AUSTIN(American Heart Association) — As part of the national Move More Month in April, the American Heart Association is helping companies boost efforts to help employees move more and eat healthy where they spend most of their time — at work.
Improved health needs to become a norm in the business space.
Finding fun ways to get active in the workplace such as team walks, corporate recess, and walking meetings help to reinvigorate the mind and elevate the heart.
Almost a quarter of U.S. companies’ medical costs per year are for 10 modifiable risk factors. Employees who get moderate physical activity and eat healthy can reduce obesity, blood pressure, and bad cholesterol, which are risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
Studies also indicate employees can gain about two hours of life expectancy for each hour of regular exercise.
Besides improving employees’ health, fitness in the workplace can lower long-term unemployment, reduce absenteeism, health care costs, turnover, and short-term disability, while increasing productivity. It can even help to improve employee job satisfaction and work performance.
Employers also gain from a healthy workplace and workforce. In fact, every dollar spent on a worksite wellness program nets employers $2.50 to $10 in benefits such as reduced absenteeism and medical costs. Employers with on-site programs also net a 6 to 32 percent drop in short-term sick leave.
The key to workplace wellness is leadership buy-in and involvement. Top-level executives can set the tone for companies with a kickoff event for Move More Month. And as part of the activities, companies can invite employees to wear sneakers and jeans and take a lunch-hour walk as a team. This can demonstrate the importance of health in the organization and build comradery among employees.
Here are some ideas to add more movement into the work day from the American Heart Association’s Healthy for Good™ initiative:
- Take a walk on your lunch break. Don’t focus on the step count or the minutes, just move more when your schedule allows.
- Increase your activity in simple ways around the office. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park farthest from the door in the parking lot, convert conference room meetings to walking meetings or get up and walk to someone’s desk over sending email.
- Schedule exercise on your calendar. Add exercise to your calendar and treat your scheduled time like an important meeting.
- Find a partner. Having a partner to keep you accountable and motivated can be the key to keeping your healthy habits moving forward.
- Take advantage of workplace wellness offerings. Ask your supervisor or human resources department what employee wellness resources and incentives are available.