This year I was informed that my health care provider was offering a substantial decrease in my insurance rates if I was willing to participate in a “health challenge”. I selected a challenge called “Walk This Way” which required that I wear a pedometer until I hit 360,000 steps. Accordingly I set my goal to log 10,000 steps in my average day. At this rate I would be able to complete my challenge in just over a month’s time.
I thought that this would be an easy goal for me to achieve because I consider myself to be a physically active person. Very soon I became aware of just how “sedentary” my desk job is. I struggled to get to 4,000 steps on the days that I did not engage in some sort of physical activity after work. When I did hit the gym and spent time doing both strength training and cardio activities, I was easily able to exceed my daily goal and log over 20,000 steps.
I was always aware of the benefits of being physically active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise, but this really made me think of how difficult it is for a person who sits at a desk all day to obtain these goals without making a real conscious effort.
A healthy lifestyle benefits the employer as well as the employee. The employer benefits from increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, reduced health care claims and reduced risk of injury. For the individual employee, the benefits include: increased energy, a reduced risk of heart disease, obesity, osteoarthritis and stress and, in my case, it has even reduced the cost of my health insurance premiums by about $10.00 per week or $500 per year!
There are many factors that affect the rates we pay for health insurance. Some of them are out of our control, but we can choose a healthier lifestyle and take steps to maintain a level of optimum health. Along with reduced premiums, the person who chooses to live a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise reduces their likelihood of getting sick and improves the overall quality of their life.