News & Commentary

Wellness Benefits Not in the Mind

Wellness is as wellness does, to coin a phrase that probably can’t stand on its own but means in this instance that workers get out of a program what they put into it.

So much for the obvious. What’s new in a study in the American Journal of Health Promotion is that the positive effects of wellness programs on mental health are negligible at best.

That study, “Is Usage of a Wellness Center Associated With Improved Quality of Life?”, says that “a wellness center can improve physical health and has limited or no effect on maintaining mental health.”

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic measured quality of life (QOL) for about 1,100 members of a wellness center from September 2008 through December 2009.

Even for those who used the centers the most and got the most physical benefit as a result, the mental health benefits were practically non-existent, and they actually declined for those who used the centers the least, from 51.4% to 34.5%.

The authors have some suggestions.

“The benefits of physical activity are well established, but perhaps to fully affect mental QOL, wellness centers need to offer a wide range of strategies for spirituality, stress reduction, sleep, social support, relationships, career advancement, and financial planning.”


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