Life’s Essential 8 + 1

In 2022 the American Heart Association (AHA) updated their list of the most important predictors of heart health. The predictors are also believed to reduce inflammation which is the suspected common thread in heart disease and other chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and possibly even Alzheimer’s disease. The AHA Life’s Essential 8 are not new but always important to remember and reflect on.

We added a +1 to the Life’s Essential 8 as well as a view from the individual and organizational level. Our research and the research of others clearly indicate that the dimensions of well-being are influenced by social determinates of health – including the workplace environment and culture – as much as or possibly more than by individual changes. 

For example, focusing only on individual tips to manage stress yet not considering and addressing contributing workplace factors cannot ever be effective, successful, or sustainable. There is an inextricable connection between individual and organizational well-being. For this reason, the Dimensions’ Well-Being Model (above) encompasses both individual and organizational dimensions.

  Individual Level ConsiderationsOrganization Level Considerations
Eat Better: Aim for a healthy eating
(Based on Mediterranean diet and
DASH – Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Neither are “diets”, but healthy eating plans.)
– Provide current nutritional information and classes on preparing healthy meals 
– Ensure healthy options are available
– Subsidize healthier food selections
– Assess food served at company functions
Get Regular Activity (150 minutes moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity)– Promote sustainable activities for all
– Consider areas for safe exercise
-Consider organizational factors limiting activity
Don’t Smoke or Vape (Avoid secondhand smoke)– Assess your smoking policies
– Promote quitting and subsidize OTC and prescriptions to help employees quit
Get Enough Sleep (7 – 8 hours)– Educate employees on sleep hygiene
– Assess shift work schedules and provide education on healthy considerations for shift work
Maintain a Healthy Weight– Consider organizational factors impacting weight
STOP promoting weight loss and offering weight loss initiatives. Instead consider sustainable and nourishing options that end yo-yo dieting and stress
Know Your Numbers and Make Healthy Changes:
–       Cholesterol
–       Blood Sugar
–       Blood Pressure
– Offer screenings and coaching
– Provide information
– Consider contributing organizational factors
– Evaluate your benefits and flexibility to maintain health
+1 Manage Stress– Evaluate organizational factors contributing to stress, including the culture
– Assess the social and psychological climate of the work environment
– Promote leadership qualities of listening, respect, and positive communication.
– Provide management development on ‘soft skills’

For organizations, the first step before promoting Life’s Essential 8 +1 or implementing a wellness program, are to consider and address organizational factors that contribute to employee well-being. We believe that doing so is essential. There IS an inextricable connection between individual and organizational well-being.

Please contact us for more information and guidance on Life’s Essential 8 +1 or to discuss the sustainable options for your organization. We are happy to send you our white paper and a PDF on the AHA’s Life’s Essential 8.

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