Working out at work pays health dividends 

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Q: I work for a shipping company with about 45 employees, and many of us have commutes of more than an hour each way. It’s almost impossible to get any exercise during the week. We’d like to see a small gym put in downstairs or get our company to help pay for gym memberships. What’s the best way for me to approach my boss with this idea? — Arlen P., Dallas

A: First of all, Dr. Mike’s Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute is a leader in designing corporate wellness programs. Your boss can contact the institute at 866-811-4352. They can explain the benefits — to the bottom line of companies and the bottoms of employees — that come from instituting fitness, nutrition, smoking-cessation and stress-reduction programs.

According to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, in 2012, companies that received their Corporate Health Achievement Award outperformed the S&P 500, posting an annualized return of 5.23 percent versus the S&P 500 of .06 percent. You see, these wellness programs reduce insurance costs (something your boss can negotiate), foster company loyalty and make employees happier, healthier and, yes, more productive. It’s a win-win for everybody.

The only (reasonable) reason your boss wouldn’t go along with providing employees with a wellness program is if he or she thought no one would participate and the effort would be a waste of money. So here’s our advice. Find out how many of your fellow employees are truly committed to using an on-site gym or a work-sponsored gym membership, and estimate how much those initiatives would cost the company. Then talk to human resources to find out how much your company could save in reduced health insurance costs once there’s a wellness program in place. Then it’s time to make a formal presentation, and don’t forget to have your boss call Dr. Mike’s institute if management has any more questions. Good luck, and let us know how things work out!

Q: My dad had age-related macular degeneration, and has lost most of his eyesight. I’m worried that as I get older, I will too. Can I prevent it from developing? — Sandra S., Montreal, Quebec

A: First, as you may know, age-related macular degeneration in the early and middle stages doesn’t cause any symptoms. The first signs of AMD may be discovered during a dilated eye exam, so make sure you get regular eye-health checkups.

Later stages of the disease can make your central vision blurry or even eradicate it. In fact, AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in adults, affecting around 11 percent of folks 80 and older. And having a relative with AMD does increase your risk.

But there’s good news: A new study called AREDS 2 reveals the powerful AMD-preventive effects of certain nutrients and offers you a way to protect your eyes while feasting on the tastiest of foods.

The two most powerful anti-AMD nutrients are the antioxidants leutein and zeaxanthin. The problem is that 60 percent of folks have never heard of lutein, and 94 percent don’t know what zeaxanthin is! But red bell peppers, green leafy veggies like collards and maize are loaded with them. And you can take a 10-mg daily supplement of each. Getting a good supply helps filter out high-energy blue light and other intruders that damage the retina. And if you have early-stage “dry AMD,” the supplements help keep it from advancing to the more serious “wet AMD.”

Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Michael Roizen is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.sharecare.com.

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