4 Key Health Measures – How knowing your numbers can be a wake up call for employees
Four key health measures
There are four key health measures which act as indicators for one’s overall health. These are blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood glucose and body mass index (BMI). If these parameters are beyond the recommended levels, they do not result in any immediate symptoms but may begin to impact and deteriorate your overall general health if they are not addressed.
It’s important to consult with your GP if any of these parameters are beyond recommended levels as they will be able to offer you immediate lifestyle advice and medical treatment to support you in resolving these problems.
Thrive4Life’s ‘Know Your Numbers’ onsite service
Thrive4Life’s ‘Know Your Numbers’ service allows employers to invest in their employee’s health so they can avoid larger health problems down the line. Most people do not know their basic health statistics and the implications these factors have on their lives. Offering mini health checks promotes awareness of common physical wellbeing issues and how one can avoid them. Thrive4Life’s on site tests encourage employees to really think about their health and wellbeing, as many people take the view that if “I feel ok, I must be ok”, but this is not always the case.
For those employees who have results that are out of line with recommended parameters, having a ‘Know Your Numbers’ check acts as a gentle wakeup call to focus on their health. These individuals will be encouraged to visit their GP to discuss their results and possible further action.
The checks only take fifteen minutes per person, are easy to arrange and confidential. The results will be provided immediately along with recommendations to improve their health (if required). Early diagnosis and simple interventions can drastically improve your employee’s overall health and wellbeing.
It’s a fun way to get staff thinking about their lifestyle, encouraging flexible workers to come in the office. It acts as a focus for conversation about wellbeing and gives people important basic facts about their health that they can understand and focus on.
Of course, the added bonus is that employers can talk about the event and market the event widely to staff. It can be brought into a campaign theme such as ‘Healthy Heart’ or as a launch to a more general Health and Wellbeing initiative. Know your numbers is a great practical way to engage staff in health matters and demonstrates that you care and support them.
Importance of regular tests and lifestyle changes
Providing regular health checks at work help individuals track their health numbers and nip problems in the bud. Understanding these measures and where our own figures lie on the scale can encourage people to reflect on their lifestyle if numbers are beyond healthy limits. Changes to diet and activity levels can prevent minor health problems from snowballing. It can also stop larger problems escalating into the potential for a serious health event such as a stroke or heart attack. Changing key influential lifestyle habits such as reducing the amount of alcohol consumed and quitting smoking are some of the most well-known methods to begin improving health parameters. However, it is important to note several health factors are influenced by our genetics such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Where levels are outside recommended parameters, medical treatment becomes key and ongoing monitoring essential.
Making Health Checks easier will increase health awareness
Despite the awareness of how important focusing on our health is, health checks often end up at the bottom of everyone’s agendas. As long as we are not unwell, there are always more pressing matters to deal with. Easy access to check-ups in the workplace raises awareness on the widespread nature of health complications and kickstarts the conversation about healthcare and overall wellness. It also catalyses us to seek help before we have a problem.
Nudging employees towards a healthy lifestyle is beneficial for them and the business
Providing regular health checks can be an effective nudge to encourage employees to focus on their health more. This simple heads-up wellbeing initiative facilitating employees to know their personal results on these basic parameters and can encourage and empower them to make the correct decision for their short and long-term health. Results of a recent study by HEC Paris show how focusing on your employees’ health and wellbeing increases their motivation and performance levels. This investment also has direct impact on several business metrics. Five years after implementing a robust health and wellbeing strategy, employee turnover fell from 13% to 1% while profits increased by 8% (1).
Statistics on long-term absence due to severe illness
Acute medical conditions, several of which can be better managed by frequent testing, accounts for 37% of long-term absences in organisations according to the ‘Health and Wellbeing at Work 2022’ report by the CIPD(5). 25% of organisations list personal illnesses as a top cause of stress at work while 4 out of every 5 organisations have reported stress related absences. This represents a major cost in terms of salaries and lost productivity for businesses.
What are Key Health Measures?
Blood Pressure – Blood pressure is the amount of force your heart uses to pump blood throughout your body. It can also be understood as the pressure against the walls of your blood vessels. According to the NHS, blood pressure levels should be between 90/60 and 120/80 mm Hg. It’s really important to ensure that you maintain your blood pressure within the recommended parameters. This is because, over time, high blood pressure will force your arteries to thicken and become narrower which can lead to strokes or heart attacks.
Cholesterol levels – Cholesterol is a waxy substance naturally produced in our livers. It is an essential compound for several body functions, but if our blood cholesterol levels get too high it can cause serious health issues. Certain foods (such as meat and dairy products) contain cholesterol while others (such as palm oil and coconut oil) contain saturated fats which encourage our livers to produce more than the normal amount of cholesterol. High cholesterol levels lead to blocked arteries which can result in heart attacks or strokes. However, it’s not just about the diet you eat, everyone is different in the way they metabolise cholesterol and genetics play a big role in your cholesterol levels. So again, if you find you have high cholesterol, then it’s important to visit your GP and get medical advice and support.
Blood Glucose – The food we eat is converted into glucose which is broken down to give our body energy. Our blood glucose levels are regulated by the amount of insulin our body produces which is produced in our pancreas. It is the role of insulin to remove excess glucose from our bloodstream. If our body does not produce enough insulin or well-functioning insulin, glucose stays in our blood. Having too much sugar in our blood over time will eventually result in a condition known as diabetes which can lead to serious health issues. Over time this condition encourages inflammation throughout the body which leads to damaged blood vessels. If not resolved, it will increase the risk of heart and kidney disease and can lead to significant nerve damage and visual impairment.
Body Mass Index – BMI is a weight to height-squared ratio which measures our level of body fat. It is one of the parameters that goes to looking at how healthy someone is. BMI calculations give a range of healthy weights for a particular height. This number focuses on the fact that carrying excess weight can lead to several health problems, it is not a perfect or absolute measure of one’s health, but is a key health parameter that is widely used to assess an individual’s general level of health.
Other important health measures
Basal Metabolic Rate – BMR is a person’s metabolic rate when they are resting. It measures the number of calories a person burns per hour per square meter of body surface area. BMR is determined by indirect calorimetry i.e., measuring the levels of oxygen consumption and carbon-di-oxide production (2). At its most rudimentary level, BMR allows us to understand the number of calories we burn when we are not exercising. This is helpful for managing your weight and calculating the number of calories you must consume every day.
Waist circumference – Greater waist circumference has been directly linked with increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and death even when controlling for BMI. Even for those within a healthy weight range, a larger waist circumference increases the risk of health problems compared to those with slimmer waists. This occurs because abdominal fat releases hormones and fatty acids which impact all the key health measures (3).
Number of steps taken daily – While a greater number of steps don’t directly result in better health, it does encourage you to move more which improves our health metrics. Having a step goal for each day reduces our risk for various diseases while being an easy number to increase. Cardiologist Dr. Seth Martin’s suggests taking the stairs when possible and holding walking meetings to reach your step goal. It is a simple and effective motivation to gain control over your health (4).
Summary of the benefits of Know Your Numbers
The on-site ‘Know Your Numbers’ service offered by Thrive4Life is the first step towards helping your employees craft a healthier future for themselves. The mini health checks cover the four primary measures we discussed here while the longer assessment looks at a further selection of health parameters. You can benefit from this service by contacting us where Thrive4Life will arrange details and set up an online booking system for each day of health checks, where your employees can choose a suitable time to fit in with their work schedule. Regular health checks can be the cornerstone of your overall health and wellbeing strategy.
- “The Impact of Employee Health and Wellbeing on Company Performance” HEC Paris. https://www.hec.edu/en/news-room/impact-employee–health-and-wellbeing-company-performance
- Basal Metabolic Rate, Science Direct, 2019. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/basal-metabolic-rate#:~:text=The%20BMR%20is%20usually%20determined,require%20fasting%20for%2012%20hours.
- Obesity Prevention Source, Harvard T.C. Chan School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-definition/abdominal-obesity/
- Heart Numbers You Need to Know, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-heart-numbers-you-need-to-know
- CIPD report 2022. https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/health-wellbeing-work-report-2022_tcm18-108440.pdf