Integrating Exercise Into the Workplace

Integrating Exercise Into the Workplace

Employee wellness is an essential part of June’s National Safety Month. Therapists encourage physical activity in patients as part of their rehabilitation, but sometimes overlook the importance of exercise to their own well-being, especially in a hectic workplace environment.  The Centers for Disease Control  (CDC) notes that “regular physical activity is one of the most effective disease prevention behaviors” and lists resources and tools for integrating exercise routines into the work site.  One recommended initiative is the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award Plus Program (PALA+). It has a physical activity component and a healthy eating component, both of which can be adapted to accommodate disabilities/injuries and dietary lifestyles/restrictions. PALA+  requires adults to be active at least an hour a day, at least five days a week, for 6 out of 8 weeks.  Alternatively, a pedometer measuring daily activity steps can be used with the goal of reaching 8,500 steps. Each week program also focuses on a specific healthy eating goal.  Goals are added cumulatively to effect a sustainable change in behavior.

More cities and states are recognizing the significance of voluntary and mandated policies supporting physical activity at work.   Fit employees are more productive and have fewer illnesses making them more cost-effective. Employees who exercise regularly are less stressed, more self-confident, and take on more leadership roles at work.  California cities and counties have adopted various policies and initiatives to include health breaks in the work day and healthy food choices in cafeterias, vending machines and public facilities.  SAS and Google have on site fitness centers for employee use; Eaton Corporation and Michigan State University Federal Credit Union offer free pedometers and walking trails; and Intel and Cisco offer healthy dining options such as sushi and salad bars. One of the more innovative initiatives is UCLA’s Kaiser Permanente Center For Health Equity’s program:  “Instant Recess/Lift Off!”  Created by Dr. Toni Yancey, and consisting of 10 minute workday intervals that combine music and calisthenics, this structured group-based exercise regimen has been shown to have a significant return on investment.

While many employers have embraced the correlation between employee wellness and employee productivity, not everyone has, including some in the healthcare sector.  So here are a few tips and suggestions of how to add exercise to your work day:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.   Check out the CDC’s “StairWELL To Better Health” for ways to implement this program and improve stairwell appearance.
  • Trade your chair for a fitness ball.  This will tone muscles and improve balance.
  • Stand as much as possible. This burns three times the calories as sitting.  While standing do frequent heel lifts, rising on toes and then back down.
  • Do stretching/strengthening exercises during work.  Every half hour do one minute stretches.  Keep weights or rubber bands handy for resistance training.
  • Download these apps to your smartphone:
    • “Everywhere Exercise-EvEx” ($2.99) – Stealth exercises to improve
    • flexibility and toning, no equipment needed.
    • “Calorie” ($2.99) – Reach your diet, weight loss and fitness goals.
    • “Pedometer FREE”-Arawella Corporation (free)

If you are looking for a work environment that supports employee wellness call the Centra team at 800 535 0076 and let us find you your perfect fit!

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