This blog features guest writer Jeannie Hannan, PhD, ACSM-HFD, CHWC, Associate Professor and Wellness & Health Promotion Program Director at Nebraska Methodist College.
The global pandemic is bringing to light the importance of worksite health promotion for the health and wellbeing of your employees. The virus does not discriminate based on health status. Although living a healthy lifestyle will not prevent someone from contracting the virus, it may prevent, treat or reverse various chronic conditions that increase the risk for severe illness or death from the virus. It is estimated that up to 80% of chronic conditions can be prevented, treated, and/or reversed by lifestyle management (CDC).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic conditions that increase risk for severe illness from the pandemic include: diabetes, heart disease (heart failure, coronary heart disease, cardiomyopathy, congenital heart disease, and hypertension), chronic lung disease, asthma, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, and severe obesity. Individuals who have a weakened immune system which can be the result of cancer treatments, autoimmune disorders, transplantations, and prolonged use of certain medications, etc., are also at a higher risk. Additionally, lifestyle behaviors such as smoking and vaping add to the increased risk of more severe symptoms from COVID-19 (WebMD).
Lifestyle choices that boost the immune system and reduce risks for many of these chronic conditions include: managing stress, healthy eating, regular physical activity, avoidance of tobacco, quality sleep, and social connectivity (American College of Lifestyle Medicine). In addition to promoting mitigation measures of physical distancing, wearing a mask, and hand washing, offering wellness programming to promote behaviors that boost immunity and prevent, treat, or possibly reverse chronic conditions can give your employees the best possible defense against complications of the virus.
As health promotion professionals, you have the knowledge and skills to educate, motivate, coach, and empower individuals to make healthy lifestyle changes which decrease the risk of acquiring chronic conditions such as those that impact the severity of symptoms from viruses such as COVID-19.
Contact Nebraska Methodist College for more information about the Master of Science in Wellness & Health Promotion Management program was recently ranked in the top 20 master’s degrees in health education by Intelligent.com.