Let me throw a quick question your way. Would you believe that WE are the biggest obstacle to a successful wellness plan, not the pending Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulations? Don’t shake your head too quickly.

Here’s why I bring this up. There’s a lot of talk going on around a specific court case between the AARP and EEOC. The court in the AARP vs. EEOC case challenged the EEOC on how it considers a 30 percent cost differential to be truly “voluntary.” Note: If you’re interested in reading all the details of the case, you can click here. Anyway, the court’s most recent order requires the EEOC to issue new proposed rules by August 31, 2018. Many employers are anxiously awaiting the new proposed rules to determine if they’ll have any impact on current wellness programs.

While concerns over the pending EEOC rules are well founded, recent studies point to a more significant challenge to wellness. A survey was presented at an American Heart Association meeting earlier this year showing that individuals would rather take a pill or drink tea than exercise to extend their life if they were diagnosed with high blood pressure. Take a look at these stats:

To extend life a month, the percentages drop to 79 percent, 78 percent, and 63 percent, respectively.

Why does this matter? A study of nurses that began back in 1976 showed there are FIVE healthy habits associated with a longer life. Women who followed these five “healthy lifestyle factors” lived 14 years longer, and men lived 12 years longer. The five habits are:

  1. Maintain a healthy weight.
  2. Exercise at least 30 minutes each day.
  3. Don’t smoke.
  4. Eat a healthful diet.
  5. Moderate drinking (don’t abstain and don’t drink too much).

Following one or more of these lifestyle factors led to a longer life, as well as lower levels of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The researchers wrote: “Prevention should be a top priority for national health policy, and preventive care should be an indispensable part of the healthcare system.”

After all that, here’s where I’m really going with this blog. We often think the answer to healthier lives and lower healthcare costs must be almost impossible to find. In reality, the solution isn’t complicated…the execution is just challenging. It starts with you.