Physical fitness and the workplace are frequently associated with each other. Why? Because the former has such a positive power on the second. Being inactive is unsurprisingly detrimental to our overall health and fitness – workers are guilty of spending up to three-quarters of their day sitting down. Unsurprisingly this contributes to a myriad of both mental and physical issues that could be preventable. As a result, companies should focus a great deal of their attention on promoting corporate wellness. This means getting involved with events like National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, which is celebrated annually in May.
Why observe National Physical Fitness and Sports Month?
The bottom line is poor employee health is an expensive problem for many businesses. It leads to issues like absenteeism, lost productivity and even the loss of quality candidates. Let’s delve a little deeper into why National Physical Fitness & Sports Month is so beneficial for organisations.
You don’t need us to tell you that exercise stimulates the feel-good chemicals serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. These chemicals combined take a progressive step in combating moderate cases of depression and anxiety amongst workers. Ultimately, this means frequent exercise can lead to employees living a longer and happier life.
More productive workforce
We’ve already briefly mentioned the feel-good chemicals stimulated by exercise. But staying active really does improve mental and cognitive health, which in turn expedites work performance. Alzheimer’s Society revealed previous studies have demonstrated a clear link between physical activity levels and cognitive performance, suggesting that exercise might be an effective way to reduce cognitive decline in later life. This benefits overall cognitive functions like our learning abilities and concentration.
Daily exercise can contribute to preventing serious diseases including certain cancers, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. As well as helping people keep conditions like obesity in check. It can also reduce stress, which in many cases may have been brought about by the workplace.
There’s a lot of team-building elements businesses can enhance by observing National Physical Fitness & Sports Month. This fosters a strong, fun and collaborative company culture.
Who drives such schemes?
It’s not just an HR issue. Physical fitness should be promoted by all including HR, managers and employees. Everyone in the organisation should be actively championing physical health.
With that being said, there are certain steps various people should be taking:
HR: implement fitness-centric policies that help create a safe, positive and fun place to work.
Managers: motivate and support employees in any way they can for example encouraging teams to get fresh air.
Employees: be proactive in their own physical health. This could mean inviting colleagues out for walks at lunch or finding the time during the day to engage in 30 minutes of exercise.
How to celebrate National Physical Fitness and Sports Month in style?
So, let’s take a look at a few ideas of what organisations can do.
Invest in fitness trackers
If you’ve got the budget for it, consider treating the team to fitness trackers like FitBits. These handy wearable devices will almost certainly make employees more mindful of their activity. These are just a few of the things you can track:
- Daily burned calories
- Heart rate
These watches can also be integral to setting achievable fitness goals and hold you accountable.
Small lifestyles changes
One of the biggest stigmas associated with physical activity is that you have to take a big chunk out of your day to do it and it can only be done in a gym or sports environment. There’s actually a wide variety of simple steps you can take in your daily routine to contribute towards physical fitness. Here’s some ideas:
- Getting off the subway or train one or two stops early and walking to your destination.
- Adding berries to your breakfast to reach the all-important 5 a day.
- Taking yourself for a brisk 30 minute walk at lunchtime to re-energise.
- Walking meetings which involve calling in instead of cameras.
When it comes to implementing initiatives, this is where HR departments can step in and get creative. A trend that is being seen in a lot of organisations is walking clubs. These are typically authorised during on-the-clock hours but will involve groups of the team walking together. It can even be incorporated into a community focussed initiative like walking while litter picking or walking while raising money for a cause.
Another idea is HR departments could organise after-hour games for the team. The sports can be entirely tailored to the interests of the workers but ideas could be softball, basketball or football.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ran a very successful campaign called Move Your Way for Teens. Targeted at getting young people moving, the movement called for people to post on social media how they were being active using the hashtag #GetYour60. This is an idea that could be similarly replicated in the workplace with the hashtag #GetYour30, as this is the target exercise time for adults. There could also be incentives and prizes on offer for those who really get involved with the cause.
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