Olivia Newton-John was apparently on to something. We, as a country, are in dire need of getting physical. In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published “Physical Activity Guidelines” which concluded that aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activities provide substantial health benefits to adults. Their guidelines for minimum participation, still regarded as effective today, include:
- 150 minutes/week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as walking or 75 minutes/week of vigorous aerobic activity, such as jogging
- At least two days a week of muscle-strengthening activities
Recently, the CDC did a study to see how many U.S. adults were meeting these guidelines. Unfortunately, the results are quite dismal:
- Only 20.6% of U.S. adults met both aerobic and muscle-strengthening guidelines
- Only 29.3% of U.S. adults met the muscle-strengthening guidelines
- Only 51.6% of U.S. adults met the aerobic activity guideline
These results make it no wonder that as a nation we are facing alarming obesity rates and rising health care costs. With most adults spending 40+ hours a week at work, there is an opportunity for employers to help encourage their employees to engage in physical activities. The good news is not only will this help employees improve their health, but research has also shown that encouraging exercise at work improves productivity. Here are a few ways employers can help encourage engagement in physical activities:
Leadership Support – Even if your office has a fitness facility or walking opportunities, many employees are hesitant to engage in these activities during work hours, out of fear of being viewed as ‘not working’. To remedy this, organizations should have leaders being visible and vocal participants, creating a culture that is encouraging and supportive of a work/exercise balance.
Health Champions Network – Each office has its own culture and opportunities to encourage engagement in physical activities. By having local health champions encouraging and promoting workout facilities, walking breaks or running clubs, will help provide visibility and awareness to physical activity opportunities.
The Power of Social – Social health is a valuable way to help keep people motivated and accountable for their participation in physical activities. From, formal corporate challenges, to walking groups, or simply a workout partner, finding others with similar goals can help people stay on track when their commitment begins to waver.
Let us know – how has fitness been incorporated into your workplace?