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SelfHelpWorks: Activity Log and Walking Summary

Posted By SelfHelpWorks Product Team, Wednesday, February 26, 2020

LivingFit is a 12-week walking program that includes a cognitive behavioral training component designed to help participants ease into exercise and enjoy daily physical activity so that it becomes a regular part of life. The program is divided into three distinct four-week segments, each designed to serve a specific purpose that takes the participant to a new level of activity. LivingFit focuses on changing the way participants think about being active rather than providing a workout regimen, and the result is genuine, lasting behavior change and a higher quality of life.

The LivingFit course contains two closely related elements that raise user accountability, promote mindfulness through interaction, and provide visual motivation to increase activity levels.  

The LivingFit course is specifically targeted to users who are mostly inactive or even completely sedentary, but it can benefit anyone who wants to increase their daily activity or reframe their attitudinal outlook on exercise.

The course contains a metrical centerpiece—comprised of two parts—that functions as a prime motivational tool for users.

The Activity Log

Each session of the LivingFit course (which progresses on a week-by-week basis) issues the user two different types of challenges:

  1. The weekly walking goal: This is a combination of the number of days to walk, the walking pace, AND the total amount of time the user is challenged to walk.
  2. The daily goal: This is an assignment that engages the brain's habit-creation system, often encourages introspection, and plays a pivotal role in re-framing the user's attitude about exercise.  

Both goal-types become incrementally more challenging as the course unfolds. Users are prompted to enter their minutes walking and their completion of the daily goal in the activity log every day (although they can retroactively fill in days they've missed back to the previous week). Here is an example of the activity log, as it appears in week 3:

The Walking Summary

The Walking Summary is kept in the Tools section of the course library; it compiles all the data entered into the Activity Log and displays it so the user can see a weekly breakdown of their days walked, minutes walked, and completion of daily goals. At the top of the summary are the totals for all categories logged:

  1. Minutes walked since starting the course
  2. Hours walked since starting the course 
  3. Average minutes walked per week
  4. Ongoing percentage of daily goals met
  5. Daily breakdown of walking minutes organized by week, with totals on the right to reveal trends later in the course
  6. Days the daily goal was met, and number of days walking minutes were logged (in relation to how many goal-days there were)

In Summary

The Activity Log gives the user a sense of accountability and interactivity within the LivingFit course. There are regular reminders to fill in the activity log that are woven into each session; also, users have the option to schedule reminders sent via email and/or text.

The Walking Summary is designed to give users both a snapshot and a detailed report on their activity levels and adherence to the daily goal challenge. As the user continues through the course, the Walking Summary provides a journal of progress and achievement. 

SelfHelpWorks partners with employers, wellness vendors, health plans and healthcare providers to help people achieve lasting behavior change that lowers chronic disease risk, improves health, and enhances outcomes. Their program LivingFit is a 12-week walking program that includes a cognitive behavioral training component designed to help participants ease into exercise and enjoy daily physical activity so that it becomes a regular part of life, keeping in line with the Physical Dimension of Wellness from NWI's Six Dimensions of Wellness Model.

Tags:  Exercise  physical  Physical Activity  physical wellness  walking 

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Combating the ‘Silent Killer’

Posted By Colin Bullen, Monday, December 16, 2019

This is part 1 of The BRATLAB ‘Behavioral Prescription’ Series

High blood pressure, or "hypertension" has no immediately noticeable symptoms. It is therefore difficult to spot and often referred to as the "silent killer." It is one of the most frequently diagnosed health conditions amongst US adults and was a primary or contributing cause of death for more than 410,000 Americans in 2014. That's over 1,000 deaths each day and represents an 18% increase since 2009.

Hypertension is defined as blood pressure in excess of 140mmHg Systolic or 90mmHg Diastolic (“140 over 90”) and these levels are experienced by over 30% of the US population. The percentage of the population with hypertension increases significantly with age and is one of the leading indicators for chronic heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, aneurysms and aortic disease. The relationship between high blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease events is continuous, consistent, and independent of other risk factors — the higher the blood pressure, the greater is the chance of heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.

If you have a population impacted by hypertension, what behavior change would have the greatest impact on an individual’s risk profile? With a limited budget, where should you focus your resources?

The most effective wellness interventions for High Blood Pressure

Seniors laughing using hula hoops outdoorsThe Behavioural Research and Applied Technology Laboratory research suggests that behavior change can reduce hypertension significantly, and fast. Compared to other lifestyle habits, exercise has the largest impact. Research suggests that a reduction of around 55% in the prevalence of hypertension can be achieved through a ‘habit prescription’ or ‘dose’ of cardiovascular exercise at moderate (brisk walk) to intense (running) intensity levels for 30 minutes, five days per week. Although physicians recommend that exercise should still be combined with drug therapy, clinical trials confirm that exercise is at least as effective at controlling blood pressure as medicines — and with none of the unpleasant side effects.

In addition to exercise, getting adequate sleep (>7 hours per night) and meditation (transcendental, practiced twice a day for 20 minutes) significantly reduce hypertension prevalence by up to 40%. Other wellness interventions also show benefits, but not as large as these.

Making the Change: Adopting Healthy Behaviors that Reduce Hypertension

Organizations looking to change the health risk profile of their employee populations would do well to address hypertension, at least through exercise. Setting up a change-ready environment that allows employees to adopt healthier behaviors regarding exercise, meditation and sleep hygiene will result in significant improvements in an organization’s health risk profile.

Alongside the 30% of the population with hypertension, it’s estimated that around 60% of the US population does not exercise adequately. In the worst case this means that 18% of a typical US population will both hypertensive and not exercising adequately. However, given these findings, it’s likely that more than 60% of the hypertensive population are not exercising, meaning that 18% is an underestimate. Combining this finding with the 55% reduction available through exercise, suggests that a reduction of at least 10% in hypertension prevalence is achievable in a typical US population.

Within a few years, that will translate to significant reductions in cardiovascular and heart disease, more than reversing the increasing trend and reducing health plan costs. The cost and productivity benefits will manifest over time and can be accurately predicted.

Any organization looking to evaluate the impact of investing in these changes or wanting to understand more about how to create happy, healthy and change-ready cultures should contact Change Craft at hello@changecraft.consulting.

Colin BullenColin Bullen is the founder and director of Change Craft, a global business established to help organisations execute effective and successful wellbeing change. In business, he’s the technician, evaluator, and strategist. A true road-less-travelled devotee, he qualified as an actuary in 1992 in the UK before spending 13 years in South Africa where he met Chicago-based business partner Hanlie van Wyk. During this time, he has steadily broadened his métier into health, well-being, leadership, strategy, assessment, and data.

Colin has a deep passion for helping companies find their human touch, whilst accelerating their performance and focusing their vision. Colin is also one of the creators of the behavioural research database that is BRATLAB and has been a driving force behind early successes in Change Craft.


Tags:  aneurysm  aortic disease  exercise  heart attack  heart disease  high blood pressure  hypertension  Physical Wellness  stroke 

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How Nature Walks Make Your Brain Healthier

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, September 6, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, September 5, 2017


Infographic and article contributed by Rebecca Hill, Physiomed


There are many ways to improve your health, but if you’re looking for a simple strategy that provides real results, then walking may be the best option for your needs. It provides physical and mental health benefits while preventing the onset of disease.

Research shows that walking in natural settings can be even more beneficial to improving one’s health and performance.

This infographic from Physiomed can give you a better understanding of the benefits that walking in nature provides. You can implement this simple step in your own exercise program to enhance your well-being and increase your level of vitality. 

Walking in Nature for Better Health

Walking has physiological effects on the brain and body. It can change the nature of blood flow in positive ways while supporting the health of the immune, digestive, and reproductive systems. 

Natural settings are ideal for walking. Regular walks in the park or woods can produce about a 50% decrease in some mental health problems, such as those related to depression and anxiety. People who live close to natural green spaces are less likely to suffer from these conditions. 

How Walking Benefits Your Health 

Regular walks help you manage your weight and reduce food cravings, can relieve joint pain, and may lower the risk of osteoarthritis. Walking is a good way to reduce sick days by improving the strength of the immune system. It is a simple and powerful way to improve health and daily performance. 

Overcoming Today’s Health Risks 

People who live in cities are more likely to experience high levels of stress, depression, and anxiety. Left unaddressed, these issues can lead to secondary health problems that have lasting impacts. More than half of the people alive today live in urban areas. This number is expected to increase, along with the prevalence of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, asthma, and other common health issues. Walking in nature is the easiest way to help protect yourself from these and other diseases. Make walking a part of your daily routine to enhance your long-term well-being and establish a foundation of health for your future.  

Tags:  exercise  nature walks  stress reduction  walking  walking in nature 

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Sedentary Lifestyle May Impair Academic Performance in Boys

Posted By NWI, Monday, December 5, 2016

A study from Finland has shown that boys ages 6-8 who lead a sedentary lifestyle have lower academic performance than their active counterparts.


The longitudinal study, performed by the University of Easter Finland jointly with the Univerity of Jyväskylä and the University of Cambridge, measured the activity levels of the 6-8 year old boys objectively via heart rate and activity monitors and used standardized tests in reading and arithmetic to measure the boys’ cognitive abilities.


The boys who showed more moderate or high activity levels did markedly better on the academic tests than those who showed little to no activity, inferring that a sedentary lifestyle may have significant detrimental effects on boys’ academic development.


The study showed little correlation between activity and academics for girls of the same age.


To read the study from the University of Eastern Finland, click here.

Tags:  Academics  Boys  Brain Health  children  Children's Health  Exercise 

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Aerobic Exercise Preserves Brain Volume and Improves Cognitive Function

Posted By NWI, Monday, December 5, 2016

“Even over a short period of time, we saw aerobic exercise lead to a remarkable change in the brain.” 


This quote is from the lead researcher, Laura D. Baker, Ph.D., from the Wake Forest School of Medicine (WFSM), referring to the findings she and her team discovered when researching the affects of aerobic exercise on the brain’s volume and function.


The research team at WFSM split a group of people who suffer from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) into a group that would perform aerobic exercise tasks, such as running on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike, and a control group of people who would perform stretching exercises.  Both groups did their prescribed exercise routine four times per week for six months.


Though both groups saw increases in grey matter over the course of their routines, as tested by an MRI, only the group saw an increase in the white matter, the connective tissues of the brain. The aerobic activity group also saw an increase in cognitive function, whereas the stretching activity group did not.


This study has implications for how doctors may be treating MCI patients, who are at a higher risk of contracting Alzheimer’s Disease, in the future.


To read an article on this study, published by the Radiological Society of North America, click here.

Tags:  aerobic exercise  Brain health  brain science  exercise  physical 

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The Elderly may Benefit Most from Exercise

Posted By NWI, Monday, November 7, 2016

When we think of exercise, we often think of young, fit people running marathons or swimming laps at your local gym, but a recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society makes the claim that the people who may benefit most directly from exercise aren’t the young and fit, but the elderly and the infirm.


In their study of data collected at the University of Pittsburgh over 25 years, older adults who maintained lifestyles that included a good diet, physical activity, and avoided smoking lived longer then their peers and had fewer years of illness and disability before death.


The average amount of time spent disabled in old age was 4.5 years for women and 2.9 years for men, but the researchers found a large variance in the time spent disables based on the health habits of the individuals.


For instance, a woman with healthy habits may spend 2 years disabled, compared to a similar woman with poor habits, who could expect to spend 3.7 years disabled – nearly a factor of 2. Some other factors that created problems in old age were smoking, which added 3.7 years of disability to a person’s life, or obesity, which added 0.7 years of disability.  All told, the researchers found that those with healthy habits spent 80% of their time, on average, disability free, compared to 60% of the time for people with poor habits.


Click here to read the study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.


Tags:  Aging  Exercise  Geriatrics  Physical  Physical Wellness 

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Outrunning Schizophrenia

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Schizophrenia is a terrible malady that effects as many as 51 million people worldwide with only a 25% complete recovery rate.


However, there is some hope for those afflicted with schizophrenia. New research, published in Schizophrenia Bulletin this August, has found that combining traditional medicinal treatments with aerobic exercise has a more significant improvement on patients’ cognitive function.


Patients who took part in a greater amount of exercise, and therefore saw greater improvements in their physical fitness, also saw more significant improvement in their cognitive function as well, seeming to draw a direct correlation between physical and mental wellness.


The researchers performing this study are optimistic that exercise can pave they way for more effective treatment of schizophrenia in the future, noting that treating the malady with exercise from the earliest stages may increase the likelihood of complete functional recovery for many afflicted.


To read the full research, visit Schizophrenia Bulletin.

Tags:  Exercise  Mental Health  Physical  Schizophrenia 

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Belief in Exercise Turns Into Real Benefit

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Researchers from Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg (Germany) published some astonishing findings about the effects of a positive mindset toward exercise in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine this month.  The researchers found that exercise had a stronger and more positive effect for those who believed that it would have a positive effect.


The researchers invited 76 men and women between the ages of 18 and 30 to come to their facilities to ride on stationary bicycles. A subset of this group was shown a video promoting the health benefits of stationary bike riding before taking part in the experiment. All participants were also asked whether they believed int eh positive effects of exercise. The researchers found that subjects who had either seen the video, believed in exercise, or both, displayed a better mood, enjoyed the exercise more, and reduced their anxiety more than those who did not.


Electroencephalogram (EEG) read-outs of the subjects also showed that the exercise-positive subjects were more relaxed on a neuronal level than those who were not.


The researchers did not find significant changes to the positive physical effects of exercise, but on the mental level, the power of positivity seems to have a significant impact.


To read the full study, click here.

Tags:  Belief  Exercise  Health  Mind-Body  Physical  Positivity 

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Runners Have Different Brains. Literally

Posted By NWI, Monday, July 11, 2016

It’s been known for quite a while that the brain chemistry of people who exercise is different from the brain chemistry of people who don’t, but new findings published by the scientific journal eLife have started to explain how and why.


Scientists studied two sets of mice. One group was allowed to run. The other was not. As expected, their brain chemistries were different, but in this study, the scientists were able to identify a chemical called “brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF),” which promotes brain activity and growth. BDNF was found to be higher in the running mice than the non-running mice.


To better understand why, though, the scientists found the gene that is responsible for creating BDNF. BDNF was being created in both sets of mice’s brains, but in the non-running mice’s brains, a molecule was binding to the gene, preventing as much BDNF from being released.


In the running mice’s brains, ketones – a byproduct of the body burning fat for fuel – seemed to be counteracting the molecule’s ability to bind to the BDNF gene, allowing it to release more of the chemical into the brain.


The research team stated that the release of ketones in the human body only really begins after an hour of exercise, which is not feasible for many people, but not to worry – similar brain-enhancing chemistry is occurring even at lower rates of exercise. The important thing is just to keep moving.


To read the full study at eLife, click here.

Tags:  Brain Health  Brain science  Exercise  Health  Neuroscience  Running 

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Wellness in 10: 10 ways to get ready for Spring

Posted By NWI, Monday, March 7, 2016

Show of hands: who’s sick of winter?

I think we’re all getting to the point where we feel that Jack Frost has overstayed his welcome, and we’re eagerly looking at the bare tree branches for the first signs of buds. Rest assured, though – Spring is right around the corner.

In anticipation of the coming warmth and growth that comes with it, here are 10 ideas to help you (and your employees, customers, clients, etc.) take full advantage of this great time of year:


1.     Get out of hibernation mode

Time to shake the dust off! Many of us have had a long winter of evenings filled with  Netflix and hot tea or cocoa while sitting under a blanket.  Now is  a great time to get mentally prepared to be more active and involved. Set aside time to mindfully sit and make goals for what  you want to accomplish this spring, and create sub-goals to use as benchmarks on your path to springtime success!


2.     Plan to get active

After a long winter, a little physical activity will feel great. Check up on local recreational sport leagues and plan to get involved. Many softball leagues, running clubs, and pick-up soccer and basketball games welcome new members in the spring.  By signing up for a rec league, you’re more likely to feel accountable to other people to show up, and are therefore more likely to follow through on your exercise goals. It’s a win-win!


3.     Start your garden

Those of you who garden probably don’t have to be reminded of this.  For those with a green thumb, planning a vegetable or flower garden is a highlight of January and February, with all the fun of imagining how beautiful it will be, and how tasty the veggies will be!  Those of you who have never tried gardening before – give it a shot! There’s no reason you can’t start small. Raising one or two tomato plants from seeds will give you a sense of accomplishment, you’ll get to know first-hand how delicious garden-fresh vegetables can be, and you’ll get a real sense of pride when you’re able to use the fruits of your labor (literally!) in your own salad or recipe.


4.     Get some sunshine

Daylight saving time is here as of March 13, and the days are getting noticeably longer! The sun will rise an hour earlier, giving us an opportunity to get active earlier in the morning. That morning run or walk won’t feel like you’re creeping through the dark any more, so take advantage of it! Not only will your body appreciate the exercise, the Vitamin D that we miss out on in the winter will also be a welcome addition.


5.     Spring Cleaning

Many of us agree: cleaning is no fun. Many of us can also agree: having a clean place to live is great. Therefore we need to go through one to get the other.  The best way to tackle spring cleaning is to just do it. Schedule a time for you and your roommates, bestie, partner, spouse, kids, and/or everyone else well in advance to power through it and get it done. Be sure to put it on everyone’s calendar. Make up a chore list, split it up, and tackle it. Turn it into an event, complete with party music, fresh air, and peoples’ favorite foods, and you’ll be done before you know it.  When it’s over, everyone is going to feel so much better.


6.     Help someone else with their spring cleaning

You know how good you felt when you got your spring cleaning done? Why not do that for someone else? There are plenty of elderly, disabled, or infirm people who would love some help with house or yard work that they physically aren’t capable of doing themselves. Take an opportunity this spring to reach out and help someone in need. You’ll both feel better for it.


7.     Try something new (or new to you

It turns out there are tons of great outdoor games. Organize a get-together for some family, friends, or neighbors to get together and have a good time. Classic yard games like bocce or bolo golf are crowd favorites, or try finding a local disc golf course and trying your hand. These types of games are low-impact and laid-back, making them perfect for all ages and abilities. For those that are a little fitter and energetic, try getting into an Ultimate Frisbee league, or Kabaddi game. These games are more high-impact, but also a blast to play!


8.     Catch a local sporting event

You don’t have to play sports to enjoy them. It means a lot to student athletes to have fans in the stands, so check out the local high school athletics schedule and go watch some track or baseball. The athletes will appreciate it, and you’ll get a relaxing couple hours in the sun and fresh air.


9.     Play in the mud

Spring usually brings rain, and rain usually brings mud. Remember how fun it was to jump in puddles when you were a kid? It’s still just as fun, but for it to be socially acceptable as an adult it probably means doing it while engaged in another activity. So get out your mountain bike or trail running shoes and head to the woods for an old-fashioned muddy good time! We promise not to tell the real reason you’re there.


10. Make plans to see old friends and new at the National Wellness Conference

If you haven’t registered yet, this spring is the time to sign up to attend the National Wellness Conference.  The NWC is the best place to get current and trending wellness knowledge geared for wellness professionals and experts, as well as meet peers and listen to inspiring keynotes.  Make sure to get signed up now to save your place!


Those are 10 ideas for making this spring your wellest spring ever! What else are you doing with your spring to get the most out of it?

Tags:  Exercise  Gardening  Mental Health  Spring  Wellness In 10 

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