How To Start An Informal Workplace Walking Program

corporate wellness Oct 24, 2017

Envision a more physically active company. One in which you and your co-workers take the time to step away from the confines of your cubicles and move about throughout the day.

As a rule, walking is generally a safe and effective method of exercise for most people regardless of age and ability. It doesn’t require a fistful of cash, special equipment, or a dedicated fitness center; just the desire to reap the benefits of good health.

Enlist the help of enthusiastic colleagues to recruit others and create a buzz. Coming together as a group, you can learn how to start an informal workplace walking program.

Why is a workplace walking program beneficial?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the number of American adults aged 20 and over that are affected with obesity is nearly 38% and those being overweight 33%. These figures, that total nearly 71%, reveal an imminent health crisis. If this trend continues, it will soon overtake smoking as the leading preventable cause of death in the US.

As an American employee, you most likely spend much of your long work day seated at a desk. These extended, sedentary hours, may be posing serious risks to your mental and physical well-being.

Something as simple as a casual walking group can be the catalyst to reduced health risks and lower medical costs for both the participants and the employer. The benefits of a walking program include:

  • Fosters empathy; enhancing workplace relationships and increasing morale
  • Elevates energy levels; strengthening physical and mental stamina, and positive emotions
  • Increases brain function; boosting memory and creativity
  • Develops team building; promoting critical thinking and communication skills
  • Raises mood; relieving stress, anxiety, irritability, and depression
  • Promotes mindfulness; heightening motivation and focus

Design a simple plan of action to build a daily walking routine into your busy day.

Start small. Encourage participation by setting an example and being an inspiration to your fellow workers; show them how they can celebrate their fitness and overall well-being.

Begin by mapping out and measuring a walking route inside and outside of your building. This could include:

  • office buildings hallways, stairwells and meeting rooms
  • outdoor company grounds, parking lots and greenspace
  • neighborhoods surrounding the vicinity of your workplace

Don’t allow your routine to fall to the bottom of your priority list. By developing a social atmosphere, it can be fun and challenging, as well as promoting community spirit among employees.

Look for blocks of times to bring your group get together. Search your schedule for periods of downtime and make them count:

  • 15 minutes for a brisk walk during breaks throughout the day
  • 45 minutes to gather together during your lunch break
  • 90 minutes at the end of the day

Everyone is fighting the time crunch, so much to do and so little time to do it. If you break down your day you may be surprised at how much you can fit in, even if it just means 15 minutes at a time.

Be clear about what you want to accomplish by identifying your goals.

Defining your goals will be essential to establishing sound and clear-cut motivational strategies to reach your health and wellness intentions. However, you can’t just talk about it; you’ve got to be about it. Your motivation will get you started, habit will keep you going, and discipline will bridge the gap between your goals and accomplishment.

Work toward SMART GOALS

  • Specific—Know what you have to do daily to reach your goals
  • Measurable—Do you want to lose 5 pounds? Lower your BMI by 5 points?
  • Achievable—It’s your goal, you have to be able to achieve it
  • Realistic—Your goal should make you push yourself, but it should also be attainable
  • Time Frame—Have a specific start and end date

Look at your goals as stepping stones rather than final destinations; reaching the goal is not the end, but the means to another goal.

Measuring and assessing your progress.

Changing lifelong, deep-rooted habits will take some time and it can be easy to convince yourself that you are not making positive gains. Therefore, at the onset of your journey you will need to take baseline measurements to track the progress of your efforts.

Girth measurements will help you keep track of the changes in your body circumference. The intention of these measurements is to be fully aware of the direction you are moving; it’s easy to convince yourself that you’re not making headway. With regularly scheduled measurements you can assess your transformation and evaluate your course of action.

Are you fit or fat? What's your BMI (Body Mass Index)? Research has shown that BMI is highly correlated with the gold-standard approach for measuring body fat. BMI interprets relative height to weight ratio and is a simple way to screen who might be at greater risk of health problems due to their weight.

Visit the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website to easily calculate your BMI.

Slow and steady wins the race.

The number one mistake you want to avoid when exercising it is this, over doing it. If you push your body to hard, too fast, you’ll most likely injure yourself. Whether it’s muscle soreness, sprains, or strains, it could be enough to temporarily set you back or even worse, sideline you for good.

Keep in mind that every body is different. A co-worker might notice positive results of the walking program right away, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will too. Please don’t get discouraged. It might take longer than you like, but if you stay on track without over doing it, you’re going to reap benefits of bringing exercise into your daily routine.

Preventive care is one of the most important steps you can take to manage your health.

I am not a doctor, nor do I pretend to be. I steer clear of medical recommendations and will always defer any type of medical questions to the expert, your personal care physician.

Before embarking on any wellness plan you should schedule an appointment with your health care provider to discuss what screenings and exams you need. Your age, overall mental and physical condition, family history, lifestyle choices such as what you eat, how active you are, and whether you smoke are some of the factors that will impact your need for healthcare services.

Regular checkups can help you and your doctor identify lifestyle changes you can make to avoid certain conditions. Developing a strategic plan with clear objectives and following through with the recommended preventive services of your personal care physician are the keys to over-all well-being.

Motivation and sticking with it.

Being consistent and sticking to a routine will be the key to your success. The changes will not happen overnight; at times you will be overwhelmed at work and may feel that you don’t have the time. Please put one foot in front of the other; keep on keeping on.

By learning how to start an informal workplace walking program you will be building the foundation for living a more vibrant and healthy lifestyle 24/7.

I am a corporate wellness consultant. As a master yoga instructor, I support in-house wellness programs, seminars, trade shows and executive retreats. I help business leaders build and maintain physical and mental well-being. If you would like to learn more about offering a health and fitness program to your busy management team contact me at [email protected] or 386.871.0582


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