“For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking.” –Martha Grogan, MD, Mayo Clinic  

Movement and physical activity are important to our overall health and can also play a significant role in the workplace. Research has shown employees with easy access to physical activity and purposeful movement in their workday show increased productivity, improved time-management, more positive interactions with colleagues, and even more general satisfaction at the end of the work day. 

As a manager or wellness leader, there are steps you can take to promote health for your individual employees and your workplace community as a whole, even with hybrid or remote workers. Policies, incentives, and friendly challenges can all be powerful vehicles to help usher more physical activity into your workplace to create a culture of movement. Start with these accessible, adaptable ideas for bringing movement into your work community, whether your team is physically together or not. 

Movement in Meetings: 

For many of us, participation in meetings is a regular part of our work day. Change up the notion that meetings involve sitting down for an extended period of time! Try one of these tips: 

  • For 1:1 or very small meetings, consider holding a walking meeting. Research has shown that walking can boost creative output by as much as 60%
  • For larger meetings, building in established time for movement or stretching breaks can help alleviate extended periods of sitting. Additionally, promoting the option to stand during meetings, especially when meetings exceed an hour in length, is an easy-to-implement strategy.  

Leading by Example 

Employees are looking to you to set the norms and expectations for the workplace. Consider the following (according to your comfort level): 

  • Mark out time on your work calendar for movement, and encourage your staff to do the same. A lunchtime “appointment” for walking, yoga, or even sitting by a window doing light stretches shows your team it’s OK for them to do the same. 
  • Talk about it. Mention that you flex your schedule twice a month in order to meet your jogging buddy or that your holiday wish list has a new set of hand weights. Ask them if there are ways you can accommodate some flexibility in their schedule so they can do the same.  
  • Ask them about their interest in ergonomic/standing desks and, if possible, advocate for your company to purchase them 
  • Start each team meeting with a 3-minute stretch or take a break in the middle for a quick walk up and down the hallway 
  • Create a “wellness resources” shared folder and include digital items such as links to 10-minute workplace movement videos, fun ideas for activity breaks, and this yoga poses handbook 

Organizing Workplace Movement: 

A helpful first step in creating organized opportunities for movement across employees’ day is to establish an employee-led wellness committee or fitness panel; initiatives are typically more representative of what employees are seeking when they develop directly from employees. While an employee committee is a helpful starting point, there are a few tried and true ways to start organizing opportunities for movement in the workplace: 

  • Organize movement-based groups to happen during lunch, before work, or after work (i.e. yoga, walking, biking, etc.). 
  • Organize inclusive and friendly movement challenges across employees or departments (be sure to include chair-based routines and considerations for other limited-mobility staff) 
  • Sponsor/promote employee participation in local movement and fitness events such as walks, runs, and recreational sports leagues.  
  • Offer movement-based opportunities, such as our monthly movement series, throughout the work day 
  • Convert an area of the workplace into an active space. This could be a small meeting room or quiet corner with some simple equipment such as mats, dumbbells and resistance bands. 
  • If you can't offer access to a workplace gym, consider an employee discount for popular chain gyms to help your people to stay fit whatever their schedule, or reimbursing them for at-home exercise equipment. 
  • Gamify it! A great task for a wellness committee is organizing a workplace movement challenge. Workplace movement challenges are most successful when they are accessible and inclusive for all employees. The challenge should include both personal employee and team-based goals; employees are given time during their work day to meet their goal, and make sure to choose some fun and wellness-based prizes. 

Is your leadership team feeling stuck, or looking for more ideas to support your employees’ health and wellness? We’d love to partner with you to move your worksite wellness goals forward; contact us today.