Osage Nation Employees Have Fun Getting Healthy

The statistics do not lie. Health issues among Native Americans are a serious problem. The five leading killers among this segment of the population are: cancer, heart disease, unintentional injuries, diabetes, and chronic liver disease and cirrhosis.

Some of the contributing factors to health disparities among Native Americans can be geographic isolation, economic factors and/or limited or no Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities. However, the Osage Nation is addressing these issues.

One way was seen January 26th with the kick-off of three, healthy challenges Osage Nation employees have been invited to participate in.

For a little over 2 years, the Osage Nation has partnered with IncentaHealth, a technology-based wellness program. The convenience of the Internet allows individuals to customize a program specific to them and the barriers they face. Motivation is different for different people, and IncentaHealth addresses this with private, electronic coaching. Recipients receive daily emails:

1. Informative tip of the day

2. Motivational quote

3. Exercise schedule (cardio, strength, rest)

4. Nutritional meal plans (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks)

And while getting healthy or staying healthy is an accomplishment there is an extra and exciting bonus: IncentaHealth awards prizes and cash rewards.

The American Heart Association (AHA) presented to Principal Chief Standing Bear and Assistant Chief Red Corn the Heart Healthy Natives Tribal Leadership Challenge. AHA’s Check. Change. Control.™ program lets individuals “identify, lower and maintain healthy blood pressure levels to strengthen tribal community wellness.” Oklahoma is currently the only state involved with this Native project.

Check. Change. Control. participants create an online account and although the program is monitoring one’s blood pressure, individuals may input other data such as weight, glucose readings, medicines, and more. This data can be printed out for one’s next medical visit. It also gives the opportunity to see areas for potential health concerns and may prompt one to modify his or her behavior. This healthy and personal venture also comes with incentives to keep participants motivated.

Then lastly, the Osage Nation has challenged its employees to participate in the Employee Fitness Challenge 2015, which runs concurrent with IncentaHealth and AHA’s Heart Healthy Natives programs.

Participants sign-up, weigh-in and get screened, and think about the goals he or she wants to achieve. Over the course of the challenge, participants accrue points for prizes from their workouts and inches and pounds lost.

While the statistics may appear depressing, there is no reason they cannot be changed. Improving one’s health and changing behaviors for the good is a win for an individual as well as the employer. For instance, employers have noted lower health care claims, reduced absenteeism, and increased productivity.

Individuals are healthier and happier. And a perfect example of that comes from Osage Nation employee Elaine Hight. She is one of IncentaHealth’s success stories.

Elaine reported that what began a year ago as a goal to lose weight turned out to be a “life changing experience.” It took a positive attitude and motivation from family and friends. Elaine pointed out that her circle of motivators were also following a more “healthy and fit lifestyle and it is so much more fun to be around others working towards the same goal.” What came from this was not only achieving a goal of weight-loss, but “more energy, confidence and strength” and the knowledge as she says, “I don’t have any limits on what I can achieve now.”

Changing one’s habits towards healthier food choices, incorporating exercise, or whatever accomplishment is desired—takes work. Even maintaining healthy behaviors, takes work. If you want to get started on a path toward a healthier lifestyle, check out these programs. Also watch the weekly employee newsletters for flyers on fitness opportunities. Get involved. Have fun!

For more information on the Osage Nation Employee Fitness Challenge 2015, contact:

Osage Nation Public Health, Jami L. Jones at @email.