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Category

Corporate Wellness

How InBody Helped NASA Johnson Space Center

By Case Studies, Corporate Wellness

Starport is designed to promote the welfare and morale of the Johnson Space Center (JSC) workforce.  Starport Services is a quality-of-life program that directly supports the mission of the Johnson Space Center by providing a variety of support activities and employee services. These activities and services seek to enhance work-life balance, promote mental and physical fitness, and provide a working environment at JSC that helps to attract and retain quality employees.

When tasked to find new “dynamic wellness” technology to enhance their fitness and wellness program, Starport brought in an InBody 770 to replace their existing body composition tools: calipers and handheld BIA devices. In 2015, Starport’s membership grew by 48.6% and increased its workplace wellness program adoption rate to 38% of eligible employees and contractors.

The Search for the Best

While NASA’s astronauts, scientists, and researchers are committed to an unending mission to explore the universe and expand mankind’s understanding of the unknown, Starport – the workforce wellness program at the NASA Johnson Space Center – has a more immediate, earth-bound mission: to attract, retain, and support the health and wellness of the JSC’s 11,000-strong workforce of government employees and contractors.

How does Starport do that? The same way any NASA-affiliated group does: by providing its employees with the best tools for the job. Which is why, in late 2014, Employee Wellness and Fitness Services Manager Evan Thoman brought in the InBody 770.

“We want to offer our community the very top, the top echelon if you will, in terms of equipment and/or access to tools or resources to allow them to improve their health and wellbeing, and that doesn’t mean just another treadmill. It means something much more than that,” said Thoman.

Previously, Thoman had been using calipers and handheld bioelectrical impedance devices to determine body composition with limited and mixed results. When the call came from above to deliver a wellness program that would achieve Starport’s mission, Thoman remembered InBody from his previous role in the private healthcare sector. He knew that anything less than the InBody would be unacceptable for the NASA workforce: “We’re NASA, so we want to do everything we can to offer our workforce the best of the best, and at the time the InBody was – and still is – the best of the best.”

Building Trust with Education

Thoman knew that the JSC workforce – an incredibly tech-savvy and data-driven population – would not just accept a new piece of technology as the “best of the best” at face-value. NASA’s workforce is used to working with the most sophisticated technology available, so when outside technology comes in, it’s often greeted with a high degree of skepticism. However, Thoman was cautiously optimistic. “I knew people would use it,” he said. “I just hoped our employees would put their trust in this.”

The key to building that trust would be education. “This population, they want to be the best at everything and know everything there is to know about a certain topic, and body composition assessments and InBody assessments are not different.”

Thoman launched a mass-awareness campaign designed to teach the workforce what the InBody 770 could do for their health and wellness. It started with teaching the importance of knowing important body composition values. Thoman had previously held “Know Your Numbers” campaigns for employees to promote awareness of metrics like blood pressure and cholesterol levels. He used this same model again, except this time on the topic of body composition, promoting awareness of values such as lean muscle mass and body fat percentage.

“No Signs of Losing Momentum”

Once the InBody arrived in December 2014, Thoman devised a plan to implement the InBody 770 into the workplace wellness program.  Taking advantage of the annual New Year resolution membership signup wave, Thoman put the InBody 770 front-and-center. “The InBody 770 was the focal point,” he said, “and it continues to be the focal point.”

Not content to let the InBody sit in the Starport gym and wait for people to discover it, Thoman took the device outside at every available opportunity.  When there was a health fair at NASA JSC, the InBody 770 was there. When there was an event at a local NASA-affiliated contractor’s office, Thoman took the InBody on the road and tested people there. He even brought the InBody into the cafeteria and tested people during their lunch break.

Thoman’s efforts paid off. Starport gym members began to share their results with others who were not yet members, creating more interest and excitement among the JSC workforce. “People who had never, ever planned on having an assessment done…all of the sudden saw this results page that their co-workers were passing around and saw all of the data that it presented and then suddenly became very interested and wanted to start tracking and trending their own metrics,” he said.

“Once the information got out, once they put their trust in the machine, once it was verified…it’s just taken off, and it shows absolutely no signs of losing momentum.”

Starport’s Numbers Take Flight

At the close of 2015, Starport posted the highest membership numbers it has ever achieved, expanding from 2,800 memberships in January to 4,280 in December: an increase of 48.6% by year’s end.  In terms of the entire NASA JSC workforce, this figure accounted for 38% of the 11,000 NASA employees and contractors eligible for Starport membership.

Thoman credits the InBody as a key factor driving this high engagement.  Once the workforce learned about how their body composition factored into their health and wellness and understood how the InBody could help them reach their health goals, employees came again and again to track their numbers.

“It has brought so much awareness in terms of the physical health of our workforce, much more than I ever thought,” said Thoman. “People are pretty set in their ways, and this was asking them to change their routine of just stepping on the scale to measure progress.”

With 2016 well underway, Starport’s membership signups are set to again break records. Thoman has set a year-end goal of 50% of the NASA JSC workforce to be signed up for the wellness program by December.  Although it’s a lofty goal, he’s confident he’ll get there with help from his InBody 770 and the trust his workforce has placed in it.

“The machine has proven itself,” said Thoman. “It’s passed the ‘NASA test’ from a trust standpoint.”

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Western Digital uses InBody to educate and inspire employee wellness

By Case Studies, Corporate Wellness

Western Digital is a Fortune 500-listed company and is one of the largest computer data storage and hard disk drive manufacturing companies in the world. Western Digital encourages its employees to develop and maintain active and healthy lifestyles through its DRIVE Wellness Program, which provides educational seminars, workout equipment, health counseling, and coaching to its workforce.

After encountering and using an InBody at an area fitness center, Senior Wellness Specialist Heather Whitaker saw the potential to bring DRIVE Wellness’ offerings to the next level. After seeing the effect it had on a pilot program of 200 employees, Whitaker brought in an InBody 570 as an educational tool available for employees to get a better understanding of their health and to inspire them to become healthier and allow them to be more productive.

A chance encounter that changed a program

Like many wellness specialists at large corporations, Heather Whitaker, Senior Wellness Specialist at Western Digital’s DRIVE Wellness Center has a mission: to provide services that benefit the health of the workforce at Western Digital. While that’s easier said than done, Whitaker has a clear methodology.

“Ultimately I’m trying to educate employees,” she remarked. “I’m not trying to tell our employees what to do and how to do things; [it’s] the rationale – the reason behind why. We’re trying to make employees see that they need to be good healthcare consumers for themselves and for their family.”

But how to communicate that, and more importantly, how to get employees invested? Fortunately for Whitaker, a chance encounter provided a solution.

“I first heard about InBody at a local gym I was working out at. They were doing a 12-week fitness challenge, and part of that challenge was to use the scale to help dictate where your body needed to go.” Going through that challenge herself got Whitaker thinking: what if the Western Digital employees could use the InBody too? So, she tried it out.

200 Western Digital employees chose to enroll in the 12-week fitness challenge at the local gym with InBody. The results were astounding. “Collectively, they lost close to 4,000 pounds of fat. Not weight, but pure fat. We would have never known that had we not used the [InBody],” said Whitaker.

Impressed by the results of the trial, Whitaker made the decision to bring an InBody 570 to Western Digital for the opening of DRIVE Wellness.

Awareness, the Key to Inspiration

Bringing awareness to the Western Digital workforce, with body composition as a significant portion of that awareness, became central to Whitaker’s work towards her goals. Her InBody scale brought that awareness in a comfortable, non-intimidating way.

“When you’re overweight, you don’t need anyone telling you you’re overweight; you already know,” said Whitaker, “but by getting on the InBody scale it’s breaking it down for you. It’s making it more relatable and understandable.”

That breakdown has proven to be a key for getting employees at Western Digital invested in their own health. The data the InBody provides the healthcare professionals at Western Digital has also proven to be a convenient and clear way to talk to employees about their health risks associated with excess body fat.

“One of the ways our physician uses the InBody scale in physicals is to look at the visceral fat level. Once it gets to a certain point, he can help them understand that if they don’t lose some body fat – especially in the abdomen area – it’s going to increase their risk for heart disease, high cholesterol, [and] high blood pressure,” said Whitaker.

By having the InBody results available to employees, Whitaker is able to provide another educational moment. These moments can be eye-opening for employees and are crucial to inspiring them to take ownership of their health and wellness.

“The Light at the End of the Tunnel”

“I would say that the biggest success stories that we’re having are people feeling [that] there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Whitaker, “in that working with their health coach here they can come whether it be weekly, every other week, monthly, or whatever works for them and they can actually see progress.”

Currently, DRIVE Wellness only exists at Western Digital’s headquarters in Irvine, CA. However, based on the success Whitaker has been able to achieve, she plans to open up two more centers at Western Digital’s locations in the San Jose Bay Area. She’ll be bringing what worked at Irvine to the employees up north, and that’ll include an InBody device.

As Whitaker sees it, it’s a must-have.

“I have people come through all the time who come and look to see our wellness center…and I always show them the InBody scale,” she says. “I let them know that it’s such a key tool in a wellness center that…maybe cut back on certain areas, but make sure you have the scale, make sure you have a health coach that can use and have doctors that can understand it.”

“I just think it’s a great tool that people can use, and it just makes understanding your overall body composition so much easier.”

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5 Ways Sitting All Day Wrecks Your Body Composition

By Corporate Wellness

Think about how long you sit in a day. It’s probably something you have never tracked, but on average Americans spend more than half their waking hours sitting! Between sitting in traffic, attending class or work, or relaxing on the sofa the number of hours you spend sitting can add up quickly. Even if you exercise three times a week, you may still suffer from a sedentary lifestyle because its hard to counteract the total number of hours that you sit in a week. Why does this matter? How much harm can sitting most of the day actually do to your health? Quite a lot actually. According to recent studies, your inactive, sedentary lifestyle may be shortening your lifespan!

You May Want to Stand Up for This

Headlines like “Sitting is the new smoking” might seem like the type of clickbait health article you can dismiss because everyone else is sitting all day too so … how can it harm you right?

Not so fast. In 2009, over 17,000 Canadians participated in a study that sought to find a connection between sitting and mortality. Participants ranged in age, body type, and activity level. At the end of the study, researchers found an association between sitting time and mortality from all causes and concluded extended periods of sitting should be discouraged. A sedentary lifestyle where you sit all day harms your health by encouraging muscle loss and fat gain and increasing your risk factor for multiple diseases.  

In this article, we will cover the five ways your body composition is negatively affected by too much sitting. But don’t worry, it’s not all doom-and-gloom: we have tips on how you can break up long periods of sitting, even if you work a desk job.

#1: Insulin Resistance

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death among Americans. Those who sit for extended periods of time, don’t exercise, and don’t take care of their nutrition can experience insulin resistance, which happens when insulin isn’t able to transport excess blood sugar out of your blood and into your muscles. When insulin resistance because significant, that’s type-2 diabetes.

One study of 3,757 women found that women who sat for eight hours a day had a 56 percent higher chance of developing diabetes. Diabetics tend to have more fat within their bodies, particularly visceral fat, which can further encourage insulin resistance and keep them from being healthy.

In addition, diabetics experience quicker loss of muscle mass as they age compared to healthy individuals. The loss of muscle intensifies symptoms further deteriorates body composition.

#2: Risk for Heart Disease

Enzymes that burn body fat decrease by 90% when sitting for an hour or longer. The enzyme involved with body fat burning is called lipoprotein lipase, or LPL. LPL’s role is to produce good cholesterol, or HDL, which helps with triglyceride levels and protects against heart disease by keeping bad cholesterol from building up in the arteries. A sedentary lifestyle has been shown to decrease HDL Levels.  A low HDL level is a common metabolic syndrome risk factor and is associated with increased risk of hypertension (high blood pressures) and cardiovascular disease.

In a 2003 animal study, rodents were forced to stay lying down for most of the day – to simulate a sedentary lifestyle – and the researchers found that the LPL levels in their leg muscles decreased immensely. When they stood up, the enzyme was ten times more active! Although these studies with humans are still underway, its still a convincing reason to take short breaks with moderate physical activity.

#3: Muscles become weaker

When you sit, your gluteal muscles, abdominal muscles, and legs lay dormant. If you sit for extended periods of time day after day, these muscles can degenerate. Because the size of your metabolism is linked with your body composition – more muscle increases metabolism and helps your burn more calories – any muscle loss, especially from the lower body which is your largest muscle group, can lead to consistent fat gain if the diet is not changed.

In the future, gradual muscle loss from your lower body can hurt your functional strength and as you become older increase your fall risk and affect your ability to live independently.    

#4: Circulation Becomes Slower

Not only does blood flow to your brain slow down when you sit for too long, but the blood flow to your legs also becomes sluggish. Sitting for an excessive period of time without standing can increase the risk of developing blood clots. Most of the time blood clots are harmless and will dissolve on its own. But there is the possibility that the blood clot breaks off and cause blockage in the lungs, which can be fatal.  

One study showed a profound reduction in the vascular flow after sitting for just three hours. But the researchers found that those who took breaks and got up to walk around for two minutes, every hour, increased their lifespan by 33 percent.

#5: Bones Become Brittle

Long-term sitting and inactivity can lead to weakened bones. The Mayo Clinic has stated that “People who spend a lot of time sitting have a higher risk of osteoporosis than do those who are more active.” The reason is that bone is live tissue that is constantly in a state of forming new bone material and absorbing the old bone material. As we age the rate that bone is reabsorbed is faster than new bone that is formed. One of the factors that lead to rapid bone loss is a lack of physical activity.

Like muscles, bones become stronger when they are used. Engaging in walking and movement which includes weight-bearing can increase the durability of bones.

Tips to Get Moving!

 

How can you increase your physical activity, even if you work all day? You have to get creative. Here are some tips to help you get started.

  1. Transportation – Do you drive to work? If so, park as far away as possible to get in extra steps throughout the day. If you can, bike or walk to the office. Take the steps up to your office if you are not on the first floor. If you can work from home, work from your home office. When at home, get up, do some walking, and even walk to the library to do more work. Think about your day before it starts to get those extra steps in each and every day.
  2. Layout makeover –  Have you taken a look at your office? Sometimes moving your office objects may make it easier for you to get your steps in. Take a look, is your printer close to your computer? Try to move it across the room to make yourself get up and move. Most of us live with our cell phones very close to us. Move your cell phone’s charger by the printer; it will help you get up to move and keep you less distracted. Make coffee in your break room, come back and do some work, and get up again to get your coffee. Anything to get yourself moving counts towards your health.
  3. Change up the way you sit –  If you are allowed, sit on an exercise ball at your desk for short periods, or take it a step further and try a standing desk. There are unique ways of moving at work nowadays with standing desks, treadmill desks, and even bicycle desks. Imagine getting through one of your long meetings with an hour-long bike ride, instead of a large latte. If none of these are viable options, or if an exercise ball isn’t your thing, there are exercises you can do in your desk chair that engage the muscles of your core.
  4. Trade out your comfy chair – If you are not allowed to use a ball or cool new desk, try just an old fashioned wooden, uncomfortable chair. It will make you sit up straight if you must remain sitting, attempt good posture.
  5. Alarm clock – Set a timer every hour for two minutes of constant movement. Try to keep moving with different exercises, sometimes called deskercises, stretches, or take a lap or two around the building.
  6. Step Tracker – Motivate yourself by purchasing a step tracker. It is an eye opener to many individuals to see how much you are sitting around. Many trackers you can wear as a bracelet and challenge friends to different goals.

Now It’s Your Turn: Be a Role Model

If you work an office job or you have a full course load, it can be easy to become inactive and lead a sedentary lifestyle. The good news is that recent studies found that just one hour of physical activity can potentially offset the 8-hour sitting marathon many people perform in their offices. That doesn’t mean that getting all your activity for the day in your one-hour gym session is enough because you can’t forget the time you spend driving and relaxing at home! The idea is to find opportunities to get moving.

Now that you’re at the end of the article, stand up and start moving! Your body will thank you for it.

***

Janine Kelbach, RNC-OB is a Registered Nurse certified in Obstetrics. She has been practicing in labor and delivery for over a decade. She developed her writing career in 2012, specializing in health topics. She, her husband, Adam, and two children Zachary and James reside in Cleveland, OH