"It often comes down to breaking down the barriers as to why people aren't doing it on their own," explains Debbi Brooks, employee wellness program expert at Health Care Service Corp. (HCSC), a Chicago-based health insurer. Companies need to make it convenient for workers, offer incentives and find the programs that appeal to particular groups and individuals.
Brooks says that IT workers tend to "feed off each other and cheer each other on," so they like to exercise together and compare results. And they like their tech toys, so smartphone apps and social networking tools that let them track fitness progress have been popular too. And considering the demanding hours that IT often works, flexibility is key.
Telecommunications analyst Tom Walsh says HCSC's commitment to flexibility enabled him to participate in a 10-week nutrition and wellness program that the company offered.
"Having it at work made it much easier to be part of it," he says.
As did his manager's support, Walsh says. His manager adjusted his start time by a half-hour to accommodate morning workouts.
The ROI was impressive: Walsh lost 60 pounds, he was able to stop taking his blood pressure medicine, and he might be able to drop his cholesterol and diabetes medications as well.
Permission to Recline
The market for ergonomic products has introduced some healthier alternatives to the traditional desk. There's the desk that lets you stand up. There's also a treadmill desk, which, as you can imagine, allows you to walk while you work.
But Tom Revelle, vice president of marketing at Humanscale, which designs and manufacturers ergonomic tools in New York, says the best desk is one that adjusts to your individual needs so you can maintain the best posture possible throughout the day.
That doesn't mean you should be sitting ram-rod straight at your desk. Rather, you want to be reclining slightly in your chair, so that the chair takes some weight off of your back, he says.
To do that, try the following:
* Move the keyboard off your desktop; instead, put it on an adjustable shelf below the desktop, or put it in your lap.
* Get a good ergonomic chair that allows you to lean back and adjust the tension on the back support. (It should be adjustable for height, too.)
* Move your monitor up to the front of your desk when you're working on the computer, and move it back when you need desk space, so you're not leaning forward to see the screen.
* Get some really good task lighting for your work area.