Taxing commutes, long days slouched over a keyboard, and lunch breaks barely long enough to shove a sandwich down—let’s face it: Even the most dedicated among us find it hard to stay healthy in the office.
And for those of us who travel for work, there’s a host of other challenges, from finding something healthy to eat during a 30-minute layover to dragging your jet-lagged body out of bed at 6 AM to hit the hotel gym.
Stephen Wood, Hub Head of Procurement at GlaxoSmithKline, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, knows the struggle well. He’s on the road much of the year, traveling around Sub-Saharan Africa to work with his various teams at GSK offices in Kenya, Nigeria, and the Ivory Coast.
Despite his best efforts, Stephen didn’t feel like he was keeping up with his health goals. “You don’t realize how inactive you become in your day-to-day- activities,” he says.
And with a family history of health problems, Stephen was worried about falling into the same situation as his elder family members. “My parents and grandparents had high blood pressure and type II diabetes. I have to be more proactive so I don’t end up in a similar situation.”
Making a Change
When Stephen’s company, GSK, launched its comprehensive health-care program, The Partnership for Prevention, or P4P, in South Africa, Stephen immediately signed himself and his family up. The program provides people who work for GSK, and their dependents, 40 different healthcare services, including preventative cancer screenings, vaccines, check-ups, cholesterol screenings, and wellness challenges.
The program inspired Stephen, and after receiving the results from his preventative screenings, he used the information to spark a lifestyle change to better himself.
“I went out and bought a mountain bike and took up cycling,” he says. “I’ve met a number of new people with similar views on health and fitness. We ride every weekend.”
Both Stephen and his wife have committed to being more active, and are using the information provided at each screening to continue to evaluate their fitness goals.
Through P4P, Stephen also has access to a host of other programs that encourage employees to stay healthy and fit, like weekly fitness classes and employee wellness challenges. Recently, the program hosted a fun FitBit challenge, where staffers across Sub-Saharan Africa competed for overall monthly steps, something Stephen could participate in during his travels around the continent.