Americans are well known for being industrious, hard workers. According to the International Labor Organization, “Americans work an average of 37 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers.” While there are certainly a number of benefits that come with working hard, fundamental changes in the nature of work are having effects on workplace wellness and our overall health.
A 2018 published in The Lancet entitled “Worldwide trends in insufficient physical activity from 2001 to 2016” found that over 27 percent of people worldwide received insufficient physical activity on a daily basis. According to the Cleveland Clinic, around eight of ten U.S. adults and children aren't getting enough exercise for optimal health, and long hours at the office or school are often a part of the problem.
Fortunately for businesses who care about the health and wellness of their employees, there are many wellness strategies for increasing physical activity in the workplace.
Benefits of a Workplace Wellness Programs
Healthier employees are certainly going to be happier employees, thus directly leading to an improved company culture. However, workplace wellness programs that focus on increasing physical activity can also directly lead to productivity gains for your business.
A recent Harvard study found that exercise doesn’t just lead to physical health benefits, but also impacts our mental health through enhanced creativity, quicker learning, a sharper memory, and improved concentration levels. Unfortunately, around 42 percent of people reason that a lack of time is the biggest hindrance to exercising regularly.
Innovative and progressive companies around the country are at the forefront of developing workplace activities as part of a wider human resource program.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that:
A worksite wellness program that includes a physical activity component can help maintain a healthier workforce. A healthier workforce can benefit from reduced direct costs associated with health care expenses. The worksite wellness program also has potential to increase employees’ productivity, reduce absenteeism, and increase morale. Additionally, these programs are often seen as a central component of an attractive employee compensation and benefits package that can be used as a recruitment and retention tool to attract and keep high quality employees.
Ways to Increase Physical Activity in the Workplace
Forcing your employees to get away from their desks and take a twenty minute jog before their lunch break might not be the best way to incorporate workplace activities. However, there are other innovative ways to increase physical activity in the workplace.
Many large corporations, such as Google, have full gyms with state-of-the-art fitness equipment in their corporate campuses. Employees have free access to a 24/7 gym and can also take advantage of free workout classes offered throughout the day.
If your company doesn’t have the resources (or space) for this type of perk, investing in some unique office “furniture” is a straightforward strategy for encouraging employees to be more active. Treadmill desks are a great way to incorporate more movement into normally sedentary situations like traditional office settings. There are also cycles and elliptical machines that can be neatly folded and stored underneath a desk for use throughout the day.
Other strategies for creating a worksite environment that promotes physical activity include:
- Incorporating walking paths throughout corporate campuses
- Hosting walking meetings
- Creating specific break times to encourage exercise or physical activity
- Promoting the use of stairs instead of elevators
- Offering bicycle storage to encourage bicycling to work
- Educating employees on taking microbreaks to encourage changes in movement patterns or break up sedentary job tasks.
For employees who have physically demanding jobs, workplace wellness might require finding restful movement and mindful recovery activities to help stimulate improved health, rather than additional strenuous goals. This can include stretching routines, a yin-style yoga practice, and other ways to help muscles recover from physical strain.
Work-Fit and Workplace Wellness
For companies who really want to encourage workplace wellness, Work-Fit offers onsite injury prevention and management for your workforce. Work-Fit is the nationwide leader of applying sports medicine techniques in the workplace to prevent injuries and increase your bottom line. Our wellness management program is conducted by exercise physiologists, health and fitness professionals, and athletic trainers who are also wellness coaches. The program incorporates fitness consultations so that your employees can discover either individual or group strategies for meeting their fitness and exercise goals.
To help your employees become more physically active in the workplace, contact Work-Fit today and learn about how our wellness coaches can help your team.