Weekly wellness tips

A year’s worth of healthy living tips for employees

Living a healthier lifestyle starts with making small changes. Over time, small changes add up to big results.

That’s why we’ve provided 52 weeks of healthy tips to share with your employees. Focusing on one lifestyle modification at a time leads to greater long-term success than diving into a complex plan that may set your employees up for failure.

Please refer to these tips as "HAP Wellness Tips," include our logo and link to www.hap.org when distributing these tips to your employees.

  • Weeks 1 – 5: Exercise, meal planning, women’s health and self-care
    • Week 1 – Exercise: On a treadmill, every 1 percent incline increases the calories burned by 10 percent. Thirty minutes of high-intensity exercise a day can help prevent weight gain and metabolic syndrome. Adding an incline on the treadmill is a great way to boost intensity. Check with your doctor to make sure high-intensity activity is safe for you.
    • Week 2 – Cooking: Choose one of your days off work to plan meals for the rest of the week. Try to get an extra meal out of a casserole or one-pot dish to stretch your budget and time efficiency.
    • Week 3 – Women’s health: Smoking is the leading preventable cause of heart disease in women. In fact, 50 percent of heart attacks among women 45 and older are due to smoking. If you smoke, talk to a doctor about resources to quit.
    • Week 4 – Exercise: Tackling a new fitness regime can be challenging. There will be ups and downs, setbacks and victories. Be patient – don't give up!
    • Week 5 – Self-care: Life is essentially the sum of your habits. Make a short, realistic list of your habits. Which would you like to stop doing? Which would you like to start? It takes about a month of consistent effort to adopt a new habit, so keep trying.
  • Weeks 6 – 10: Food labels, stress management, financial wellness and men’s health
    • Week 6 – Food labels: It’s cupboard cleanout time! Go through your cupboards and get rid of items that are high in sodium, fat or sugars. Take a note of them and look for healthier replacements. For help reading a food label, go to hap.org [link to hap.org] and type “Food Label” in the search box. Select the document titled, “Healthy Eating: How to Read Food Labels.”
    • Week 7 – Stress management: Develop your emotional and spiritual self by journaling to enhance emotional self-awareness. Journaling offers a way to clarify thoughts and feelings. Writing down a problem or stressful situation often allows for unexpected solutions. Journal 15 to 20 minutes a day or as often as you like.
    • Week 8 – Stress management: Laughter can help relieve pain and increase happiness. Looking at the silliness of situations can also shift our way out of the blues. Make arrangements for a “laugh night” with family or friends just to relax, laugh and keep things light.
    • Week 9 – Financial wellness: Use a single insurer. You may be eligible for discounts if you use them for a variety of coverage, such as car and home. If you have insurance policies with different companies, do your homework to get savings.
    • Week 10 – Men’s health: Your body is meant to move. Regular physical activity can make you feel and look better and can improve your mood, help you sleep better and help keep your weight under control. It also can increase your libido. Physical activity does not need to be strenuous. Try walking or biking, but if you haven’t been active, check with your doctor before starting.
  • Weeks 11 – 15: Financial wellness, women’s health, cooking, exercise and self-care
    • Week 11 – Exercise: Mastering lunges can make a big difference in your fitness. This simple exercise has a bad rap because some think it can cause knee pain. But doing lunges isn’t bad for your knees – though doing lunges improperly can be! If done correctly, lunging works all the muscles of the legs in a way that will improve how you move, lift, walk and run all day long. SparkPeople.com, a free weight management website, has videos with instruction on how to properly perform various exercises, including lunges.
    • Week 12 – Cooking: Encourage your children to help with meals. When they help cook or prepare it, they’ll have ownership of the meal and be more likely to eat it. Visit Ready, Set, Cook! for healthy, family-friendly recipes.
    • Week 13 – Women’s health: Keep your brain and memory sharp as you age by learning a new language or hobby. Try crossword or jigsaw puzzles to stay mentally active. It’s never too late to learn how to play an instrument
    • Week 14 – Exercise: Chest up tall! When you stand tall during exercise, you activate the muscle that flattens your belly. To do this, pretend you are getting your picture taken. If you are like most people, you automatically stand with your chest up tall. Be sure not to hold your breath. Doing that simple little move can make every exercise a belly flattener.
    • Week 15 – Self-care: Moving our bodies every day decreases our risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses. It also helps reduce stress and keeps our bones and joints healthy. Take a 10-minute walk three times a day, five days a week. You will look and feel better.
  • Weeks 16 – 20: Food labels, stress management, financial wellness and men’s health
    • Week 16 – Food labels: The sugar and other carbohydrates you don’t use for energy are converted into fat and stored in your body. Keep that in mind when looking at food labels. Four grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon.
    • Week 17 – Stress management: Although it’s not always possible, work to avoid negative environments. Surround yourself with people who are supportive and positive. You can eliminate drama by not engaging in judgmental conversations. Blaming others inwardly or outwardly will de-energize you. Notice your thought patterns today. Are you having thoughts of acceptance or judgment?
    • Week 18 – Stress management: Life is better when you are happy. But life is best when other people are happy because of you! Be an inspiration and promote peace. Smile at a stranger today!
    • Week 19 – Financial wellness: Pack a lunch instead of buying one every day. You will help your waistline and your wallet! Packing your own lunch can save you a lot of money throughout the year, and your home-cooked meals likely will be lower in calories, fat and sodium than fast food or restaurant foods.
    • Week 20 – Men’s health: Just like a car, your body needs maintenance. The only way to know if your body is “running smoothly” is to have your numbers checked. This includes blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and weight. Early detection is the best way to prevent a health issue.
  • Weeks 21 – 25: Exercise, cooking, women’s health and self-care
    • Week 21 – Exercise: For the average American, climbing stairs for just two minutes a day (six to eight flights) will burn enough calories to prevent annual weight gain.
    • Week 22 – Cooking: Cutting up fruits and veggies into easy-to-grab snacks will help you get the seven to nine servings a day that you need. Keep sliced fruit from turning brown by dipping it in lemon water.
    • Week 23 – Women’s health: Yoga and tai chi are two ways to keep your joints flexible and your muscles strong. Keeping your joints flexible will allow you to perform simple activities, like tying your shoes or zipping your dress. More importantly, it can help prevent falls.
    • Week 24 – Exercise: Try this easy exercise. Stand with your knees slightly bent and bring one foot slightly off the ground. This will help improve your balance and prevent ankle injuries.
    • Week 25 – Self-care: Emergencies are stressful, especially if you don’t have an emergency plan in place. Discuss an emergency plan with your doctor. Where do they suggest you seek treatment? Do they take after-hour calls? Knowing what to do will take some of the stress out of an emergency situation.
  • Weeks 26 – 30: Nutrition, stress management, food labels and men’s health
    • Week 26 – Nutrition: You can take a daily vitamin supplement, but try to get most of your nutrients from actual food. The antioxidants, vitamins and other nutrients found in foods like blueberries, beans and artichokes don't pack the same punch when they're not in food form. Eat a rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables, as each color contains unique nutrients that others do not.
    • Week 27 – Stress management: It helps to get support when you feel overloaded, overwhelmed, overworked or just blue. Support can come in many forms, including mentors, advisers, counselors, friends or family, support groups or workshops and seminars. Many people also take comfort in religious groups, books, soft music, journaling and communicating with others online. Reaching out when in need is key toward taking charge of your life. No one can handle everything alone.
    • Week 28 – Food labels: Be wary when a product label includes a claim like “endorsed by moms of the healthiest kids.” This kind of statement is meant to influence buying decisions, not to inform consumers of the product’s actual quality. Read the ingredient list to know what the product you’re buying actually contains.
    • Week 29 – Nutrition: Don’t shop when you’re hungry – statistics show that you are more likely to purchase unhealthy foods when hungry.
    • Week 30 – Men’s health: Being connected to devices 24/7 can be a major stressor. Chronic stress can negatively affect you psychologically and physically. Try “unplugging” for a night. That includes the TV, phone and computer. Enjoy the peace!
  • Weeks 31 – 35: Nutrition, exercise and women’s health
    • Week 31 – Nutrition: Cherries have been known as a folk remedy for gout, but it has now been proven that a substance in cherries stops the production of chemicals in the body that cause inflammation and pain. A bowl of 20 cherries (fresh or frozen) a day during a bout with gout is enough to neutralize the swelling with no side effects.
    • Week 32 – Exercise: Bicycling burns excess calories to help you shed body fat. One hour of cycling can burn up to 500 calories.
    • Week 33 – Nutrition: If you take a supplement to get your vitamins, it’s best to have a B-complex or multivitamin that contains B vitamins.
    • Week 34 – Women’s health: Women metabolize alcohol differently than men. The current recommendation is that women consume no more than one drink per day. One drink means 1.5 oz. of hard liquor, 5 oz. of wine or 12 oz. of beer. Consuming more than this can increase the risk of health problems or interfere with medications. Alcohol also adds unnecessary calories.
    • Week 35 – Nutrition: If you increase the fiber in your diet and do not increase the water you drink, the fiber will become “cement” in the GI tract. Prevent constipation by drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning followed by one glass every two hours until bedtime. Want to get more specific? Divide your current weight in half. That’s how many ounces of water you need each day.
  • Weeks 36 – 40: Self-care, exercise, stress management, food labels and safe driving
    • Week 36 – Self-care: When taking a new medicine, make sure you understand the “W’s”:
      • Why am I taking it?
      • When do I take it?
      • What should I do if I miss a dose?
      • Whom do I call if I have questions?
      • When should I start to feel better?
      • What are some of the side effects I should know about?
      • Where should it be stored?
    • Week 37 – Exercise: Researchers have found that when we walk, our brains are activated and our “gray” matter is protected. This gray matter is involved in muscle control, seeing, speaking, hearing and memory. Walk at least a mile a day to keep the mind in top shape.
    • Week 38 – Stress management: It’s OK to say “no” to volunteer, social and professional engagements if you feel drained and exhausted. “This no longer works for me” is a statement you can use to relinquish some responsibilities if you have over-committed. Doing this shows others that it’s OK to care for themselves, too.
    • Week 39 – Food labels: When looking at a label, every 5 grams of fat equals 1 pat of butter or 1 teaspoon of oil. Look for good fats, which include polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats. These can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. Avoid the bad fats, which are saturated and trans fats. These can raise cholesterol levels, clog arteries and increase the risk for heart disease.
    • Week 40 – Safe driving: Distracted driving kills. Don’t eat, drink, apply makeup, text, check email or social media, or make phone calls while driving. Turn off your phone while driving, or assign a designated passenger to text and reply to calls. Do not reach behind you to attend to passengers. If your child needs something, pull over to assist them.
  • Weeks 41 – 46: Men’s health, exercise, nutrition, skin care and self-care
    • Week 41 – Men’s health: Smoking increases your risk of heart disease and lung cancer. It lowers your good cholesterol (HDL), temporarily raises your blood pressure, makes it more difficult to exercise and can affect the health of others around you. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about resources to help you quit.
    • Week 42 – Exercise: Wear proper shoes when you exercise to protect your feet, knees and back. The most important piece of equipment to virtually any kind of exercise is the right pair of shoes. Go to an athletic shoe specialty store to get expert insight on the right shoe and the best fit.
    • Week 43 – Nutrition: Plan ahead for meal prep. Wash and prepare veggies and place them in small to-go containers. The same can be done for your protein. Make extra servings at dinner for next day lunches. When you plan ahead, you’ll be more prepared.
    • Week 44 – Skin care: Researchers have found that even a small increase in eating fruits and vegetables (especially red and yellow foods) during a six-week study gave participants improved skin quality. Add a few more servings of fresh produce each day for a healthy glow.
    • Week 45 – Self-care: The food we eat can make us sick or keep us healthy. To stay healthy, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Choose lean cuts of meat, and remove the skin from chicken and turkey. Limit sugary drinks and foods. And be sure to watch your portion sizes. Remember, if you take in more calories than you burn, you will gain weight.
    • Week 46 – Self-care: Be prepared when you go to the doctor’s office. Write down the top three health concerns you want to discuss and bring all of your medicines and supplements with you. If you take your blood pressure or blood sugar at home, bring the results along.
  • Weeks 47 – 52: Exercise, stress management, cooking, financial wellness and self-care
    • Week 47 – Exercise: While waiting for the shower water to get warm, stretch your arms up one at a time, reaching for the ceiling. Start slowly and continually speed up to improve circulation.
    • Week 48 – Stress management: Gratitude is the power of being thankful. Gratitude is recognizing and concentrating on the good things in life and being thankful for them. Start and end your day by noticing what you are grateful for. There are positive emotions linked to being grateful. Write down three things daily you are grateful for, and watch your mood change.
    • Week 49 – Cooking: Try an all-vegetable stir-fry served over whole-grain rice. The key to a crispy stir-fry is very hot oil – your veggies will cook quickly instead of soaking up unneeded fat.
    • Week 50 – Financial wellness: Cut back on soft drinks, coffee or snacks at work. You’d be surprised how much you spend per day or week on these items. It really adds up over time. Your pocketbook and your waistline will thank you.
    • Week 51 – Exercise: Your body is designed to twist when you move. In fact, reminding your body to twist at the hips is one of the most important things you can do. Try this exercise. Begin walking, and on each step, place your foot down on the opposite side of the centerline of your body. Another exercise is to stand and reach your arms across your body, alternating with your right and left arms.
    • Week 52 – Self-care: Happiness is a choice. You can choose to live in the moment and enjoy what you are currently doing or wish you were doing or enjoying something else. What’s your choice?

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