The holidays are coming to a close and the New Year is fast approaching! This means that your employees are setting their resolutions and there is no better time to begin promoting more physical activity in the workplace.
For adults (18+), the World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week. Moreover, in order to be beneficial for cardiovascular health, all activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minute duration. WHO also reports that physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality and causes 6% of all deaths. Additionally, research has proven that employees who are physically inactive are costing you 15.3% higher in annual health care claims costs, or $606 per high-risk person as compared to those who are physically active1.
Starting to understand the benefits of physical activity, huh? Here are some ideas and initiatives that you can employ in your workplace to help promote more activity to your employees:
- Initiate a Flex Schedules Policy: Offer flexible work hours to allow time for exercising during the day. The most popular policy we have seen allows the employees to select their preferred workday (i.e. 7a – 4p, 8a – 5p or 9a – 6p)
- Initiate a Walking Meeting Policy: When feasible, suggest that employees engage in “walk and talk” meetings, rather than sitting in a conference room. The policy can be more stringent, requiring that employees schedule at least one meeting or conference call per month as a walk and talk meeting.
Onsite Activities and Programs
- Onsite Exercise classes: You can target different populations by providing a variety of classes at different times. Some people will be attracted to intense aerobic activity, while others will prefer slower-paced classes. Generate excitement by introducing new kinds of exercise throughout the year, such as tai chi, kickboxing, yoga and Pilates.
- Walk for charity: Some people may be motivated to get fit by the thought of helping those in need. Select a good cause – or several – and encourage employees to participate in a charity walk/run. You could even sponsor one that starts at your workplace.
- Walking buddy: People are more likely to stick with their exercise plan when they have a buddy or group for motivation. Provide incentives to encourage employees to team up or form walking groups. Also, hand out maps of walking routes that begin and end at the workplace.
- Pre-shift stretching: If sprains, strains and back pain are common occurrences at your job site, group stretching before the start of each shift can help improve job performance and prevent injury.
- Bike racks: Offer convenient, safe and highly visible locations for employees to park their bicycles. Combine this initiative with an incentive program that encourages employees to bike to work or bike during lunch.
- Provide showers: If possible, provide shower facilities onsite to encourage employees to exercise during the day.
- Gym Membership Reimbursement: Show your company’s commitment to health by providing wellness-boosting incentives like free or discounted gym memberships. This can be the motivation some people need to start exercising regularly. Solicit local gyms for discount packages or free promotional offers. Many of our clients offer a reimbursement program but require their employees to prove utilization of at least 8 times per month.
- Running shoes: Boost participation in an exercise program by offering a coupon for free or discounted running shoes.
- Sports store gift certificate: Sports store merchandise will help equip your employees to swim, run or engage in other physical activity.
- Exercise DVDs: Some people are more comfortable exercising in the privacy and convenience of their own home. For these individuals, an at-home exercise regime can start with a motivational exercise DVD. Be sure to offer a variety of options, including for beginners, intense aerobics and the latest fitness trends.
Have some additional ideas that I didn’t mention above? Feel free to include them in the comment section below. Happy Exercising!
1Ron Z. Goetzel, et al.,Ten Modifiable Risk Factors Are Linked to One-Fifth of Employer-Employee Health Care Spending, Health Affairs, Vol 31,No11, November 2012.
Jaime Kennedy is an #EmployeeBenefits fanatic with a passion for holistic well-being. She developed her niche in Employee Benefits Consulting after earning a Masters of Public Health in 2012. Since joining The Bailey Group team, Jaime has become a strategic asset to our client’s by proving creative strategy designs that focus not only on cost-containment, but go further to look at how we can use benefits to propel their business forward. Jaime especially loves her family, church, Eco-living, and making green smoothies a part of her daily routine.