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Employee Well-Being

An Airline’s Focus on Heart Health is Causing Employee Wellness to Soar

Photo: Courtesy of Florian van Duyn

Working in the airline industry can be fast-paced. At its core, the business is about getting people where they need to be, safely, on time, and with care and assistance for both customers and employees. 

Just as airline employees prioritize customer care and safety, it is equally important to prioritize airline employees’ well-being and health.

With that understanding, there is an obligation to help get airline employees to optimal health by building a workplace environment where being healthy is made easier — where the healthy choice is the easy choice or, maybe, the only choice. For any company, this is a goal best achieved one day or one step at a time, as a team.

Heart-healthy initiatives

United Airlines is laser-focused on employee health and well-being. In recent years, United launched multiple health initiatives, including providing blood pressure monitors at a Houston reservations location, creating and distributing heart-healthy messaging through internal communications channels, and hosting heart-healthy webinars in partnership with the American Heart Association. Last year, United Airlines expanded its efforts by providing guidance on healthy behaviors.

United Airlines is one of many organizations that the American Heart Association is working with to build a culture of health throughout the nation’s workplaces. After all, 99 percent of the U.S. adult population has room to improve on at least one of the heart health factors — known as “Life’s Simple 7®” — including physical activity and healthy weight. And yet for many people, it can be difficult to get physically active at work, and easy to feel stressed or find unhealthy snack foods. A movement break might help reduce stress and distract from the desire to snack.

Building a culture of health throughout America’s workplaces is an ambitious movement. United Airlines is a part of that movement to ultimately improve the heart health and the overall health and well-being of all Americans.

Partners in wellness

United Airlines is continuing to work on science-based strategies to create a heart-healthy workplace and they tell us the company’s ongoing relationship with the American Heart Association is vital to this process. The Association’s efforts to improve health in the workplace take many forms, including programs and tools to help all workplaces make it easier for employees to make healthier choices.

One tool to help assess an individual’s health status via “Life Simple 7” is My Life Check. With My Life Check, a person can answer a few questions and determine their heart health status and areas where, with some effort, heart health can improve. The seven areas covered in the assessment are smoking, diet, physical activity, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. 

We believe heart health improves employee well-being and company productivity, and we encourage corporate leaders to reimagine and refocus their positions on health. Imagine the positive changes we can collectively make on heart health if we can make changes in the environments where people spend most of their waking hours.

For more information on the American Heart Association’s Workplace Health programs, visit heart.org/workplacehealth.

Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H., chief medical officer for prevention, American Heart Association, [email protected]

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