It’s no secret that living a sedentary lifestyle can be detrimental to one’s health. But did you know that physical inactivity is one of the deadliest conditions not only in the United States but throughout the world? In fact, studies show that being sedentary increases a person’s death rate by as much as 71 percent.
So, what does that mean for employees who work behind a desk all day, operate heavy machinery for hours at a time, or drive all day for work? Since it’s harder for those employees to prioritize physical activity during the workday, it’s critical to encourage them to incorporate some form of physical activity outside of the job.
An excellent way to do this is by promoting regular physical therapy visits. Not only will this boost employee health and morale, but it also can help reduce the aches and pains that come with the job.
In this article, we’ll cover everything from what physical therapy consists of to its many benefits for employees — and employers — in the workplace.
What is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy is the treatment or prevention of diseases and injuries, consisting of everything from exercise to rehabilitation to pain management.
A good physical therapist will work with you to assess your current physical activity, as well as help you set goals to work toward. During a physical therapy session, after performing various tests, the physical therapist will determine which exercises are appropriate for the patient.
They may focus on things like exercise and heat therapy as an alternative to surgery in injured people. When it comes to people who are seeking injury prevention, the physical therapist may suggest going for a massage, daily stretching, and incorporating various activities to improve their physical fitness.
Benefits of Regular Physical Therapy Visits
1. Improvement in Physical Well-Being
Whether an employee spends the majority of the day sitting on a computer for work or spends long hours standing on their feet for work, they’re likely no stranger to aches and pains in the workplace. Even a minor neck ache or a sore lower back can greatly affect performance on the job. No matter how big or how small the issue, every employee can benefit from regular physical therapy visits.
So, what about healthy individuals? If an employee isn’t suffering from any noticeable aches and pains, physical therapy is still an excellent way to prevent future issues. Just as you would see your doctor for regular checkups, you should also see your physical therapist to prevent chronic disease and injury.
Preventative physical therapy can help reduce the risk of obesity, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and help with injury prevention in older individuals. This can lead to a longer, happier life for employees regardless of their age.
2. Better Mental Health
It’s common knowledge that exercise improves mental health, but did you know that physical therapy can also have similar effects?
As physical therapists, our goal is to help our clients improve the brain’s natural chemistry through physical activity. Whether you’re healthy or have been living with daily aches and pains, there is always a way to feel even better both physically and mentally.
Some people suffer from chronic pain for so long that they forget what it’s like to feel good. This usually leads to them feeling down, unmotivated, and takes a toll on that person’s mental health.
The most common problems we see are individuals suffering from anxiety and depression because their quality of life has gone downhill. Unless you’ve experienced it firsthand, it’s hard to know how much this can affect an individual’s ability to function well in the workplace.
The good news is, a licensed physical therapist can help your employees manage and overcome chronic pain, as well as heal from any existing workplace injuries.
Many employees who decide to take advantage of regular therapy visits soon start to notice a positive shift in their mental wellbeing. The endorphins released during exercise are what we call the “feel-good” chemicals, while serotonin enhances mood, and dopamine boosts motivation. For some people, this can be life-changing for their mental health.
3. Less Sick Days Used
It’s safe to say that when employees are feeling good physically and living without those everyday aches and pains, they’re much less likely to call in sick to work. It also goes without saying that an improvement in physical well-being greatly strengthens the immune system and reduces the chances of getting sick.
It’s also important to keep in mind that, when someone calls in sick, the time off is not always used to recover from the flu or a cold. Sometimes sick days are needed for mental health days as well, regardless of whether the employee is forthcoming about that or not. Fortunately, by focusing on improving overall well-being, employees are much more likely to show up to work every day and require less time off in the long run.
4. Boost in Employee Morale
What is morale and why would you want more of it in the workplace?
Morale is what keeps employees showing up to work engaged and motivated. It can make or break their attitude and how they show up to do their job each day. When there is high morale in the workplace, more employees are satisfied with their roles within the company. In turn, they’re likely to be more productive and efficient.
There are a variety of factors that can boost morale in the workplace, such as improving work-life balance, recognizing and rewarding employees for their hard work, offering unlimited sick days, and putting wellness programs into place.
Encouraging regular physical therapy visits through the company’s wellness program is one of the best ways to boost morale. You would be surprised about the positive changes you see when your team feels like upper management cares about their overall well-being.
5. More Efficient Workflow
In general, employees who feel good both mentally and physically are much more productive at work. Without work injuries or minor aches and pains slowing them down, they can be more efficient at their jobs, resulting in fewer errors and higher output.
The same remains to be true when there are little to no mental health issues affecting employees in the workplace. Regular physical therapy visits promote a major stress reduction, therefore allowing staff to develop healthier coping mechanisms and perform better on the job.
6. Reduction in On-the-Job Injuries
Another perk of regular physical therapy visits is that employees are less likely to be injured on the job. Slips, falls, overexertion and overuse injuries are far more common than you may think. Whether employees are encouraged to see a physical therapist on or off-site, seeking treatment for minor aches and pains right away can improve the outcome.
On-site physical therapy clinics are a fast-growing trend — for good reason. They’re an excellent amenity in any workplace because employees can seek help for injuries and pain immediately, then get on with their day. Having a dedicated physical therapist in the workplace helps employees feel better supported. The time saved traveling to off-site appointments is valuable both for employees and management.
Another growing trend in the physical therapy world is online services. This is another great way to save time for employees who don’t want to travel to a clinic. Virtual physical therapy is led by a doctor and can be done in-office or from the comfort of home. Online physical therapy can still provide all of the same benefits as in-person visits.
7. Better Quality of Life
Keeping all of the above benefits in mind, it’s clear that regular physical therapy visits result in a better quality of life overall. A great physical therapist will encourage employees to take care of their body and mind, therefore allowing them to live pain-free.
For healthy individuals, regular physical therapy visits are incredible for improving muscle and joint flexibility. The therapist may incorporate various techniques, such as stretching, breathing techniques, or massage to have each employee feeling their best.
If injuries do occur on or off-site, a proper physical therapy plan helps patients improve mobility and functional strength following the event. Although sometimes surgery is necessary, other times it does reduce the chance of the individual needing surgery at all. It’s always better to avoid invasive surgical procedures at all costs — this greatly improves an employee’s quality of life.
In conclusion, encouraging regular physical therapy visits is vital for employees’ well-being both on the job and outside of work. Creating a wellness program that provides additional physical therapy benefits can lead to happier and healthier employees, better job satisfaction, and higher morale in the workplace.
Remember, your employees are your most important asset. By providing value to them through physical therapy, the company will see incredible benefits in return. Everybody wins.
Are you interested in bringing the benefits of physical therapy to your workplace? At AmeriCare Physical Therapy, we can help you manage that pain with our extensive services. Book an appointment with us today.