Category Archive

2023 August

Wellness Programs

Employer-sponsored medical benefits are provided to help you stay healthy. But some employers go a step further by implementing wellness programs.

Wellness programs provide various tools and incentives for you to keep an eye on your overall health. These incentives often take the form of discounts off your medical premiums (or even a surcharge), fitness trackers, or gym memberships. If your spouse is on your insurance, they may also be eligible.

Often times these programs will require an annual biometric screening that checks certain standard health factors, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, height, weight, and glucose levels. These are helpful in the short-term because they may reveal health issues that you can address with your doctor. These screenings are helpful long-term because they will provide your doctor a consistent medical history — if some of your benchmarks change suddenly from one year to the next, it may indicate a health problem. You can usually get these biometric screenings done at your doctor’s office, though some employers will offer onsite screening opportunities as well.

Many wellness programs also include health education modules and mental and financial wellbeing resources. Overall, wellness programs help you become better informed about your own health, which keeps you healthier and could save you money in the long run. Check your benefits information to see whether your employer has a wellness program and what its benefits are.

Easy Mood-Boosters

Sometimes when you’re having a bad day, it’s hard to boost your mood so you can move forward. Here are a handful of simple suggestions to get you started.

Go for a walk. Have a park nearby? Pop out for a 10-15 minute walk. This kind of gentle physical movement helps your body create hormones related to good moods. Research shows that being out in nature even for very short periods can and overall help your brain work better.

Take time to laugh. While laughter may not be the best medicine, it’s often a good one. In the short-term, it can improve your circulation and help relax your muscles, relieving physical symptoms of stress. Long-term, laughter may even improve your immune system and relieve pain. Watch a comedy, read a funny book, or chat with a friend.

Smell something good. There is research suggesting that smells associated with positive memories can make you feel better. Take a quick sniff of an essential oil you enjoy, put on scented lotion you like, or make an aromatic cup of peppermint or Earl Grey tea — just be mindful of those around you who might have sensitivities to odors.

Listen to music. Songs you enjoy can give you many benefits, such as reducing anxiety, improving focus, and relieving stress. (If you’re listening through headphones, make sure to keep an eye on the volume to protect your hearing.)

It’s important to note that these suggestions are meant to help you through an ordinary case of the blahs. If you find yourself feeling consistently down or stressed, you might want to talk to your doctor or to a mental health professional to see whether anything more serious is going on. If you are experiencing feelings or thoughts of harming yourself or others, call the crisis lifeline at 988.

Mood Boosters: 7 Strategies That Don’t Cost a Thing (

More Than Snoring

For many people, snoring is annoying. For some, though, it can be just one sign of a much more serious condition called sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when you stop and start breathing during your sleep. This can happen due to issues with the muscles in your airway, or, less commonly, due to your brain not sending the proper signals to your breathing muscles.

In addition to snoring, there are many potential symptoms:

  • Breathing shallowly, gasping, or choking upon waking up
  • Restlessness or frequently waking up at night
  • Fatigue from poor sleep
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Dry mouth or sore throat on waking up
  • Sweating at night

Sleep apnea can cause serious health problems. High blood pressure, heart problems, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome are just a few potential complications. Some people are more at risk than others. People who smoke, use alcohol or sedatives, are older, or are overweight are at increased risk of developing sleep apnea.

If your doctor suspects you may have sleep apnea, they may do a physical exam or have you complete a sleep study. Depending on the severity and type of sleep apnea, treatments range from lifestyle changes such as losing weight or stopping smoking to getting a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask to help you breathe (and sleep) deep.

Sleep apnea – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic
Sleep Apnea – What Is Sleep Apnea? | NHLBI, NIH

Splashing Around

Aerobic exercise, which is physical activity that increases your heart rate and use of oxygen, has many benefits.

It can strengthen your heart, improve blood flow, keep your arteries clear, and reduce the risks of many health conditions. Walking and running are the forms of aerobic exercise most people think of, but there’s another type that is just as good for you and easier on your joints – swimming.

Swimming is a full-body workout that involves your major muscle groups and your cardiovascular system. Because it doesn’t involve impact, as walking and especially running do, it is a good option for people with arthritis, certain disabilities, injuries, or other conditions that rule out high-impact exercise. (One study indicates swimming may even relieve joint pain and stiffness for people with arthritis, and another showed reduction of pain for people with multiple sclerosis.)

Swimming is also a great form of exercise for older adults who may be dealing with joint pain, as well as pregnant people. (Of course, it’s always recommended to check with your doctor before starting a new type of exercise, and if you have asthma, you may want to look for a salt pool instead of a traditional chlorine pool.)

If you’re looking for a pool, you probably have a few local options. Many YMCAs have pools with set times for lap swimming, as do some neighborhood pools and other gyms. Some employers partner with local gyms to offer discounted memberships, and Lifestyle Spending Accounts may also cover those fees.

Aerobic exercise: Top 10 reasons to get physical – Mayo Clinic
Health Benefits of Swimming | Healthy Swimming | Healthy Water | CDC