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News are filled with headings about billions going to health costs – what about solutions with impact?

Too little daily activity, too much sitting and a bad physical condition cause expensive costs to Finnish citizens, says the recent research of UKK Institute, a private research and expert organization in Finland. Once again new evidence of huge costs, but does anything change? Should we focus more on root reasons instead of consequences?

Often it seems that the attention is usually raised by numbers related to costs. The UKK Institute research estimates that the annual costs of unactivity are from 3,2 to 7,5 billion euros, depending on the way of counting. This creates further questions. Billions always get room in the news headings. Is this really the only way to get decision makers’ attention?

What then?

Once again it’s now proven that yes, the lack of daily activity becomes expensive. But then what? Sometimes it’s frustrating to see constant discussion of the egg when we should focus on chicken, on causes and solutions instead of problems. You can see some sarcasm here. However, it’s positive that these news keep on popping up but then they seem to be forgotten as soon as the following day starts.

We are also a bit worried about the lack of holistic understanding of health. If we constantly take just a certain area like activity or nutrition into focus, we tend to miss the holistic view. If we think about all the reasons related to life and time management or physical and mental aspects in the background of the lack of activity, this is crucial. Usually it’s not about the lack of information.

From egg to the chicken – fuel for changing life habits and routines

To avoid repeating problems, let’s now focus on concrete solutions to cut down the billion scale costs. Is there some kind of a recipe visible for the cause and consequence combination?

Based on research we know well that half of health is defined by our individual life habits and choices, where exercise and daily activity is only one aspect of many. Therefore influencing on life habits is the most direct way to better holistic health.

Different research results have also proven that even half of our habits are routines, which we repeat and repeat from day to another. So basically, changing life habits is mostly about changing routines. This gives a huge emphasis on small individual daily selections and changes. And we mean really small changes, based on behavioral research.

Every change requires fuel which in this case means motivation. It’s a feeling that says the change in hand serves the meaningful things from the individual’s aspect. Because we all have different values, wishes, needs and goals not to mention the very different life situations, we always end up on individual level as we search for solutions.

We have practical experience of this as we promote the employee health and wellbeing in our customer companies. In our individual value and solution based coachings we have managed to proof the impact and results on individual level.

We have believed in the impact of our model of instant support, but the results and the way the change is sustained has been even a more positive surprise. We measure the impact of coaching with a vast survey both in shorter and longer term. When the change happens inside one’s thought models and own life, the better life habits and experienced health have continued improving immediately during coaching and also in the longer run. Our results tell about a genuine and sustained change, not a temporary project type of a trial which is often defined by an outsider and often left without any sustained results.

Now we are in the very core of the whole thing. The motives of an individual are not always the same as the motives of society. Who ever is the payer – society or employers – to get results we need to focus on incentives and choices on an individual level. This creates billions euros of savings and in the end also concrete news of positive impact.