29 Dec 6 Reasons to Encourage Fitness in the Workplace and How to Keep your Employees Active and Healthy
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Why should employers offer standing desks, workplace wellness programs, incentives to bike to work, or in-office workout classes? The amount of benefits that come with happy and healthy employees is immeasurable and overall makes your office a better place to work. Here we discuss 6 reasons why this is and how to keep your employees active.
- Their immune systems are stronger. Getting their heart rate up and working greatly increases the level of resistance their body builds up. An employee who is physically fit will be less likely to catch the flu bug that goes around each winter.
- They have more energy. Regular exercise helps the body gain the ability to stay resilient. Allowing fit employees to sustain their energy levels throughout the day, helping them concentrate on tasks at hand.
- They are more positive and are less stressed. There is no denying that exercise releases endorphins that generally make people “feel good”. This allows active employees to exude a can-do attitude that also benefit your entire team. Regular exercise also offers a temporary getaway for employees to relieve tensions and stress, promoting their positive moods even more.
- They are proven to have the ability to set and achieve goals. Employees who get regular exercise challenge themselves to maintain their physical fitness while striving to continuously improve. Fit employees generally feel better about themselves because they have proven that they can set a physical fitness goal and can reach that goal or work toward that goal.
- They present numerous team-bonding opportunities. Activities like flag football, tennis, soccer, or basketball are excellent ways to take a break from the hustle and bustle of office work and to get team’s minds off their stressors.
- Offering workplace exercise programs or contests show that you care about your employees. Carrying out a friendly competition with your employees based on how often they exercise in exchange for a prize or reward can boost employee morale and reduce employee turnover. Employees will take notice when employers act and try to prolong employees well-being.
After understanding the importance of encouraging employees to maintain a healthy lifestyle, consider incorporating one of these following best practices in your office to help jumpstart the beginning of your healthy habits.
- Offer standing desks. Time spent standing can burn up to 170 more calories than an equal amount of time spent sitting. The long-term effects of standing can be crucial to your employees’ health. Those who spend too much time sitting develop an increased risk of being diagnosed with diabetes, heart disease, and early death. Additionally, utilizing a standing desk often in the workplace can also help reduce blood sugar levels, especially when standing after lunch. In a study conducted by JP Buckley, 10 participants between the ages of 21 and 61 were grouped and assigned to either stand for 185 minutes after lunch, or simply stay sitting. They found that the group who stood for 185 minutes saw a 43% decrease in blood sugar levels. In a different study during which office workers interchanged between sitting and standing throughout their workday, also experienced a 32% reduced likelihood of back pain.
- Design a wellness challenge. Designing team challenges is a great way to encourage wellness habits and instills a sense of comradery within your office. When designing your wellness challenge, be sure to include a grand prize winner as well as weekly or smaller prize winners to ensure everyone has a chance to “win” and increase participation rates. These smaller prize contests can include “best workout outfit” or “most new activities tried” as to even the playing field as well. Remember to also include healthy eating challenges as well. For example, you could incorporate weekly challenges to not eat sugar, or drink 8 glasses of water each day to help form these habits.
- Encourage employees to bike to work. Cycling as a way of commuting to work not only helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it also poses a great opportunity for employees to promote their health and wellbeing. Offering monetary reimbursements to riding bikes to work or offering free and secure bike parking are great ways to encourage employees to use this environmentally-friendly commute.
- Consider having in-office workout classes. Many companies like Dropbox and Twitter offer in-office yoga or pilates classes. This offers quick getaways for employees to escape from stressors in addition to numerous health benefits like improved lung capacity, cardiorespiratory performance, and melatonin production. In a study during which 2 groups were observed for 3 months comparing the effects of yoga on different measures of health, they found that regular yoga practices improved cardiorespiratory ability and significantly improved melatonin production by 71%.