Program has major impact on participants' stress, fatigue, depression and quality of sleep
MONTREAL, Nov. 24, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - Recent reports on the mental health challenges facing the Canadian military underscore the need for safe, scalable, and scientifically proven programs to improve the psychological resiliency of our troops. A web-based health and wellness program recently tested by the Canadian Navy may provide one solution. The results of this study are being presented today at the annual Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research Forum in Quebec City.
The My Health Check-Up® Workplace Health and Wellness Program improved the health and wellbeing of Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Halifax personnel. Objective clinical assessment demonstrated improvements in participants' overall health, particularly mental wellbeing at the end of a six-month program.
"My Health Check-Up participants improved their risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes such as weight and blood pressure, but the most impressive results were the significant improvements observed in mental health measures such as stress, fatigue, depression and sleep quality," says Dr. Steven Grover, CEO of My Health Check-Up and a McGill University Professor of Medicine.
My Health Check-Up's team of health professionals worked with the Base Commander of CFB Halifax to customize a program geared to the base's unique workplace and workforce. Approximately 26 percent of eligible military personnel from three bases in the Halifax area voluntarily signed-up for the program.
At the outset their health status was assessed using the Cardiovascular Disease Life Expectancy Model, published by the My Health Check-Up research group, and currently recommended by Canadian treatment guidelines for the treatment of cholesterol and hypertension. This validated and published statistical model estimates an individual's "Cardiovascular Age" and the benefits associated with healthy lifestyle choices such as: exercise, healthy eating, smoking cessation and weight management. Participants also completed mental health assessments to measure stress, fatigue, mood, and sleep quality.
Setting sail on the Barrett's Privateers Challenge!
A variety of web-based physical fitness and healthy weight activities were created, including a 10-week team fitness challenge based on Stan Roger's folk song "Barrett's Privateers". Using a pedometer or other tracking device, teams of 15 measured their daily exercise routines and tracked their activity on the My Health Check-Up website (myhealthcheckup.com).
"To keep it fun and to harness the competitive nature of our armed forces, each team was assigned to a virtual privateers ship; the more they exercised, the faster their ship sailed from Halifax to Montego Bay, Jamaica. A website map was used to track their progress as competing crews challenged each other online," says Samuel Grover, a physiologist with My Health Check-Up and the program's director. "Throughout the competition we emailed exercise tips and advice to keep participants motivated. We also threw in a few "roadblocks" (hurricane, scurvy outbreak, Halifax Harbor blockade) designed to give them a little extra push."
Results speak for themselves
The health improvements, due solely to healthy lifestyle changes, were clinically impressive.
"Like most Canadians, some members of our naval forces struggle to get enough exercise and eat well," said Dr. Grover. "But these results clearly demonstrate that our evidence-based health and wellness program has the ability to help people take charge of their health and reduce their risk of disease while improving their quality of life. Similar results have now been observed in Canadian corporations which translate into more engaged employees, increased productivity and lower health care costs due to the prevention of heart disease, diabetes, and mental health problems."
The My Health Check-Up Workplace Health and Wellness program was tested at CFB Halifax thanks to a federal grant from the Build In Canada Innovation Program.
My Health Check-Up®, a Montreal based company, is a national provider of scientifically proven workplace health and wellness programs designed to improve employee well-being while enhancing employee engagement and decreasing absenteeism.
SOURCE My Health Check-Up
For further information: Lisa Dutton, Shout! Communications, 514-264-6514