Where Traditional Wellness Initiatives Fail

You can’t undo a Big Mac with a salad.

You can’t undo five sleepless nights with a weekend in bed.

And, according to the American Heart Association, you can’t undo sitting at a desk for eight hours with vigorous exercise.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with exercise. But as the American Heart Association points out in a recent review, “Regardless of how much physical activity someone gets, prolonged sedentary time could negatively impact the health of your heart and blood vessels.”

Understanding the significance of increased movement – in the form of walking – is critical to making substantive changes in people’s lives.

According to the AHA’s findings: “Interventions focusing solely on reducing sedentary behavior appear to be more effective at reducing sedentary behavior than those that include strategies for both increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviors.”

The American Heart Association’s conclusion: “Absence of sufficient data to recommend qualitative guidelines, it is appropriate to promote the advisory, ‘Sit less, move more.’”

In an article in The Atlantic summarizing the AHA’s report, James Hamblin writes, “And by ‘move,’ they mean almost anything that is not sitting or reclining – anything that increases your metabolism to 1.5 times that of being absolutely still. Which is a very low bar. ‘Leisurely walking’ is close to 2.5, while gardening… is closer to four.”

Sit less, move more. It’s a prescription that’s easy for anyone to grasp, and it’s far more likely to resonate among those who lead sedentary lifestyles (a.k.a. the 20-percent accounting for 80-percent of healthcare costs).

Sadly, this strikes at the very heart of why traditional health and wellness initiatives miss the mark. Health club memberships, fitness trackers and 30-day challenges are all very nice – but they don’t connect with the most at-risk members. They do nothing to make something as basic as “increased movement” a healthy habit for those who are sedentary.

Sit less, move more. Any organization looking to make a life-changing impact on the health and wellness of others needs to consider using a program that embraces this very fundamental concept.