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Heart Health Month: Encourage Healthier Habits for Employees

Posted, by Deborah Merkin
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February is all about hearts, and it’s not just because of Valentine’s Day. Since 1964, when President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the proclamation to address the rising rates of heart disease, February has been dedicated to raising heart health awareness in America.

Why a whole month? Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of Americans, claiming about 2,300 individuals per day, according to the American Heart Association. And yet 72% of Americans don’t consider themselves at risk and 58% don’t put any effort towards improving their heart health. In a nutshell: many people are putting themselves at risk by being ill-informed.

February is the perfect time to educate your employees about their heart health and the importance of adopting behaviors that reduce the conditions that contribute to cardiovascular disease.


Ways to Manage Heart Health

1. Quit Smoking/Vaping

Recently, the Surgeon General reported that not enough doctors are encouraging their patients to quit smoking, though it is known to be the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Although many adult smokers want to quit smoking, they may not have the adequate resources to help them.

Wellness Program Tips

  • Offer smoking cessation programs.
  • Reduce outside smoking zones, or move them farther from the office.
  • Offer incentives/rewards like CVS Pharmacy® Gift Cards to help quit smoking


2. Manage Conditions (High Blood Pressure / Cholesterol)

Hypertension costs the U.S. $55.9 billion each year on average. This total includes the cost of healthcare services, medications to treat high blood pressure, and absenteeism at work. Unfortunately, only 1 in 4 adults have their hypertension condition under control. The recommended way to manage conditions like these are with close supervision from doctors and lifestyle changes.

Wellness Program Tips

  • Schedule reminders for employees to make regular check-ups with their doctors.
  • Provide regular blood pressure readings in office.

3. Change Diet

Diet may seem like an easy thing to change, but bad eating habits can be the hardest to modify since it’s linked to our social and emotional lives. However, the recommended steps to changing to a heart healthy diet includes controlling portion size and eating food low in trans-fat, saturated fat, added sugar and sodium.

Wellness Program Tips

  • If providing office snacks, make sure more fruits, vegetable, low-sodium, low-fat, and low-sugar or sugar-free options are available.
  • Consider hosting a healthy office potluck where employees bring heart-healthy dishes.
  • Treat your employees to healthy eating at home with a selection of heart-healthy meals from Home Chef.


4. Be Active

Only half of adults get the physical activity they need to help reduce and prevent chronic diseases. It’s recommended that people get at least 150 minutes of activity every week, which is roughly 20 minutes every day.

Wellness Program Tips

  • Initiate walking meetings to boost physical activity as a team.
  • Create teams/groups to motivate help motivate each other.
  • Encourage biking to work and incorporating bike racks for easy storage.


How to Get Employees to Adopt Healthy Behaviors

One challenge to managing health is sustaining motivation to continue new, healthier behaviors over a longer period than many might be comfortable with. For a wellness program, the challenge is to find what motivates employees and to create an environment at work that supports the healthier behaviors employees are trying to adopt.

We’ve looked at some examples to give you an idea of what other companies’ approaches are for their wellness initiatives.

Negative Reinforcement

U-Haul recently announced their nicotine-free hiring policy. In the states that it is lawful to decline hiring individuals who use nicotine products, applicants will be asked if they smoke and will consent to regular screenings. The new policy is a result of their initiative to make U-Haul one of the healthiest corporate cultures in the U.S. and Canada.

While it may seem radical, the new policy is in favor of U-Haul employees’ health. They are using what’s called negative reinforcement, when behavior is strengthened by removing a stimulus. In this case, U-Haul is removing the opportunity for employees to smoke in order to reduce conditions related to nicotine use and motivate individuals (if they want to work for U-Haul) to quit smoking.

Onsite & Offsite Solutions

Denny’s headquarters in Spartanburg, NC is promoting healthy eating in their onsite cafeterias and provides an outdoor recreation park for employees to freely use. Offsite, they provide free annual memberships to the local YMCAs to employees.

The benefit of having onsite and offsite options is making healthy decisions more accessible. When there are healthier options right in front of individuals, it’s that much easier for them to decide to keep healthier habits up.

Wellness Incentives

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey has an initiative to get members to sign up for ongoing free health assessments. The assessments can happen either at home or at a MinuteClinic® inside CVS Pharmacy®, and once completed, they send members a $20 CVS Pharmacy gift card for participating.

Focusing on what you can do in the workplace to promote health and wellbeing for your employees creates a culture of wellness that impacts employee experience in a positive way. Share in the comments below what you’re doing to promote heart health this month.

CVS Pharmacy gift card

Wellness looks good on everyone. Show some love and help spread awareness this month with CVS Pharmacy® gift cards.

CVS Pharmacy gift cards are the ideal incentives for programs that encourage healthy behaviors and reinforce wellness. They can be redeemed to stock up on heart health-related products or get help paying for prescriptions. And when February ends, you can continue using the gift cards to incentivize reaching other wellness goals, adopting healthy behaviors, and participating in future initiatives.

Learn more about CVS Pharmacy gift cards.

Topics: Health Incentives

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