Digital health coaching provides numerous benefits for the health and wellbeing of employees. It allows for flexibility, customization, and efficiency. This provides the employee with care in-between visits to increase health outcomes and lower overall costs.
Anyone can benefit from a digital health coach. However, some occupational categories are more more likely to get stuck in a sedentary lifestyle. Other jobs may lack access to wellness resources or the time to practice good self-care. Some employees just need more personalized strategies to achieve health goals. We’ve outlined some of the top occupational categories that we’ve worked with, and why they benefit from a digital health coach.
The data: Many jobs require long hours sitting at a desk. According to a 2017 study at the University of Warwick, a longer time spent sitting during the day is significantly associated with a higher risk of heart disease and a larger waistline. An article in Scientific American documented that those who sit for more than four hours a day watching TV have a 46% increase in mortality rates when compared to those who sat for less than 2 hours watching television. Many of those in desk-ridden jobs may be glued to their chairs for eight hours a day or more. Increased time sitting is directly correlated with higher BMI and higher chronic diseases, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Why they need it: Thanks to smartphones and watches, we have little reminders that can tell us to stand more if we are in a predominantly sedentary job. However, those reminders are easier to push away if things get busy. A weekly call with a real human can be the extra push someone needs to get their body moving more. Plus, at Pack Health, we can integrate with your smart devices to include that info in your daily metrics.
The data: A recent study in Ergonomics investigated the workplace wellness of 1120 employees across 10 worksites. The study attempted to understand the correlation between employee wellness and industrial sector, job role, gender, and geography. The research found employees who worked in the private sector spent significantly more time sitting during the workday than those in the public sector. Additionally, overall sitting time was higher for the private sector due to additional weekend work.
Why they need it: In addition to encouraging a sedentary lifestyle, long working hours have been shown to increase levels of stress. Digital health coaching is a great solution for employees to fit in positive health behaviors while managing a busy schedule. Digital health coaches can provide sustainable strategies to identify opportunities, minimize barriers, and stay on track with specific, measurable goals.
The Data: Professional transportation workers spend a majority, if not all, of their days, sitting. A 2018 meta-analysis of the health outcomes of a pooled sample of 3,665 professional drivers reported that approximately 46% of professional drivers were overweight and 11% were classified as obese. Approximately 20% of professional drivers in the study were reported smokers. The study also reported that professional drivers experience high levels of work-related stress. High work-related stress in transportation has been linked to poor mental health outcomes and risky behaviors behind the wheel.
Why they need it: Similar to private-sector workers, professional transportation drivers spend long hours sitting and generally have high-stress jobs due to factors such as traffic and unruly passengers. The stakes are even higher when you factor in the safety risk of long hours behind the wheel. Transportation workers have unique limitations when it comes to resources and tools for positive health behaviors. Without reliable access to grocery stores, kitchens, or gym equipment, they need to plan ahead or get creative. A digital health coach can work with professional drivers’ schedules to reduce barriers. This can include providing personalized meal plans for eating healthy on the go or recommending exercises only using body weight.
The Data: The CDC documents research supporting the concept that engagement at work contributes to employee satisfaction, safety, and job performance. Yet, according to Gallup’s 2016 State of the Workplace data, 31% of remote working employees spent 80% more of their time working away from co-workers. Although there are benefits to working remotely, including flexibility of time and space, remote workers named high levels of loneliness the biggest struggle of working remotely. Additionally, remote workers are more likely to experience burnout-related stress. This is potentially due to the perceived pressure to be consistently available for work-related commitments.
Why they need it: Depending on their living situation, remote workers can go long periods of time without speaking to or seeing another human being. A multitude of research has documented that human connection directly correlates to our health and happiness. Having a digital health coach gives remote workers a person to share their experiences with. Additionally, the regular touchpoints to support the development of a healthy routine.
The data: The health disparities that exist between those who live in rural areas versus urban areas are well documented. A cross-sectional study found that those living in rural areas were more likely to have worse health behaviors, clinical care, and physical environments. Compared to urban environments, those working in rural communities are more likely to be uninsured and have higher rates of mortality. Patients have to travel further to get care, with a 2014 report from The University of Minnesota documenting that 54% of rural counties did not have a hospital with obstetrics services. Additionally, rural health workers are not only more likely to have chronic diseases than their urban counterparts but are also more likely to have multiple chronic conditions.
Why they need it: In addition to having worse healthcare resources, rural areas are more likely to be food deserts. They are also likely to have safe exercise options and less likely to have on-site wellness resources. The remote access of digital health coaching allows connection with a coach while utilizing available space and resources. A digital health coach is able to learn more about the person. Additionally, the coach can learn more about health disparities and barriers that contribute to health decision-making behaviors. Together, the digital health coach and member can work to break those barriers down to work towards optimal health.
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