only our physical side but mental as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that physical programs:

·         Reduce feelings of depression
·         Improve stamina and strength
·         Reduce obesity and particularly when combined with diet
·         Reduce risks of cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure, cholesterol, stroke, and type 2 diabetes)

In addition, physical activity can lift one’s mood naturally as studies have proven that exercise can relieve anxiety and depression, boost energy, and promote a greater sense of well being. An employer may not have any idea where to begin when implementing a workplace physical activity program. Luckily, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) provides steps on how to get the ball rolling on promoting physical activity at work:

1.    Conduct a workplace walkability assessment to ensure a safe and pleasant environment for walking.
2.    Offer secure bicycle storage and showers for employees who actively commute.
3.    Implement flexible scheduling where feasible —making it easier for employees to carve out time for exercise while juggling work and home responsibilities.
4.    Make stairwells more appealing with paint, artwork, and motivational signage.
5.    Negotiate a corporate discount with local gyms; low-cost gym membership benefits are sometimes available through medical benefit vendors.
6.    Encourage workers to take brief, 2-3 minute fitness breaks throughout the day for brisk walking, stretching, or stair climbing.

7.    Offer free or reduced-cost pedometers to employees. Run a simple steps-per-week team competition to drum up peer support for increasing daily steps. No money? Invite your health benefit vendors or local businesses to sponsor this purchase in exchange for co-branding.
8.    Sponsor or promote employee participation in community events like 5K or 10K runs, basketball leagues, or charity walk-a-thons.
9.    Organize lunchtime walking, running, bicycling, or yoga groups.
10.  Encourage walking 1:1 meetings.
11.  Make standing or pacing vs. sitting at long meetings an acceptable option.
12.  Encourage workers to be active at their workstations as much as possible — by stretching, standing while on the phone or pumping out a few desk pushups while viewing a web conference.
ACE further states, “Businesses already have a significant investment in each worker in terms of hiring, training, compensation, and benefits packages.  Driving a culture of physical activity helps protect that investment — and maximize the returns in cost savings, cost avoidance, productivity and human capital.” This is extremely true, and by implementing a standard of physical activity into your workplace, it will help boost employee morale, productivity, and not to mention… health! Consider implementing a workplace physical activity program in your business today, and see all the benefits that it has to offer!

Thank you for your time and attention.  Let’s make it safe this Monday.

Kolton Larson
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company