Santa Cruz Tech Beat

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Wellness app prepares for takeoff

By Elizabeth Borelli
Founder, Well Beyond

April 2, 2015 — Santa Cruz, CA

Workplace wellness app launches local beta release — Santa Cruz community invited to participate

Well Beyond is a new, team-based workplace wellness program that combines online education with a WellBeyond2customizable game app designed to boost health and productivity in the workplace and beyond. Developed by Santa Cruz veteran design firm Launch Brigade, the flagship Well Beyond program, “Recharge Challenge” will launch a beta version at NextSpace Santa Cruz on Thursday, April 9, 2015. Participants will team up and compete to accumulate points each time they complete one of the behaviors designed to move them toward personalized health goals. Members of the Santa Cruz community are invited to attend the launch meeting on April 9 at 12 pm and participate in the 4-week challenge free of charge.

Dramatic increase in chronic disease rates predicted

Through my work as a wellness advocate and speaker in my hometown of Santa Cruz, I’m acutely aware that the health of Americans has continued to decline while U.S. medical spending almost doubled in the last decade. Increased costs effect employee and employer alike. Researchers predict a 42% increase in chronic disease rates in the coming decade, adding $4.2 trillion in treatment costs and lost economic output.

Much of this cost is preventable because many chronic conditions are linked to unhealthy lifestyles. For example, obesity accounts for an estimated 12% of the health spending growth in recent years and according to a 2010 government report, diabetes levels have risen to 23.6 million, effecting 1 in 10 Americans. This figure is projected to triple to 1 in 3 over the next 40 years.

Demand for workplace wellness programs on the rise

The trend toward workplace wellness continues to grow. Every year, unhealthy people cost employers over $153 billion in lost workdays and low performance, according to Gallup Research.Wellness programs have been widely adopted by U.S. corporations; surveys show that at least 50% of small and medium-sized business employers offer a health and wellness program, while among large employers, the numbers range from 60-80%. The efficacy of these programs as a whole remains inconclusive.

Figuring out what makes behavior change stick

It took months of research into what makes behavior change stick to develop the Well Beyond philosophy. For WellBeyond3over a year before I launched Well Beyond, I spoke at companies and organizations about the benefits of a healthier diet. I showed them what was in the “healthy” food they were eating: extra calories, additives and enough toxins to make every audience member cringe and swear off of Subway. But even the best of intentions don’t change habits. Education alone won’t create long-term change. It took months of research into what makes behavior change stick to develop the Well Beyond philosophy. By applying the knowledge I’ve gained about education, engagement and motivation, I’ve been able to create unique wellness programs that truly change lives, long-term. And as everyone knows, healthy employees are happier, more productive, and reduce insurance premiums. Well Beyond can help to reverse the negative health trend in the U.S., and lead to all of the incredible benefits a healthy mind and body will bring!

Well Beyond is a customizable, interactive solution that is engaging and fun

Most non-communicable disease is preventable through healthy eating habits and regular exercise. The Well Beyond program teaches people how to build healthy eating, exercise and stress reduction habits into their daily routine using a combination of connectivity, incremental change, teamwork and rewards. A series of research-based activities are offered, each one assigned a point value based on the effort required to complete. Participants are able to customize their daily activities to meet their individual needs, as opposed to the standard one-size fits all approach to wellness.

Employers benefit from the Well Beyond program through reduced employee health-related expenses, increased productivity, engagement and job satisfaction. Catering to small and medium-sized businesses, program rollout and implementation are turn-key enough to require minimal internal management in order to realize great results.

A successful migration toward healthier habits requires an integrative approach addressing the big picture, instead of focusing on a single component of personal wellness, like calorie counting, fitness or stress reduction.

Local subject matter experts featured

The Well Beyond Challenge is based on a series of webinars featuring local experts educating participants on a variety of wellness practices in nutrition, environmental psychology, mindfulness and movement. Participants can access each of the five online educational modules plus additional resources to augment their learning experience to support losing weight, lowering blood pressure and reducing stress throughout the program. Post-program learning can continue using recommended apps and resources provided by Well Beyond. Well Beyond participants use the information, technology and resources provided to make long-term behavior changes that make them healthier, happier and more productive, and it shows in the bottom line.

For more information, visit Well Beyond or contact Elizabeth@WellBeyond.net.

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