Your Monthly Check-Up: Did you do the Ice Bucket Challenge?

By now everyone has seen at least one person on Facebook or other social media sites dumping a bucket of ice cold water on his or her head. Perhaps you’ve done it yourself (several Hinda staffers have!). The Ice Bucket Challenge is soaking the nation all in the name of raising awareness about ALS.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease after the famous New York Yankee first baseman who died of complications from ALS in 1941. While the origins of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge are unclear, the goal of raising awareness – and donations – aligns with other cold water challenges and polar plunges made popular by various charitable organizations.

According to the ALS Association, ALS is

a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed. (

While this disease isn’t completely understood, one thing is for sure – the Ice Bucket Challenge is working. According to Wikipedia,

After the Ice Bucket Challenge went viral on social media, public awareness and charitable donations to ALS charities soared. The New York Times reported that the ALS Association had received $41.8 million in donations from July 29 until August 21. More than 739,000 new donors have given money to the association, which is more than double the $19.4 million in total contributions the association received during the year that ended January 31, 2013. Similarly, the ALS Therapy Development Institute reported a ten-fold increase in donations relative to the same period in 2014, with over 2,000 donations made in a single day on August 20, 2014, while Project ALS reported a 50-fold increase.

The ALS Association, which raised $64 million in all of 2013, raised more than $10 million on Thursday, August 21, 2014, alone

ALS mainly affects people between the ages of 40 and 70, however there are cases of people in their 20s and 30s who have been diagnosed. The ALS Association says that, according to the ALS CARE Database, 60 percent of people with ALS are men and 93 percent of patients are Caucasian (figures taken from ALS patients represented in the Database). It is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time. More work is being done to determine possible risk factors, but one known risk is that military veterans, particularly vets of the Gulf War, are twice as likely to develop ALS.

While symptoms at the onset of ALS are easily overlooked, some signs during the disease’s progression include:

  • muscle weakness in the hands, arms, legs and/or the muscles of speech, swallowing or breathing
  • twitching (fasciculation) and cramping of muscles, especially in the hands and feet
  • impairment in the use of the arms and legs
  • "thick speech" and difficulty projecting the voice
  • shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing and swallowing (in more advanced stages)

The symptoms of ALS and rate at which it progresses can vary widely from person to person, and not all sufferers experience the same symptoms. However, progressive muscle weakness and paralysis are present in all cases. Although the mean prognosis is three to five years, many people live five or ten years or more. One example of this is Stephen Hawking, who was diagnosed with a form of ALS when he was 21 and is currently in his early 70s.

Since ALS attacks only motor neurons, the five senses are not affected. For many people, muscles of the eyes and bladder are generally not affected.

To learn more about ALS, visit

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Hindastry News - January 2013

Welcome to the latest issue of "Hindastry News" - Hinda's corporate newsletter.

"Hindastry News" brings you the latest on the happenings at Hinda.

This issue includes:

  • Hinda Hits the Trade Show Scene! 
  • Dave Peer talks about the IMA with Premium Incentive Products magazine
  • Incentives to Encourage Employee Wellness
  • Introducing our Newest Hinda Hires 

If you know someone who would benefit from receiving communications like this from Hinda, have them e-mail Alisa Schafer ( and ask to be added to the distribution list.

Also be sure to check out and subscribe to the Hinda Blog. 

Click here for the current issue of Hindastry News.

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Your Monthly Check-Up: New Year, New You!


The holidays are a time for indulgence, but once they’re over many people resolve to cut back on sweets and fatty foods, reach for the fruits and veggies and spend more time at the gym. With the New Year upon us, it’s the perfect time to take a look at what your workplace provides by way of health and wellness initiatives.

“Employers are realizing that wellness initiatives represent a solid business strategy with myriad benefits,” says Tom Mason, President of the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota, in the Small Business Trends article “Employers Say Wellness Programs Work” by Rieva Lesonsky.

The article points to a study conducted by the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota called “The State of Workplace Wellness in America.” According to the study:

Business leaders nationwide and in six states were polled to find out what they thought of workplace wellness programs and what challenges they faced in implementing them. Three-fourths of respondents said community-based networks of business leaders would be useful resources to learn about workplace wellness initiatives and share information and ideas. 

The article cites that some of the benefits of these programs include lower healthcare costs and reduced workers’ comp claims, boosts in productivity, lower absenteeism rates and the overall enjoyment employees experience from living healthier lives. More than half of employers in the survey already had workplace wellness programs in place, and the majority (92 percent) stated that improving employee health was their most important goal, followed by reducing healthcare costs, according to Lesonsky’s article.  

If your company has yet to establish a wellness program for its employees, now is the time to do so, and Lesonsky outlines some steps in her article that you can take to make implementation a little easier:

1. Lead the Way – Model positive habits yourself instead of taking the “Do as I say, not as I do” approach.

2. Designate a Leader – Put someone in charge of the wellness plan and give them a budget and time frame to  work with.

3. Make it Relevant – Ensure your new initiative is tailored to your company’s culture and your employees’ needs.

4. Involve your Insurance Company – Check and see if your carrier offers corporate wellness plans or reduced rates on classes or gym memberships – or have someone come out and talk to your staff about healthy lifestyle options.

The ways in which you can create a healthier environment at your company are nearly endless, and all it takes is a few steps to get your employees engaged in their own wellness and moving toward a lifetime of health and happiness. Why not make your workplace wellness initiation your new year’s resolution?

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Your Monthly Check-Up: Incentivizing your Employees’ Healthy Lifestyles

A hot topic this year within both the incentive realm and the wellness realm has been the rise of obesity in America and the growing importance for health initiatives in the workplace. Incentive Magazine covers this topic in its November/December issue in an article titled “To Your Health” by senior editor Andrea Doyle. The main crux of the article focuses on wellness initiatives being not only good for your employees, but good for your bottom line by lowering insurance premiums.

Doyle’s article starts out by saying that, while most Americans are well aware of what it takes to be healthy, many are not willing to put forth the effort toward maintaining their health. She cites a study called “F is in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012,” which states, “By 2030, medical costs associated with treating preventable obesity-related diseases are estimated to increase by $48 billion to $66 billion in the US, and the loss in economic productivity could be between $390 billion and $580 billion annually by 2030.” This also translates to exorbitant medical costs spent on treating issues that are entirely preventable.

To combat this – and in direct response to employees spending more and more time in the office and generally sedentary – companies are offering wellness incentives to help raise awareness and offer motivation for choosing habits that have huge payoffs but are often very challenging to stick with, especially during holiday season and other times of year.

One such company noted in the article is Hallmark Business Connections, which offers 13 weeks of weight loss classes to employees. If an employee attends 12 of the 13 classes, the company pays for the program, according to Jennifer Patel, who leads Hallmark’s health and wellness team.

“A colleague lost almost 50 pounds as a result of participating in this program, and it has changed her life,” Patel says. “It’s also proof that if you provide opportunities and incentives for your employees to make behavior changes, amazing things can happen.”

Doyle points to another company in her article, FC USA, which has its own full-time wellness guru in Susan Levy Malandra – whose official title is Healthwise Coordinator for the company. While hiring a full-time health coordinator may be out of reach for many companies, the programs Malandra uses to motivate her colleagues are not.

Malandra, who has 20 years of teaching group fitness classes under her belt, uses pedometers, contests and organized runs to help motivate her FC USA colleagues. She also travels around the country and meets with all US-based employees for “Bio Age” consultations, which tests a variety of physical, nutritional and lifestyle factors to determine the employees overall well-being, or Bio Age.

Malandra notes that follow-up is key to success and she regularly checks in on employees’ progress and writes a monthly newsletter that includes healthy lifestyle tips and recipes. And as an incentive to stay on track or meet goals, FC USA offers trips, merchandise, raffles and cash rewards to its employees for maintaining their healthy lifestyles.

Implementing a wellness initiative at your company isn’t hard, but it does take time, creativity and the interest of your employees. The first steps are always the hardest, but if you can find ways to motivate your employees and incentivize their progress and goals, you’ll be that much closer to increased productivity and decreased medical costs. Plus, you’ll be setting up your employees for a lifetime of wellness, and there is truly nothing more important than your health!

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Your Monthly Check-Up: Winning at Workplace Wellness


In the last month alone, several great articles have come to our attention focused on just how important wellness in the workplace is. Clearly this is not just a passing fad, but an issue of growing concern that is calling for immediate attention and action. Employees and companies as a whole are responding very positively to wellness incentives and fitness programs. Hopefully some of these stories will inspire you to instill a wellness initiative at your company – or at least change a few habits to benefit your own life.

To begin, an article in EXPERIENCE LIFE magazine (a publication of LIFE TIME FITNESS) titled “Healthy Profit” makes the case for employee wellness as a means for increasing productivity and reaping fiscal benefits. The article centers on three US companies – SAS, Patagonia and Hypertherm – that are putting the well-being of their employees first and rewarded handsomely in the form of low employee turnover and decreased medical plan costs.

The article points to a study published in the February 2012 issue of Health Affairs that found that “for every dollar invested in a comprehensive workplace wellness program, companies saved $3.27 in medical costs and $2.73 in costs related to absenteeism.” According to “Healthy Profits,”

…the days of simply tacking up a smoking-cessation poster and calling it a wellness program are quickly coming to an end. In a world of ballooning healthcare costs and exhausted employees, more businesses are adopting comprehensive workplace wellness programs that pay closer attention not just to the physical health of their workforces, but also to their employees’ overall sense of well-being.

A few examples of the initiatives these companies have adopted include onsite daycare, onsite health centers, subsidized healthy lunch programs, paid leave for parents of sick children, free yoga, paid time off to volunteer, wellness fairs and fitness club membership reimbursement. We’ll note that these companies are exceptional examples and not every organization is able to adopt all of these initiatives; however, making small changes now will go a long way with regard to your employees’ well-being.

The September/October issue of Premium Incentive Products also features a case study focused on employee wellness, titled “Working Toward Wellness at Hilton Head Health.” According to the article, Hilton Head Health, or H3, is a premiere health and wellness center in Hilton Head, SC.

When H3 implemented a physical fitness support system, “The benefits were immediate,” says president and CEO Robert Moore. “The first year was a 3 percent reduction in premiums, and the second year a 7 percent reduction at a time when premiums were increasing 12 to 15 percent.

In order to be effective, of course, a program such as this has to be widely accepted by the staff, and H3 is a great example of a program not only being widely accepted but successfully implemented and expanding, as well. “While H3 employees might know more about fitness and be healthier than the average worker, it also proved to be a challenge to increase the level of H3’s employees’ fitness. Enter the idea of incentives, challenges, classes and a little friendly competition to get the ball rolling.”

At H3, each activity is based on a point system.  A highly visible leader board is updated with top performers’ names and points awarded and employees are encouraged to compete not only with each other, but with themselves. Completing fitness classes, competing in races and taking healthy cooking classes are all eligible for points. Other types of activities include book club, volunteering, webinars, biking, swimming and walking. This shows that not only is H3 concerned with wellness, but the overall well-being of its employees.

As quoted in the article, CEO Moore says, “I’m a believer in incentives. You have to get people to try living healthier lives, then they develop the habit and they won’t want to give it up. There is no better way to do that with incentives.”

As a recognition company with our own wellness initiative, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. And especially with the holiday season quickly approaching, what better way to fend off cold and flu season than by adopting some of these wellness principles now!

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