Testimonial DaveAre you considering partnering with a Riverside wellness and fitness center for your corporate wellness program? That is a great way to drive participation and motivate your employees to use this wonderful benefit to change their lives! There is one consideration, however.

Here’s the problem: Employers are paying up the ying-yang in health insurance premiums. When an employee is diagnosed with a chronic illness or misses multiple days of work due to sickness, it costs the employer tons of money. To combat this growing problem, employers are adopting wellness programs to make it easier for their workers to make healthy lifestyle changes. Some programs offer smoking cessation counseling, gym memberships, yoga classes, or nutrition seminars, for example. Research shows that every dollar spent on a wellness program saves $3 in health insurance costs. While this is a great start, there is one problem… research also shows that “stressed out” workers are less likely to use wellness programs! Even though a wellness and fitness center will naturally help people manage stress, it can’t help them if they won’t walk through the door.

Research that appears in the September/October issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion found that 17 percent of employees have stress levels that are “as bad as it can be.” These people also incidentally have poor eating habits, greater fatigue, lower activity levels, and worse overall health. Researchers recommend that employers consider adding mental health counseling for stress to the mix before sending employees to a wellness and fitness center.

According to Matthew Clark, Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic’s psychology department, “Traditionally, many people defined a wellness center as a fitness center [but] this is changing, and most now include stress reduction, nutrition, spirituality, sleep, work-life balance and relationships. So it is important for facilities to include programs for all these domains and to ask the initial question about stress levels so they can address overall quality of life.”

Wellness and fitness centers know this scenario all too well. Traditionally, there is an onslaught of new gym memberships around Christmas and New Years’ time, but this number tapers off significantly by the spring. People have good intentions about their health, but stressed-out people are more likely to drop out and those who don’t work 1-on-1 with a trainer are less likely to be engaged or get the results they want.

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