For our final installment of 2013 wellness predictions, we’re focused on how social changes will affect employee wellness in the months and years to come. At ShapeUp, we reference social a whole lot, but these predictions fall under a broader, more traditional definition of “social,” than the digital, online sense. These predictions pose the question: how will the way our society thinks, interacts, and passes time change the way we get healthy together?
Prediction #12: “Our culture will start to substitute shoe leather for the seat of our pants.” – Dr. David Katz, Yale University Prevention Research Center
These days, with our desk jobs and TVs, we sit an average of 9.3 hours a day, more than the average person sleeps each night – and it’s taking a toll on our bodies. One statistic even suggests that those who sit for over 6 hours each day are 40% more likely to die within 15 years than someone who sits for less than 3 hours a day. And that is regardless of how much exercise you do.
As Dr. Katz predicts, we have to start walking away from our seats and our screens. We hope and also believe that this will become a cultural shift, but before broad changes can take root, we should begin by cultivating corporate cultures of activity that encourage movement and discourage long days of uninterrupted sitting. If Dr. Katz is correct, wellness programs in 2013 will take seriously the small but significant steps individuals can adopt in order to reduce the health hazards of a desk job.
Prediction #13: “Dancing will become a more popular way to be happy and healthy.” – BJ Fogg, Behavior Design Lab, Stanford University
Zumba. Barre class. Physique 57. Dance is the newest exercise trend, and according to BJ Fogg, it’s only going become more popular. It’s not hard to see why: dancing is a low-impact, full body workout that works both your cardiovascular system and your muscles. Gaining popularity from hit TV shows like Dancing With The Stars and So You Think You Can Dance, dancing, formerly relegated to girls in tutus, is now being broadly recognized for its athleticism and adopted as a fun, fitness challenge. Here at ShapeUp we also love that it’s a social way to exercise – for some dance styles you even need a partner!— and it can unite people of all different abilities with music and good workout in a way that no elliptical machine or set of dumbbells ever could.
For all the technology and innovation we discussed on our webinar and in this series, prediction #13 is interesting because it suggests a return to our roots. Dancing is as ancient as human society – it’s always been a way for people to connect to one another –so it’s very thought provoking to consider this prediction in the context of all of the others: we tend to think innovation must pioneer new paths, but perhaps progress is also made by remembering our history.
Prediction #14: “Understanding that economic development requires a local and steady stream of educated and healthy workers, organizations will expand beyond primary prevention to focus on primordial prevention, children’s health, and functional medicine.” – Michael Samuelson, The Health & Wellness Alliance for Children
Municipalities and employers have a great incentive to focus on children’s health, as Michael suggests. Children’s Health problems are the leading cause of employee absence and productivity loss – absences cost employers $3B per year, and 26% of the time when employees call in sick they are providing care to a family member. It’s often an overlooked population, even as 43% of NBGH employers provide coverage for dependents through the age of 25, totaling 33% of all beneficiaries. 14.7% of claims are for children and adolescents. We can’t ignore the costs of keeping youngsters healthy! And as Michael Samuelson points out, children represent the next cohort of employees that will be entering the halls of workplaces around our country. While many employers and local governments may not be thinking about children’s health, they have many reasons to do so, and that’s why the most forward-looking organizations are doing just that in 2013.
Prediction #15: “Caregiving is recognized for the condition it is – as devastating and impactful as diabetes or asthma…and employers, feeling the beginning onslaught of the silver tsunami, react accordingly.” –Alexandra Drane, Eliza
TEDMED recently named the caregiver crisis as one of the 20 greatest challenges that we face in health care today. And thought leaders within TEDMED have identified some of the contributing factors, including the graying of America (10,000 Americans turn 65 every day), longer lifespans, changing family dynamics, financial pressures, emotional burdens, work pressures, a plethora of confusing options, and more. There are 66 million caregivers in the United States, and there are a lot of people who lean on them every single day, and so Alex’s prediction is one that we hope comes true – that employers take note of this major problem and begin to provide their employees who are serving as caregivers with the proper support, resources, and flexibility they need to take care of their loved ones and themselves at the same time. It’s the right thing to do.
We want to take a moment to once again thank our brilliant predictors and futurists. We were so inspired by their insight, and we’ll be keeping it in mind as we develop our technology and products over the next year. If you’re itching for more expertise, be sure to sign up for our next webinar on Wednesday, March 6th at 1 pm EST. We’re asking wellness experts to weigh in on traditionally taboo topics…you probably shouldn’t miss it.