corporate wellness

A Podcast a Day Might Keep the Doctor Away

The podcast. It can help you learn Spanish, catch you up on “This American Life”, and fuel your already fanatical knowledge about major league baseball. But for those who believe that time flies when you’re having fun, the podcast can also offer the motivation needed to accumulate more than your daily dose of steps in a snap.

Podcasts are audio programs that can be easily downloaded to your portable media player or smartphone, with topics that range from full-length novels to political commentary shows, comedy skits, mysteries, fitness tips, educational lectures, how-tos – even old time radio shows. The best part: they’re absolutely free.

The only caveat is that, once you’re hooked, you may want a larger device to keep all of those downloaded broadcasts for future reference. But Apple does provide the option to stream or erase episodes just in case you’re not inclined to listen to the How to Make the Perfect Christmas Ham podcast every time December rolls around.

Podcasts are easily accessed from any iPad, iPod, iPhone, or Android phone. From your computer, you’ll need to download the iTunes application. From a mobile device or tablet, you’ll need to download the Podcasts App for iOS or a podcast player for Android through the PlayStore. Once you have the right application, simply browse all categories or scroll through the most popular.

To download a podcast on your iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone:

1. Download the Podcasts App.

2. Open the Podcasts App.

3. Browse or search for a podcast.

4. Click or tap the podcast to view full details.

5. Click or tap the individual episode you’d like to play.

To download a podcast on your Android:

1. Visit the PlayStore on your Android phone to download a podcast player app. Pocket Casts and Podcast Addict are two popular options.

2. Open your podcast player app.

3. Browse or search for a podcast.

4. Click or tap the podcast to view full details.

5. Click or tap the individual episode you’d like to play.

To download a podcast to your classic iPod, PC, or Mac computer:

1. Open iTunes.

2. From the top menu bar, click View and then Podcasts.

3. Toggle the top sub-menu from My Podcasts to iTunes Store.

4. Browse or search for a podcast.

5. Click the podcast to view full details, then click the individual episode you’d like to play or download.

6. Sync your iPod with your PC or Mac to listen anytime and anywhere.

If you’re on a continuous Internet connection, streaming can help you save space. Download an episode if your Internet connection is unreliable or if you’d like to play it offline. Subscribing to a podcast will automatically download new episodes as they’re published.

So the next time you slip on your walking shoes, make sure your smartphone or media player is queued-up with all of your favorite podcasts. That way, in addition to skyrocketing your health, you can also simultaneously get your daily dose of global news, economics, and brain food. You might also become trilingual. Who knows? There’s nothing stopping you, now.

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Sit Less Often to Reduce Blood Sugar and Cholesterol Levels

Sit Less Often To Reduce Blood Sugar and Cholesterol Levels

Even if you exercise regularly at the gym or on your at-home weight bench, sitting for prolonged periods of time can still lead to increased blood sugar and cholesterol levels, concludes a new study published July 31 in the European Heart Journal.

The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study used activity monitors to track the length of time 789 participants spent sitting or lying down, standing, walking, and running during their day. Monitors were worn and data was compiled for a full seven days – 24 hours a day. They were also measured for vital statistics including blood pressure, height, weight, and waist circumference. Blood samples were also taken. Participants included both men and women ranging in age from 36 to 80.

Researchers discovered that substituting just two hours of sitting with standing per day was associated with a reduction of average triglycerides by 11 percent and a two percent reduction in blood sugar levels. A drop in bad cholesterol, or LDL and an increase in good cholesterol, or HDL, was also associated with increased standing vs. sitting.

Lead author, senior research fellow at the University of Queensland in Herston Genevieve Healy, said that merely substituting some sitting time with standing could benefit your heart, blood sugar levels, fats in the blood and cholesterol levels – even your metabolism. In fact, two hours of walking or running instead of sitting was also associated with an approximate three-inch decrease in waist size and an 11 percent decrease in average body mass.

So even if you play by the rules with a dedicated strength training and cardio routine, be mindful of your activities during the hours in-between. Avoid long periods of sitting by walking or standing whenever possible to break-up long sedentary stretches.

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Which Diet Type is Best?

Which Diet Type is Best?

It seems like there is always a new diet or nutrition program vying for our attention.  Sometimes it is difficult to determine what is a real diet versus what is just a fad.

It turns out that other people wonder the same thing.  U.S. News and World Report decided to put together a compilation of the Top-Rated Diets Overall.  Here’s what their website tells us:

U.S. News evaluated and ranked the 35 diets with input from a panel of health experts. To be top-rated, a diet had to be relatively easy to follow, nutritious, safe, effective for weight loss and protective against diabetes and heart disease. The government-endorsed Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)snagged the top spot.

To take a look at all of the Top-Rated Diets, just visit the U.S. News and World Report’s website.

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Is Activity More Important Than Diet?

Being Overweight or Obese is Directly Connected to Activity.

A common thought for some time has been that obesity is related more to a person’s diet than anything else.  Some studies are showing that this may not be the case.  In fact, it’s becoming more usual for people to adjust their diets and make better food choices, as they get older.  This isn’t solving the problem of weight gain.   A recent study published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Journal observed American adults ages 20 to over 70 years old (nearly 5,000 which is a large enough sample to achieve accurate findings).  What they found according to lead researcher Russell Pate, Ph.D., is “that increasing fatness with age in U.S. adults cannot be explained by changes in the quality of the diet they consume.”

The bottom line?   It is primarily physical activity that addresses the increasing obesity concern not diet.

Imagine the compounded savings accrued if a company were to tackle improving multiple health conditions while preventing other conditions?

The importance of employers helping employees become more active and engage in their own wellness cannot be understated.

Walkingspree’s program is a simple solution that directly addresses the need to decrease overall healthcare costs.   Walking is an activity that can improve and alleviate numerous health challenges.

That is the goal of a targeted corporate walking program like Walkingspree.  For further information, visit or email

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Walkingspree Success Stories

Success stories can motivate you. They provide inspiration when you see other everyday people like yourselves, pushing themselves a little further to achieve a goal. These recent Walkingspree success stories include our winning entry from Lillie as well as honorable mentions from many other deserving members.

We hope you are inspired by them as much as we were.

“I enjoyed walking when I was younger but as I’ve gotten older and busier I’ve moved away from the habit. When we received the pedometers from BCBSM as part of a healthier living incentive I was challenged. I had been saying that I wanted to lose the weight I had gained and just thinking of my health in general. It was time I reintroduce myself to a habit that I use to love. Every day I made it my goal to increase my steps or at least match the day previous day’s record. I started taking the steps instead of riding the elevator. Instead of driving to the convenience store I started walking there. Before long I was walking almost every day.

I eventually started noticing a difference in the way that my clothes were fitting and how my body was feeling. I was actually losing the weight and at the same time getting a quiet moment to myself to reflect.

I’m glad to say that I’m still walking and I feel good. I’m down 47 pounds and counting. This challenge has been extremely instrumental in helping me get back to walking and taking better care of my over all healthy.

Thank you Blue Cross and Blue Shield for challenging your employees to B Well!! I know it made a difference in my life.
Lillie, BCBS of Michigan Employee

“My name is Amy and I am 31. When I was 29 years old I passed out in the bathtub and hit my head and broke my nose. I ended up having a closed head injury. The hospital couldn’t say for sure that I passed out from anything specific, but they said I was unhealthy and I needed to change my life and fast. I had high cholesterol and I was very over weight and unhappy. My health insurance was asking us to participate in a program to manage our BMI or pay more out of pocket for our health insurance. I felt like they were forcing me to choose a plan that they felt would make me “healthy”, I didn’t feel like anything would make me healthy, I was destined to be fat and unhappy. I was angry, how could they force me to change my life?!? Who were they to demand such an action from unhappy me? Didn’t they know I was tired? I am a mommy, a full time employee and full time graduate school student. Who has time to walk?!?

But, being the cheap skate that I am, I wanted to keep my health insurance premium down and so I began walking to show that silly company that a pedometer wouldn’t make me change my life, I’d show them! Slowly but surely, I tried to walk a little more each day just to get the silly program over with. I’d show them! By the end of the second quarter I had lost about 10 pounds just from walking. I began to see that life could change. I wasn’t trapped in this big body that made me sad. I began looking into something called a 5k, it was completely foreign to my me, could I do a 5k? I did just that. I walked my first 5k in March 2012, I finished in 53 minutes. I don’t think I’ve ever been that proud of myself. I decided to keep a private journal reflecting my thoughts, I wanted to track not only my physical changes but my emotional changes as well.

I decided maybe this walking thing wasn’t that bad, and if I could walk, maybe I could jog. I began to jog very slowly, but jog none the less. I ended up walk/ jogging three more 5ks that summer. I began finishing my required steps for Walkingspree more than a month early. I suddenly realized, that company that I was trying to prove that a pedometer wouldn’t change my life was doing just that, it opened a door to a new me. It changed me, it made me start to ask myself what else can I do? What else can I change? When summer came and it got hot outside, I lost my drive. I’ve always hated to be hot, I quickly put back on the weight that I had lost and then some. Soon fall was here, and I was sad and angry again. I decided to read my journal that I kept, and I found my inspiration to get moving again. I found the post of the first time that I was able to walk over 10,000 steps in a day. I remember this was a huge milestone for me, I had always felt like that was an impossible number to reach.

In the fall, once the weather began to cool, I began to get moving again. I began jogging and walking, or doing other cardio workouts and looking at the emails that Walkingspree sent me about healthy eating. I made some changes and in just over six months I’ve lost almost 60 pounds. I no longer have high cholesterol and I am moving my BMI down into the the overweight range, as opposed to the morbidly obese range. I feel so much better about myself. I’m happy and I have energy, I look forward to my workouts now. I’ve even set a goal to run a half marathon in February of 2014. To think all this change saved me from myself, all started because of a little pedometer. “
Amy, Blue Care Network of Michigan’s Healthy Blue Living insurance member

I am so happy and motivated to be a part of this awesome program! Thank you BROADWAY! Having the pedometer really motivates me to get off the couch and take extra steps when I’m home and this weekend, I took my children walking and running with me as well. It was awesome!”
Heather, Broadway Bank Employee

I’ve only lost about 10 lbs during my Mall Walkers membership, but I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge about myself & my habits. I LOVE my pedometer & how easy it is to upload & monitor my progress. We’ve had several family funerals this spring with out-of-town house guests & they teased me about all my walking, but I just smiled & told them that I’m “on the road to a better me” & the walking is a NECESSITY to keep all my joints fit & the food from “sticking”. I’ve also shared the Walkingspree recipes & forward the motivational emails on. I’ve also included other friends into my monthly Mall Walkers events. So- THANKS Jen & the Mall Walkers team!!!!!!!
Bernadette, Excela Health member

I work at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. I have lost 43 pounds in the last 3 years with the help of Weight Watchers and Walkingspree. I am including my husband George in the picture because he has been with me every “step of the way.” He also keeps track of his steps. Making time to walk is a challenge every day.

I also want to say thank you to my co-workers. We have our own walking challenges in between the official Walkingspree challenges. It keeps us all motivated! Being healthy is not easy…it can be downright brutal. But, so worth it!

Thank you.
Patti, BCBS of Michigan Employee

Had to take a minute and tell you how Walkingspree has changed my life. I try to get in at least 12,000 steps a day. I have lost 30 pounds and feel so much better. Time to go on a ShoppingSpree! It has helped my asthma and given me more energy to do those things that I used to shy away from. Thanks so much for my new life!
Rose, United Methodist Church Employee

Since I began the Walkingspree program last January, I have lost 12 pounds. I was taking Prilosec daily for acid reflux disease. With the weight loss and the walking program, I no longer need to take Prilosec. Also, my blood pressure was borderline high in January of 2012. I was monitoring my blood pressure and pleaded with my doctor to give me three months to exercise and lose weight so that I wouldn’t have to take medication. Within three months, my blood pressure was normal. I am thankful for the Walkingspree program. It was just the right inspiration I needed to be motivated to walk every day.
Vicki, BCBS of Michigan Employee

Walkingspree is a specialized wellness program vendor that employs interactive technology to inspire healthier choices and increased physical activity. Walkingspree programs are already in use by health insurers, insurance brokers, Fortune 500 companies, and small to medium sized businesses. To learn more about the significant benefits that your company and your employees can realize with our corporate walking program, request a demo today.

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