Bringing fitness into the workplace may be the simplest way to reduce obesity among Americans, while cutting down on spiraling company health care costs at the same time.
Many insurance companies already recognize this trend. Humana announced a new wellness initiative this week- participation in the voluntary wellness program will earn incentive rewards for exercising, not smoking, and obtaining regular health screenings.
Let’s face it – a fit employee helps a company save money. There’s a reduced risk of lifestyle diseases, such as type-2 diabetes and heart disease; less sick days, and more productivity. Companies have recognized that it’s in their best interest to promote wellness in the workplace.
This all sounds great in theory, but let’s have a dose of reality. The average American spends anywhere from seven to nine hours at work daily – and likely more, considering staff cuts and a reluctance to rehire due to the recession.
The average commuting time can range from a half hour to over an hour, especially during wintry months. And when our worker arrives at home, they are likely to have children, homework, housework, and dinner all competing for their precious time. Not to mention that they are most likely exhausted.
So when does the average person find time to exercise? In 20 years of training people, most have to carve out their workout time either early in the morning before work and school demands or in the evening.
But if you find it difficult to energize at 5am or have children and a family, it can be a difficult prospect to find any time to exercise.
This is why exercise and wellness programs in the workplace can be so helpful. Employees have a dedicated time for exercise without any conflicts, and the camaraderie of fellow exercisers is a powerful motivating tool.
Steve, an Orland Park resident, works out three times a week at his company’s onsite lunchtime fitness program.
“I find it extremely convenient to workout at lunch – the half hour class is challenging, plus I still have time to eat a quick lunch when I’m done,” he said. “Before, it was difficult to stick to a consistent schedule, as I often stay at work late and then I want to spend time with the kids when I get home.”
A valuable side benefit of daytime workouts is the extra boost of energy employees receives. Whereas many workers often feel sluggish and have tight muscles from sitting behind a computer all day, the exercising employees have worked off their stress, stretched tight muscles, and got their blood moving.
The Horton Group, an insurance company located in Orland Park, offers corporate wellness programs for businesses. Components of these wellness initiatives include health screenings and risk appraisals, wellness committee development, incentives, professional coaching, and special events.
Don’t have a workplace fitness program at your company? The good news is that you don’t need to wait for your Human Resources department to institute one. Any ambitious employee can initiate the effort. Here are some possibilities and options that currently work well for other companies:
- Lunchtime workouts – Instead of eating lunch at your desk or going out every day, why not commit 30 minutes towards a workout? My corporate training company has designed a variety of lunchtime classes that are quick and effective, including half hour circuit training classes that combine strength and cardio training intervals; yoga classes; core conditioning workouts, and even outdoor boot camps.
- Lunchtime walking groups are popular options for many workers. During the winter months, many of these groups train indoors by climbing stairs for intervals of time. Did you know that stair climbing for an hour will burn up to 1000 calories?
- Hourly exercise breaks – A five minute exercise break every hour can be effective in boosting energy, increasing metabolism, and preventing sore and tight muscles. And it adds up – after an eight hour day, you’ve accumulated forty minutes of exercise! Try picking three different exercises every hour and alternating them; sample workouts include a set of pushups, lunges, and core twists, alternated the next hour with a five minute stair climb.
- After-work fitness classes provide a calming transition from work, allowing workers to rid themselves of stress. One of my workplace fitness clients is a group of schoolteachers. We meet once a week after school, using their school gymnasium for the weekly workout. Participants have lost several inches over the last six months and find the accountability of committing to the workout has helped them be more consistent in their exercise routine.
There are many other wellness initiatives that can spur on workplace fitness. Regular weight loss competitions, weekly “healthy lunch” pot lucks, and informational wellness workshops can all be useful tools in encouraging employees to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
One thing is for certain – we all must think outside the box when coming up with workable solutions for living a healthy lifestyle. If working out during your workday seems a convenient idea, just do it!