WebMD reports that stressed employees generate 46% more healthcare costs annually, and depressed staff members cost 70% more to insure and care for than non-sufferers. The University of Maryland reports that in a study of more than 46,000 employees, stressed and depressed staff members generated 147% higher healthcare costs than their coworkers. A Thomas Reuters study revealed that depression sufferers were more than twice as likely to use short-term disability leave than their healthier counterparts. Corporate Wellness Today reports that severely depressed employees generated five times higher short-term disability costs. Worse, those figures don’t address the lost productivity and absenteeism that accompany depression.
In contrast, obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, and lack of exercise each only raise costs by 21% or less. It’s clear that traditional wellness programs don’t address the most important contributors to healthcare costs.
Physical activity and exercise can go a long way toward taking the edge off stress and anxiety and helping with relaxation. Regular aerobic exercise can exhilarate and relax, provide stimulation and calm, counter depression, and dissipate stress. It’s a common experience among endurance athletes and has been verified in clinical trials that have successfully used exercise to treat anxiety disorders and clinical depression.
Behavioral factors also contribute to the emotional benefits of exercise. As a waistline shrinks and strength and stamina increase, a person’s self-image can improve. Benefits also include a sense of mastery and control, of pride and self-confidence.
Beyond the aerobic walk, bike ride or run:
Yoga: Yoga is considered a mind-body type of complementary and alternative medicine practice. Yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines to achieve peacefulness of body and mind, helping you relax and manage stress and anxiety. The potential health benefits of yoga are numerous and may include:
- Stress reduction. With its quiet, precise movements, yoga draws your focus away from your busy, chaotic day and toward calm as you move your body through poses that require balance and concentration.
- Increased fitness. As you learn and refine new poses, you may enjoy improved balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength. And this means you’re less likely to injure yourself in other physical endeavors or in your daily activities.
- Management of chronic health conditions. Yoga might help with a variety of health conditions, such as cancer, depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia, by helping with sleep problems, fatigue and mood. Yoga also can help reduce heart rate and blood pressure.
Pilates: Clients come into a Pilates studio seeking the numerous physical benefits that are associated with the method. What they might not realize at first is that the physical benefits of a consistent and meaningful Pilates practice can go well beyond external body aesthetics. Stress reduction is a profound benefit of a regular Pilates practice. Pilates helps to ease the effects of stress through the implementation of its central principles: breathing techniques, body awareness, relaxation, concentration, mindfulness, balance and harmony.
Many professionals in the health industry—both medical and fitness—work with patients and clients that often express frustration with symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, muscle loss, weakness and depression. A high-stress lifestyle and an inability to self-manage stress is a major contributing factor to these symptoms. It isn’t easy for the medical professional to stay current on which PA programs might provide benefit for a patient. It’s even more difficult to separate the more qualified and specifically trained professionals in a community. That is what the PA Pharmacy is designed to accomplish.