Encouraging employees to walk more is the perfect way to help them improve their health. This is especially true if you have employees who must sit all day to do their jobs; more and more research is showing that sitting for hours at a time is incredibly detrimental to our health. You and your colleagues may all be at different fitness levels, but all of us can certainly benefit from taking more steps throughout the day.
How do you get your colleagues to step it up? Here are a few ideas:
- Implement a company-wide walking challenge. All across the nation, companies large and small are implementing walking competitions for their teams. Why? Because walking challenges are incredibly effective. The combination of friendly competition, increased interactions between coworkers and an encouraging, supportive environment in the workplace is very powerful. Walking is easy enough that all staff members can participate without being intimidated by the office fitness buffs. You will be amazed at how well your employees respond, at how much fun they have together, and at how many of them continue healthy habits long after the challenge ends.
- Get pedometers for your team. Whether or not you run a walking challenge, providing pedometers for your staff members can go a long way. A study from Stanford Medical School showed that people who use pedometers walk about 2000 steps (or about a mile) more per day than those who don’t. Putting a number on activity levels intrigues and motivates people. Just look at the rapidly growing success of FitBit, MyFitnessPal, BodyBugg, Nike’s Fuelband, and other products and devices that track physical activity.Can’t pay for your team’s pedometers out of pocket? Simply making them available for employees to purchase in the workplace is often enough. Just as Providence Health & Services, who in the last two years have sold more than 14,000 partially-subsidized LifeBalance pedometers to their employees, who continually ask for more. Employees are more likely to buy a pedometer if it’s on sale in the cafeteria and their colleagues are buying them than they are to make a separate trip to the store to pick one up on their own.
- Organize voluntary group walks near the office. You can schedule these before work, after work or on employee breaks; the last option will be particularly appreciated by employees who have trouble squeezing in exercise before or after work. Make sure your colleagues know about these options by sending out email reminders or invites, posting information or sign ups in break rooms, or putting the information on the company intranet.These walks don’t have to be long treks; experts note that breaking walks up into smaller segments throughout the day is just as effective as doing it all at once. Round up a group for a 20 minute stroll before the lunch break is over. Take 10 minute walking breaks when the morning coffee starts to wear off or that mid-afternoon sluggishness sets in. Getting up and moving is all that matters. Bonus: exercise helps boost mental focus and productivity, so having colleagues take a quick stroll in the fresh air may be just what they needed to do their best work.