Encourage a sizzling summer of activity with these insights from Vitality!

An active lifestyle is even more important for younger plan members

September 9, 2022

For business owners, plan sponsors and administrators

It’s time to move it, move it

For the past two years, we’ve been sitting down. A lot. We don’t walk during our commute, we don’t walk to get a coffee, and we’re not walking to meetings. For some employees, the only exercise they’ve been getting all day is down to the kitchen and back.

It’s taking its toll, especially on younger employees, ages 18-39. Health Canada recommends 150 minutes of exercise every week for this age group. 1 Not only are some people not getting even that amount, but a recent study also showed that 150 minutes is simply not enough. In a cohort study with 30 years of follow-up, lower levels of moderate exercise at age 18 was associated with 12% and 6% higher odds of diabetes and high triglycerides, respectively. 2

The study showed that early intervention is critical to helping employees live longer, healthier lives.

Regardless of physical activity levels across later adulthood:

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Low physical activity in young adults is associated with higher onset of metabolic disease.

Young adults set their baseline physical activity between ages 18 – 30.

…which determines their health trajectories for the rest of their lives.

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Physical activity lower than the recommended level1 at age 18 was associated with:

+12% risk of diabetes

+3% risk of cholesterol imbalance2

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Note: Fully adjusted model. 1. Lower physical activity by 100 EUs than the recommended guideline of 150mins per week 2. Dyslipidemia

Of course, the pandemic didn’t help. A Statistics Canada study showed that fewer youth aged 12 to 17 met Canadian physical activity recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic.3 The study says school closures, the cancellation of organized sports, social distancing and other pandemic-related measures reduced the opportunities to be physically active. Helping our young people get moving will be important for improving health outcomes in the future.

Inspire younger employees to move

Sponsors play an important role, whether employees are at work or working from home. When you encourage your younger employees to make exercise a part of their day, the better off they’ll be in the long term. And when your employees are healthier, you’re helping protect against future benefits plan costs. It’s a win: win for everyone.

With a little creativity, you can inspire your employees to move their bodies more. The recommended 150 minutes is only 2 ½ hours each week. And the health benefits of exercise add up. That means smaller bouts of exercise over the course of the week can add up to help people reach the recommended amount. And for members of Manulife Vitality Group Benefits, every step they take earns them points!

Here are some ideas to help employees get moving:

  • Create a walking club and walk around the world. Employees record their steps each day. See how long it takes to walk around the world! This is a great way for employees working from home to participate.
  • Try a ‘take the stairs’ challenge. Encourage employees to skip the elevator and take the stairs.
  • Consider a 3-5 minute morning move to music. Get the heart pumping before the day starts.
  • Draw a hopscotch with tape down a common hallway.
  • Encourage employees to walk or bike to work. If they must drive, encourage them to park farther away.
  • Promote Manulife Vitality Group Benefits – it not only encourages movement, but it also offers instant rewards, something younger people appreciate.

Read this article for more great ideas to help your employees move it, move it – whether they’re young, or young at heart.

Learn more about Vitality.

The Vitality Group Inc., in association with The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company, provides the Manulife Vitality Group Benefits program. Vitality is a trademark of Vitality Group International, Inc., and is used by The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company and its affiliates under license. Manulife, Manulife & Stylized M Design, and Stylized M Design are trademarks of The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company, and are used by it, The Vitality Group Inc. and its affiliates under license. PO Box 2580, STN B Montreal QC H3B 5C6. Accessible formats and communication supports are available upon request. Visit Manulife.com/accessibility for more information.

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