Sunday, August 26, 2012

Get the Most Out of Every Workout by Focusing on Recovery

Photo: Nils Nilsen
I read, The Natural: Entrepreneur Sami Inkinen, by Courtney Baird last April in Inside Triathlon magazine and just tracked it down to reread. It's about Sami Inkinen's training practices. He's an entrepreneur and a triathlete that went under nine hours in Kona on 12 hours of training per week. Since reading it, I've been thinking about his focus on recovery, take on stress and determination to get the most out of every workout. He's quoted in the article as saying, "if I don’t improve in almost every single workout, it’s not because I haven’t trained, but because I haven’t rested.”

I've tried to apply some of this thinking to my training. Not completely successfully I might add since I'm rehabbing yet another calf strain, but I am focusing more on allowing myself enough time to recover (which takes longer than it did when I was younger) and wasting fewer workouts by just going through the motions. 

I don't have a massive tracking spreadsheet like Inkinen. I'm not ready to be that disciplined about training, but the geek in me sees the appeal. Inkinen's latest blog post is about his tracking madness and philosophy on making data based decisions and can easily be applied in other environments. It's worth reading. 

You know that game "If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?" Well, I'm adding Sami Inkinen to my short list. 
"Inkinen is a man who could easily be described as brilliant (in fact, Trulia employees, Stanford classmates and friends who were interviewed for this story used words such as “freakishly intelligent” when talking about Inkinen). He has co-founded two successful companies, speaks five languages, has advanced degrees from two of the world’s best universities, and he literally taught himself how to swim by watching video and seeking out open-water experts, working his way toward a 1:02:18 swim split at Kona this year."

Friday, August 24, 2012

Working Out and Cashing In

I'm sure you've seen the studies that indicate attractive people earn more money -- 3 to 4 percent more according to this WSJ article. "Attractive" isn't necessarily within our control, so that hardly seems fair. A new study published in the Journal of Labor Research shows that people who exercise regularly earn 6 to 10 percent more than their more sedentary counterparts. Now we're talking! That's more than twice the positive impact with something we do control. 

The more I read, the more I have come to believe that exercise is the magic bullet. It seems to impact health more than weight and a whole host of other variables. None of the studies I've read suggest you have to become an olympic athlete to reap the rewards. Even a moderate increase in activity has a positive impact on health. And, according to this study even moderate exercise has a positive impact on pay. 

We're kicking off a new football themed program at work to encourage people to be more active. We won't be passing out checks at the end of the program, but this study looks pretty legitimate -- just saying. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

There's an App for that! United Healthcare's Health4Me

I was chatting with a staff member earlier today about her recent visit to an urgent care center. She was traveling and struggled a bit to identify a participating provider. She figured it out, but the task would have been easier if she'd have had Health4Me, United Healthcare's mobile app on her phone. With it, she'd have been able to quickly identify the nearest urgent care center and pull up her ID card on her phone when she got there. 

The Health4Me app is available from the Apple iTunes App Store as a free download for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. It is also available as a free download in the Android marketplace for Android phones.

Don't wait until you need it. Download this app today and make sure it's on your family member's phones too. Take a minute to login and look around, so you'll remember you have this powerful resource at your finger tips when you need it most. 

Use UHC's Health4Me app to:

  • Identify urgent care and emergency rooms when and where you need them
  • Display your ID card
  • See benefit amounts
  • View claims
  • Estimate costs for services
  • Search for doctors
  • Search for hospitals and other facilities
  • Contact the NurseLine

A little more on that last bullet. When you're uncertain what to do, I highly recommend making a call to the Nurseline (888-887-4114). A team of experienced registered nurses are available to answer your health questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week at no cost to you. You can contact the Nurseline through the app, but I recommend saving it in your contact list as well for quick access.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

ASHA Named One of Greater Washington's Healthiest Employers

We're honored to be included in Washington Business Journals' list of the areas healthiest employers again this year. The award honors companies whose policies  and initiatives promote the health and well-being of their employees. They used an online assessment tool and measured wellness programming in six key categories to select the winners -- culture and leadership commitment, foundational components, strategic planning, communication and marketing, programming and interventions, and reporting and analysis. 

They'll announce the ranking of each company during an event on Thursday, September 20. Last year we were ranked #4 in the 100-499 category. It looks like they've changed the categories this year and they're recognizing 10 more employers for a total of 50.

I live in Reston, Virginia so I'm especially happy to see Reston Association being recognized again this year. I'm also very pleased to see our friends at the American College of Cardiology made the list. Congratulations to all the other winners! 

2-249 employees
Corporate Network Services Inc.
Gentle Giant Moving Co. Inc.
IntelliDyne LLC
IQ Solutions Inc.
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
Reston Association
Walker & Dunlop Inc.

250-499 employees
Airlines Reporting Corp.
American College of Cardiology
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
GTSI Corp.
JBS International Inc.
The Motley Fool LLC
Systems Planning and Analysis Inc.
Van Metre Cos.
Washington Real Estate Investment Trust
500-999 employees
CapitalSource Inc.
City of Rockville
Crowell & Moring LLP
Duke Realty Corp.
Hitt Contracting Inc.
Radio One Inc.
Ryan LLC
Unity Health Care Inc.
William C. Smith & Co.

1,000-4,999 employees
The Advisory Board Co.
CoStar Group Inc.
Deltek Inc.
Neustar Inc.
Orbital Sciences Corp.
The Liaison Capitol Hill, an Affinia hotel
Suburban Hospital, a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine
USI Insurance Services LLC
Virginia Hospital Center

5,000+ employees
Accenture PLC
AOL Inc.
Capital One Financial Corp.
CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center
Inova Health System
Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States
Quest Diagnostics Nichols Institute
Sapient Government Services
SRA International Inc.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Would Naked Fridays Complement our Wellness Program?

Naked Friday at Onebestway
Image: Tengri News via 
According to this article a colleague just shared with me -- World's Weirdest Offices -- Onebestway improved teamwork by having everyone work naked on Fridays. I cringed, laughed, started to forward it on to a friend with a snarky comment and then paused. Would knowing your coworkers will see you naked serve as an incentive for us all to take better care of ourselves and complement our wellness program? It would certainly keep me out of the office candy jar. 

Ok, I'm not really serious about working naked, but how about mandatory beach volleyball?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

There's an App for That! Business Productivity Apps for your iPad.

Reggie Henry, ASAE's Chief Information Officer, recently helped ASHA staff take our iPad usage to the next level. He said he uses an iPad for 95% of his work and introduced us to a variety of applications he relies on to get his job done. The perspective Reggie shared -- "I want people to work how they are most productive." 

Here are my notes (taken on Corkulous.)

The app I rely on most at work is still Note Taker HD. I also use Evernote on an almost daily basis. Of course, you need enough juice to do all this work on the move. I like my new Belkin surge protector. It spins around so you can charge multiple devices no matter what angle you find an outlet. And, when there isn't an outlet around, I rely on my iGo Green for a quick power boost. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bouncing While You Work -- Swapping Your Desk Chair for a Stability Ball

Emerald Ong, ASHA graphic designer
extraordinaire and owner of Ongward
Phote: Ben Sledge
I recently swapped my fancy ergonomic desk chair for a stability ball. Last December, I had surgery on my hip to repair a torn labrum I got falling off my bike. By June, I was back to running a few miles and finished a sprint distance triathlon, but it still didn't feel great. Then, I started sitting on the stability ball and now I actually feel better at the end of the workday than the beginning. And, the ball totally suits my fidgety disposition. 

Some say sitting on a stability ball is better for your posture, some say it's good for low back pain, others say it burns additional calories and strengthens your core. The studies I read really aren't that compelling. The extra calorie burn -- a whopping 30 calories per day. That doesn't count the calories you burn bouncing and getting up to get things you can't roll to like you can in a chair though. The ergonomic specialist we work with does not recommend sitting on stability ball because you can loose your balance while turning and reaching. (I'm more worried about falling off my bike again than my ball.)

I'm 5'4" and chose a 65 cm ball. I don't fully inflate it so my feet hit the floor. It's the perfect height for my desk. I recommend the Thera-Band Pro Series SCP Stability Balls balls from Perform Better. At $38.95 it's a great deal. Especially when you compare it to the versions mentioned in this New York Times article -- $225 for a ball? 

If you work at ASHA, feel free to borrow a ball from the exercise room to see how you like it before ordering one. Just pick it up after 8:30 and return it by 4:00, so it's available for our fitness classes. 

Many thanks to Emerald for letting me use her picture.