How to Promote a Healthy & Active Working Culture
Technology has advanced so far that work sites, homes and public spaces have been re-engineered for comfort, making people move less and sit more. Today, the general population spends an average of 40 hours a week sitting, lying down or just expending very little energy. Being stagnant for long periods of time is physically and mentally draining, as this behavior does not generate the same amount of healthy energy we derive from being active.
Movement is needed in order to release “happy” chemicals in your brain known as dopamine. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, working out also eases stress by raising your heart rate, triggering a hormonal change that boosts your energy level and offers a sense of meditation. Physical activity is needed in every person’s life, but people often use the excuse that working long hours prevents them from getting necessary exercise time in during the day. To help employees reach their health goals and retain happiness, business leaders should kick-start a health program that involves simple physical activities such as a walk around the office or a nearby park during lunch.
In 2008 Dr. Marc Berman, a post-doctoral researcher, and a team from University of Michigan found that employees who took an average 50-minute walk on their lunch break improved their working memory span by 20 percent. Other studies, pertaining to the importance of taking physical breaks during work hours, have found that sitting down all day increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Being sedentary for prolonged periods of time can also compromise metabolic health.
With the increased focus on health and nutrition in society, it is very important to raise awareness in the office. Health of a business is interwoven with the well-being of its employees. Therefore, business leaders need programs that help inspire and motivate individuals to be active and make healthy choices.
Transforming office culture to an atmosphere that celebrates and recognizes healthy behavior contributes to employee contentment and productivity. Corporate wellness programs are specifically designed to provide consistent encouragement for employees to stay healthy and perform assigned tasks to the best of their ability, making them a beneficial addition to a company’s strategy.
Motivating more physical activity in the office can be as small as scheduling a weekly companywide lunch-break walk around the building or advocating employees to stop work sporadically and stretch for 10 minutes. One of the easiest approaches in promoting movement into an employee’s daily working life is by encouraging them to deliver messages to colleagues in person, rather than via email. Accomplishing those extra steps, especially if the employees need to walk upstairs, is an admirable first step in building the foundation for a physically active work culture.
Whether you encourage small physical activity, healthy snacks or implement a successful and motivational wellness program, it is important to enliven the workplace. Inspiring employees to focus on health will ultimately improve their job satisfaction, and boost retention rates for the corporation.