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This site is an archive of our Well Written Blog posts until April 2020. For the most up-to-date content visit NWIJournal.com.

The opinions and thoughts expressed here those of the authors and do not necessarily correlate with those of the National Wellness Institute. Read more.

 

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Walk the Walk When it Comes to Worksite Wellness

Posted By NWI, Monday, August 1, 2016

A study performed by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine asserts that by changing just one sit-down meeting per day to a walking meeting, a company will boost their employees’ physical wellness, and consequently increase the probability of a longer lifespan.

 

The study, performed on staff at the University of Miami, tracked employee movement by wearing accelerometers (step trackers). The employees that engaged in walking meetings increased their physical activity by 10 minutes.

 

10 minutes may seem like a trivial amount of time, but many employees in white-collar jobs find that they struggle to meet the recommended 30 minutes per day of physical activity. In addition, other studies have shown that an increase of physical activity by 15 minutes per day may add as much as three years to life expectancy.

 

By encouraging their employees to take their meetings outdoors, the University of Miami is actively promoting a well lifestyle, and promoting their employees’ longevity simultaneously.

 

To read the study from the University of Miami, click here.

Tags:  Longevity  Physical Wellness  Walking  Walking Meeting  Worksite Wellness 

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Wellness in 10: 10 Ways to Get More Summer Out of Your Summer

Posted By NWI, Monday, July 11, 2016

It almost feels like cheating, writing about how to stay active in July. The weather is warm, the days are long, and people practically vibrate with the urge to get outside.  So that’s why this month we’re going to go a step further and make some suggestions on how to maximize your time outside, so you can squeeze every bit of summer out of your summer.

 

 

 

1.     Pack a laptop

 

This one may seem obvious, but if you have the ability to take your computer outside, take it outside! Screen glare aside, it’s been shown that spending time around trees and green space makes people more calm and relaxed. Retreating to a picnic table or bench outside, even for a few minutes, can have a significant impact on your day.

 

 

2.     Camp

 

Want to make a commitment to being outside? Do it for a whole weekend (or more)! Many of us feel like camping can be more work than its worth, but with national forest, national parks, and campsites all over the country, there’s sure to be one near home where you can escape for a bit, and run back for supplies if you need to – or if an errant thunderstorm pops up! Here’s a nation-wide directory of campsites so you can plan where you want to go next.

 

 

3.     Walking meetings

 

Meetings can be super boring – nobody is going to argue that. Liven them up and get your fresh air at the same time by taking it on the road. A 30 minute meeting/walk will let you bond with your teammates while engaging your minds and getting you out from behind another Powerpoint presentation.  If it’s a phone meeting, grab your Bluetooth headset and hike while you talk. We won’t tell.

 

 

4.     Bike Commute

 

Commuting by bike is intimidating to a lot of people. It seems dangerous. It takes longer. What do you do when you show up to work all sweaty? The truth is that bike commuting does take more planning, like packing extra clothes and watching the weather forecast, but it’s also a fantastic way to sneak in a workout or two into a day, and – if you plan your route to avoid car traffic – can be incredibly relaxing and fun! You don’t need a ton of gear, either. A bike, a helmet, and a backpack are usually all you need to get started.  Here are some pro-tips from long-time bike commuters to help set you on the right track.

 

 

5.     Stand-Up Paddleboard

 

Many of us have heard of Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP for short) by now, but for those who haven’t, it’s an activity where you stand on a floating board, like a surfboard, but on still water, and you use a long-handled paddle to propel yourself forward. In addition to being fun, it also takes balance and muscle control to stay upright. It’s tough at first, but not so tough that you can’t get the hang of it. If you want a different way to explore your local lakes and streams, consider finding a SUP rental near you and giving it a shot.

 

 

6.     Row-row-row your boat

 

For those of you who think Paddleboarding is a bit too much to jump into, but still want to spend time on the water, consider eschewing the motorboat for a more traditional method. Rowing a boat is great exercise for your shoulders, back and core, and can be a great cardio workout. The best part about rowing, however, is that you can bring a friend along and work on your social wellness and level-up your workout at the same time!

 

 

7.     Join (or start) a kickball league

 

More traditional sports like volleyball have had rec leagues for ages, but some other sports like kickball are starting to come into their own. Many of us have fond memories of playing kickball at recess during elementary school. Well, it turns out the game is still just as fun as we remember. If running bases isn’t your thing, some other games that are gaining in popularity are Lightning (the basketball game – also called Elimination or Knockout), Ultimate Frisbee, and disc golf. All these games come with the fun and camaraderie of rec league sports, with only a fraction of the over-the-top competitiveness that some leagues tend to foster.

 

 

8.     Walk the (neighbor’s) dog

 

Want to get outside and feel good about yourself at the same time? Try volunteering for dog walking. You’ll sneak in a walk while exercising a pooch (or pooches), and someone else won’t have to do it.  Local animal shelters are always looking for volunteers for dog walking, or an elderly or infirm neighbor might appreciate having someone pitch in.

 

 

9.     Coach

 

Speaking of organizations who always need help – youth sports organizations often are short-handed when it comes to coaching sports of all kinds. Depending on the level of play, you probably don’t even have to be an expert in the sport to be a good coach. Have you ever seen a kindergarten soccer game? It’s often a blob of 5-year-olds chasing a ball in a circle. Even if you’re not a sports expert, you can still be a solid adult role model, a teacher of good sportsmanship, and a facilitator of love of exercise.

 

 

10.  Outdoor Enthusiasts Affinity Group

 

That’s just a fancy way of saying “hang out with your friends.” If your group of friends usually hangs out indoors, suggest a change of venue.  Try having your book club at the beach, game night at the park, or study group in the back yard. Just remember to bring some sunscreen and bug repellant, and your average gathering can be a breath of fresh air (literally).

 

 

 

Happy July to you all! If you’ve got more suggestions on how to get more summer out of your summer, leave us a comment, or reach out to us on our facebook, twitter, or LinkedIn pages.

 

Tags:  Biking  Coaching  health  Summer  Walking  Wellness  Worksite Wellness 

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Mindfulness: Changing Your Mind (Literally)

Posted By NWI, Monday, June 6, 2016

Researchers from the University of British Columbia  and Chemnitz University of Technology have pooled the data from 20 studies on mindfulness, and have concluded that mindfulness, defined here as non-judgemental present-moment awareness, has significant physical effects on the human brain.

 

The report states that people who have taken part in an 8-week mindfulness training saw significant growth in their grey matter in eight specific regions of the brain. The regions of the brain that saw growth are the parts that regulate mental flexibility, decision making, and stress management.

 

The researchers assert that this study should have impact upon the business community, as the traits that are affected most by the mindfulness training are traits that are highly sought after and cultivated by business leaders.

 

To read the full mindfulness study, click here.


Tags:  Brain Health  Brain Science  Meditation  Mindfulness  Worksite Wellness 

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Wellness in 10: 10 Ways to Bring Mindfulness to Your Workday

Posted By NWI, Monday, April 4, 2016

As “wellness people,” we’ve probably all heard of mindfulness training by now, and we’ve almost all heard of worksite wellness, too. Why is it, though, that we don’t hear very often of the crossover between mindfulness and worksite wellness?

 

For many people, work is the greatest source of stress in our lives, so it stands to reason that incorporating some mindfulness practices into the workday could help increase employee satisfaction and resilience while decreasing frustration and stress levels.

 

Here are some ideas on how to incorporate mindfulness into your workday:

 

1.     Make the choice to be mindful

 

Just like the start of most problem solving strategies, the first step is to acknowledge that there’s a problem. Perhaps your worksite stress isn’t a problem yet (hopefully!), but you can acknowledge that there’s always room for improvement, and that you are going to commit to trying mindfulness as a way to reduce your stress levels.

 

2.     Set an intention

 

Next, choose what your overall goal is going to be for your mindfulness practice. Do you want to be more calm during the work day? Do you want to feel less stress after you get home? Do you want more focus and organization? Whether it’s an intention for an hour, a day, a month, a year, or for your career, take some time to think about what your intentional goal will be.

 

3.      Slow down

 

Lots of employees feel like they have their pace set for them by bosses, office culture, and project timelines.  Realize that you’re really the only person who can set your pace, and the pace you pick should be one that’s sustainable in the long term.

 

 

4.     Pick something and pay attention

 

Your overall goals aren’t going to happen in one fell swoop. Each day (or week, or month), pick a specific trait or habit that you’d like to improve on. Picture how your goal behavior is different from your current behavior and make a plan for how to transition from where you are now to where you want to be.  Then do your best to enact that plan by noticing when you’re displaying the behavior you’re trying to correct, and instead moving to the new behavior.

 

5.     Practice listening

 

This sounds easy, but can be very challenging for many people.  We can hear many things going on around us, but active listening with the intent of understanding requires real focus.  When working with a coworker, try to set aside your inner dialogue for a moment, and really listen to what he or she needs or wants. Only after you have a true understanding of their perspective should you decide how you want to react.

 

6.     Focus on one thing at once

 

Next time you’re out for a run, try also eating a bowl of chili.  You don’t have to actually try this experiment to realize that even if you do succeed, it’s probably going to be difficult, messy, and a whole lot more trouble than it was worth. The same goes for when you’re working. Pick a task, and be wholly in that task while you’re doing it. That probably means closing your email, silencing your phone, and taking care of any food/bathroom breaks you might need before you get started. You’ll find that, not only do you get your task done more quickly and efficiently, you’ll also make less mistakes that you have to go back and clean up later (like that spilled chili on your run).

 

 

7.     Recognize the accomplishments of others

 

Tunnel vision can be a big problem in many workplaces. We all get so singularly focused on what we’re trying to accomplish is individuals that we forget to help our coworkers celebrate their accomplishments. A little bit of active listening can help clue you in when something big is happening for your coworkers, and a little congratulations can take you a long way when it comes to improving office morale.

 

8.     Take a meditation minute

 

It’s a little sad that taking a ‘smoke break’ is acceptable in a lot of places, but taking a ‘wellness break’ is seen as strange.  Don’t let that deter you, though. When you’ve noticed that you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, take a moment to yourself to destress. If you can, find a place where you can sit comfortably, shut your eyes, and try to focus solely on your breathing, letting other thoughts disappear. Let your shoulders drop and the muscles in your neck, mouth, and face relax.  If you need to, set a timer to bring you back to reality, but use those few minutes to feel refreshed so you can refocus on the task at hand.

 

9.     Share

 

It’s one thing to take these practices on for yourself, but it’s completely different if you share these practices with coworkers and actively work to create a culture of mindfulness. Even if you share with a couple close work friends, if you all start to see a drop in your stress levels, odds are they’ll share the practices with others, or your coworkers may ask why you’ve seemed so much more calm lately.

 

10. Connect with other experts

 

One of the best ways to improve your practice, regardless of whether it’s mindfulness or any other wellness technique, is to compare notes with other experts to find out what’s working and what’s not. Luckily, as a member of the National Wellness Institute, you have exclusive access to the NWI LinkedIn Group, where you can reach some of the best minds in the wellness industry.

 

 

Those are 10 ways that you can incorporate mindfulness into your work day. Do you have other suggestions? Let us know in the comments!

Tags:  Anxiety  Mental Health  Mindfulness  Stress  Worksite Wellness 

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Be NICE. UK Health Care Group Provides Worksite Wellness Guidelines

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The UK organization NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) has recently released an extensive list of guidelines for improving wellness in the workplace.

NICE is an organization dedicated to improving health and social care through evidence-based guidance.

NICE’s recommendations come in stark contrast to recommendations made by some other American institutions. The primary difference between the recommendations made by NICE and other organizations appears to be the overall approach to how the recommendations were formulated.

NICE’s approach is focused largely on creating a well corporate culture from the onset of the organization with an emphasis on creating an overall atmosphere of employee wellbeing. Some of the recommendations include:

 Have a proactive and visible commitment to health and safety and its role in improving the health and wellbeing of employees, that is, view health and safety as part of the culture of a caring and supportive employer – not only a statutory requirement.

and

Create a supportive environment that enables employees to be proactive when and if possible to protect and enhance their own health and wellbeing.

These types of recommendations seem to run counter to some other institutions’ approaches to workplace wellness, which seem to work to mitigate the results of a poor work environment.

With the health and wellness of employees taking a more prominent role in the corporate world, perhaps the holistic approach put forth by NICE is a good starting place for companies who are new to workplace wellness to assemble their plan.

To read all of NICE’s recommendations, click here.

Tags:  Employee Health  employee wellness  Worksite Wellness 

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Report Finds Employers Measure VOI of Wellness Programs

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Willis Health and Productivity Survey Report 2015 was released earlier this week, and the findings about workplace wellness programs were unsurprising. Namely – employers want more for their money.

There is positivity in the report, however, with Willis referring to 2015 as a “watershed year” for worksite wellness programs.

The report states that many employers have come to grips with the idea that an immediate ROI is difficult to be achieved in a short amount of time after starting a worksite wellness program. Instead, they’re shifting their focus to VOI (Value on Investment) of different aspects of their work culture that can be achieved through a quality worksite wellness program. Aspects of work culture like presenteeism, loyalty, and tenure are being improved by providing a workplace that values wellness.

ROI is still a major concern for many employers, though, and a focus on reducing medical costs of employees still weighs heavily on many employers’ minds in terms of what they expect from a wellness program.

In terms of whether or not there is merit in having a worksite wellness program, the consensus among those polled for the Willis report seems to be a resounding “Yes.”

Tags:  Employee Health  Employee Wellness  Research  Wellness  Wellness Programs  Worksite Wellness 

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Wellness in 10 - 10 Wellness Habits to Start NOW, if you Haven’t Already

Posted By NWI, Monday, October 5, 2015

This month for your wellness in 10, we’re going to cover some wellness staples that are inspired by a recent article about perseverance toward your goals, even after working toward those goals has become boring.

We all know that we have great intentions when it comes to setting goals, and it’s easy to motivate to work toward them when the idea is fresh, but a few months – or even years – into the grind toward achieving those goals it can be a real chore to find the motivation to get off that couch or pick up that pen or open that book. That’s why we’re going to take an opportunity to reaffirm the goals we’ve set for ourselves, and take some steps to create healthy habits to achieve them. 

We know that it takes around 21 days worth of repetitions to form a habit, so by doing each one of these small tasks every day, you can have turned them into healthy habits by Halloween.

 

1.     Eat Breakfast

Goal: Physical Wellness

Eating breakfast is so important for getting your body ready for the day. If you don’t feed yourself in the morning, you’re expecting your body to work until lunch without any fuel. Of course we’ve all heard this before, but many of us have fallen out of the habit of eating breakfast. Take this opportunity to buy a bag of fruit or a box of oatmeal and try to get back into the swing of a morning meal.

 

2.     Eat Something Green

Goal: Physical Wellness

We know this one, too, right? We know that green vegetables are packed with the nutrients our body needs, but we’ve fallen into the habit of eating what’s convenient rather than eating what’s good. With fall harvests happening all over the country right now, it’s a great time to get into the habit of eating something green every day. 

 

3.     Get Up and Move

Goal: Physical Wellness (bonus: Social Wellness)

That next episode on Netflix can be super tempting, and when the weather cools off, it’s difficult to find the motivation to exercise. Unfortunately bad habits are easier to form than good ones, so be extra vigilant to nip them in the bud before they form. Plan out specific times for activities, and stick to them. If you make a plan to be active with someone else, you’re more likely to follow through, and you get to expand your social wellness at the same time!

  

4.     Stand Up More

Goal: Occupational Wellness

Sitting is the new smoking. We’ve all heard that by now. It’s true, though that prolonged sitting is linked to a variety of health probems, so be sure to stand up and stretch at least, or – even better – take a short walk, to alleviate some of the detrimental effects of sitting. Invite a coworker (or your boss) out for walking breaks and improve your social bonds while you’re helping your heart and liver.

 

5.     Show Gratitude

Goal: Social Wellness (bonus: Occupational Wellness & Physical Wellness)

Not only does showing gratitude help you in the form of ingratiating yourself to others, increasing your social wellness, but it can create a more welcoming and comfortable culture in your workplace, and it can literally boost your physical health. All that from simply saying “thanks!”

  

6.     Practice Mindfulness

Goal: Spiritual Wellness/Emotional Wellness

Many people envision “mindfulness” as meditation, but it can come in many forms. For some people it’s meditation, but for others it’s prayer, yoga, or even just taking some time to organize your thoughts. Regardless of your form of mindfulness, it promises to lower your stress and help you feel more organized, energized, and in control of your situation.

 

7.     Volunteer

Goal: Social Wellness

This may seem like a hard thing to do every day, but when you think about it, it’s really not. Another way to think about this is “help out.” How many times per day do we pass by someone or a situation where we could lend a hand? By adding effort to a problem you’re strengthening your social bonds, alleviating part of someone else’s burden, and making yourself feel good in the process.

 

8.     Learn Something New

Goal: Intellectual Wellness

This is another one that seems big, but doesn’t have to be.  You don’t have to learn the laws of theoretical physics one day and the history of the English Empire the next. By seeking out something small every day, however – like a new vocabulary word or a random fact, we’re teaching ourselves that learning isn’t something that has a start and stop, but instead is part of our daily lives.

 

9.     Expand Your Real-Life Social Network

Goal: Social Wellness

This goal of meeting new people can be done a variety of ways. Many of us are creatures of habit, though, who fall into a routine of going to work, going home, an then repeating the process five days per week. Try pushing out of your normal comfort zone by saying hi to a new coworker or joining a local club. You’ll expand your social circle and potentially learn something in the process.

 

10. Track your progress

Goal: ANY & ALL

One important step that many of us skip, or have never done in the first place, is to track your progress toward the goal. By breaking your overarching goal into do-able steps, and then tracking your progress on the steps, you’re able to see real progress even on a day-to-day basis. If you’re seeing progress, you’re more likely to stick with the project and see the goal all the way through.

 

 

So there’s your October Wellness in 10. These habits may be things you’re doing already, but be sure to share them with your friends and family who aren’t. Small steps like these could add up to a big impact for them. What do you think? What are some habits you’ve created for yourself to achieve your wellness goals? 

Tags:  Fitness  Inspiration  Nutrition  Wellness  wellness In 10  Worksite Wellness 

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Study Reveals Most Effective Ways to Overcome Negative Effects of Sitting

Posted By NWI, Monday, October 5, 2015

We all know by now that sitting has a substantial negative effect on our health, but many experts are still unclear on how to avoid and reverse those negative effects when so many people work in careers that seem to necessarily be tied to working at a desk.

A recent investigation at Health Psychology Review tested a variety of ways to get sedentary workers out of their chairs. Their findings largely found that the most effective ways to get sedentary employees moving was less about focusing on exercise and more about focusing on monitoring sitting time. Employees who were educated about the dangers of prolonged sitting were more likely to participate. Some of the more effective techniques to get employees out of their chairs included monitoring sitting time by setting an alarm for every half hour, setting goals for limiting sitting time, and incorporating sit/stand desks at work.

Less effective in combating low-movement working habits were programs that focused solely on exercise.

To read the whole study, click here.

Tags:  employee wellness  Health  Sitting  Worksite Wellness 

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Your Job May be Killing You: Long Hours Tied to Coronary and Stroke

Posted By NWI, Saturday, September 5, 2015

How many times have you heard somebody say “My job is killing me!”? For many, it turns out that the exclamation is more true than we previously thought.

New research published by The Lancet has shown that long working hours, in the range of 55+ hours per week, may be a contributing factor to coronary heart disease and stroke.

In a far-reaching study conducted on more than 600,000 subjects among 24 cohorts across the US, Europe, and Australia, researchers found that there is a strong correlation between working long hours and increased risk of stroke. To a lesser degree, there is also a link between long working hours and heart disease. 

The conclusion of this study asserts that close attention should be paid to the heart health of workers who are subjected to longer than average working hours, though a cultural shift toward working fewer hours could potentially alleviate the threat.

To read the entire study, click here.

Tags:  Heart Disease  Stroke  Worksite Wellness 

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Wellness in 10: 10 Ways to Improve Your In-Office Eating Habits

Posted By NWI, Monday, August 3, 2015

Wellness in 10 this month is focused on our eating habits at work, which – for many people – have room for improvement. The crux of many of our at-work nutritional challenges stem from the fact that we’re working with limited resources like time, availability, and room for eating well, but we’re still taking in one third (or more) of our calories during the week at work!  Here are some ideas to improve your healthy eating habits, and the habits of your staff, coworkers, family and friends.

 

1.     Brown Bag It.

Eating out every day, or even most days, may prove to be convenient, but actually takes away a lot of your lunchtime choices. By bringing your own lunch to work, you’re taking control of what – and how much – you’re eating, and instead of being limited to one of the few 30-minute-or-less restaurants near your office, you have the ability to choose from anything you can fit in the refrigerator to prepare for lunch.

2.     Bring Greens.

Late summer and fall is when the harvest happens! Take advantage of the huge array of fruits and vegetables that are available to you at this time of year!  If you need ideas for how to eat veggies for lunch at work, just look up “salad in a jar,” online, and you’ll get tons of links like this one.  Your options are only limited to the selection you find at your local farmers market or grocer.

3.     Cut the sugar.

Researchers say sugar is as addictive as cocaine, so it can be hard to turn the cravings off. Taking small steps to reduce sugar intake can have a big impact on your overall health, though. Try reducing or removing the sugar from your morning coffee. You can replace the sugar with spices like cinnamon or cardamom to stave off some of the bitterness. You can also try switching over to the seemingly endless varieties of tea to keep things interesting. 

4.     Daily donut? Daily do-not.

Oh boy are donuts delicious. We all know it. We also know they’re not doing us any favors health-wise. While it probably won’t kill you to indulge in a donut from time to time, a daily sweet-roll, cruller, or cinnamon bun can weigh in at a full sixth or more of your daily recommended calorie intake.  If your morning routine normally includes a donut, try switching it up with something with similar flavors, like granola with vanilla yogurt. You’ll get the sweet flavor you’re after while being able to control the portion size. Or try switching out a daily box of donuts at the office with a bunch of bananas or a bag of apples.

5.     Hydrate your hunger.

Many of us have a hard time distinguishing between hunger and thirst. That same segment of us is also probably not drinking enough water. Next time you’re feeling hungry, try drinking a big cup of water and see if it goes away.

6.     Keep your distance.

Keeping snack food in your desk drawer is convenient. That’s not a good thing. Don’t sabotage your nutrition by keeping snack food available where you can munch at it whenever you get an urge. By removing it from your immediate vicinity, you’ll make food choices mindfully.

7.     Plan a snack break.

Nutrition at work isn’t all about denying yourself the things that you want, it’s about providing the things your body needs. Sometimes what your body needs is a little something to keep you going. By planning a snack break (which could easily coincide with your walking break), you give yourself something to look forward to, you get something to munch on, and you get to add something healthy to your day!

8.     Count it out.

Many people have never really learned what a serving size is for a variety of different foods. By taking some time to familiarize yourself with the serving sizes of various foods, you’ll start to learn how much you should be eating. With a little practice, you’ll be able to ‘eyeball’ serving sizes without any extra effort!

9.     Distract yourself.

Have you ever noticed how you never seem to get hungry when you’re in the middle of an interesting project, but while you’re watching a movie the popcorn will disappear before you realize it? Working in a flow state can curb your mindless munching. By making mindful choices to work toward flow state, you’re not only improving your office nutrition, but you’ll increase your overall happiness, too!

10.  Get group support.

Being left out stinks. That’s why a lot of us go out to eat with a crew of coworkers every day instead of packing a lunch to work.  Try recruiting a few people to eat lunch with who may have similar nutrition goals as you. You may be surprised at who’s looking to make a positive change in their overall wellness!

Tags:  Health  Nutrition  Wellness  Wellness In 10  Worksite Wellness 

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