Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Corporate Fitness and March Basketball

This blog was written by Penny Pohlmann, MS. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Many of us have sedentary jobs and get very little physical activity, planned or otherwise. Additionally, it doesn’t help our waistlines that many of us prefer to spend our leisure time stagnant as well. With some planning and creativity, you can get your less-than-active hobbies moving.

Getting a Workout While Watching TV

It’s March, and I lovemarch madness college basketball, so for the next few weekends I could park myself on the couch for hours of entertainment and bliss without moving a muscle. However, I know that long periods of inactivity have dangerous consequences. How can I “squeeze” some activity into my basketball watching marathon?

I get into the action with this “game” I’ve created for myself. When my team makes a three-pointer, I do five push-ups. Free-throws equal five squats each. I stretch during time-outs, and for every 10 points my team scores, I hold the plank for one minute. By the end of the game, regardless of how well my team played, I’ve probably gotten quite a bit of activity.

Cue Yourself to Take Exercise Breaks at Home and Work

If your hobby isn’t already active like hiking or biking, what reminders or cues can you create to remind yourself to take an activity break? Maybe you can take a lap or two around the block at the end of each chapter you read in your novel. Perhaps you can take a break to play with your kids outside when you finish a page in your scrapbook.

This type of activity can also be included in your workday, too. In fact, employees who get more physical activity are more productive at work. A well-rounded corporate wellness program can help you determine how to get your employees more active each day.  

Topics: corporate wellness exercise at work exercise at home productivity staying active

Employee Health and Productivity Depend on Breaks

This blog was written by Fitness Staff. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

hectic work schedule, busy, employee stressThe e-mails are piling up, the phone is ringing off the hook, papers are stacked around you, and you are the go-to person at the office for all those who need a helping hand. While it may seem most productive for you to stay glued to your desk chair with your eyes fixed on the computer screen, it may actually not be the most productive choice after all. 

Just as your body needs rest after tiring physical activity, your mind needs breaks as well. In fact, your brain will be more likely to perform at an optimal level if it given rest breaks, just like your physical body performs best with adequate rest. Research has actually shown that employees who spend time daydreaming are more creative and better at generating ideas.

So, before responding to those e-mails, answering the phone calls, and being the helping hand for all, step away from the desk! Take a couple minutes to clear your head. Go for a walk, chat with a coworker, or eat lunch outside. Your body and mind will appreciate that rest break, but so will your business!

Topics: corporate wellness employee health productivity

The Organizational “Body”: Improved Employee Health

This blog was written by Bethany Garrity. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

leadership, corporate wellness, worksite wellnessWhen was the last time you did an organizational health checkup? If your organization were one body, what would its state of health be? How would you read its vital signs? Permit me this analogy for a moment: The CEO is the head, the brain, the vision. Your employees are the rest of the body: limbs, skin, muscles, organs, and senses.

Brain directs and body makes it go.

Your organizational body is only as effective, healthy, and vital as its weakest part. If some parts are ailing or unfit, all are affected. From hangnails to heart attacks, the effects can be minor or devastating, but they cannot be denied.

What are you doing to help your corporate body stay healthy and fit in every part?

Usually there are two reasons your employee body may not prioritize a health-preserving/enhancing lifestyle choice. Either they just don't know how, or there's an obstacle.

Ignorance can be overcome by education―a connection with a knowledgeable staff member at your corporate fitness center, for example. And most often, an early encouraging outcome will spur your worker into action toward greater goals.

Obstacles can be many, and some of those are well beyond the organization. But with employees spending more than half of their waking hours at work, the employer has a prime opportunity to effect healthy change for its employees. 

Support is mission-critical. At the right place and time, it makes all the difference.

Topics: corporate wellness employee health corporate fitness control healthcare costs productivity businesses

Corporate Wellness: Rewarding Healthy Employee Behavior

reward, incentive, employee healthThis blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

One commonly known benefit of corporate fitness centers is that when employees are encouraged to maintain healthy lifestyles, the company’s total costs for medical insurance and absenteeism decrease. Some agencies have chosen to take this one step further and pay for their employees to exercise.

Some state agencies in Kentucky have chosen to offer paid exercise breaks. Leaders in these organizations don’t feel like they are losing productivity because, “Often these employees are discussing work issues while they are exercising.” They also see a boost in these individuals’ morale. The amount of time that employees are permitted to exercise on the clock ranges from 90 minutes to five hours per week, depending on the agency.

Other organizations have similar motives, but different ways of compensating employees for their healthy habits. One well-known bank offers employees cash for various wellness activities. Fitting in at least one workout per month earns employees $20, taking a wellness assessment earns $50, and completing blood work or a physical earns $25 each. This particular company also pays employees for preventive care, for example flu shots and mammograms. The reward money is capped at $200 per employee.

Does your company have a system to reimburse employees for their time spent exercising or otherwise bettering their health? Or perhaps a money incentive for those who utilize the corporate fitness center?

Topics: corporate wellness exercise at work disease prevention productivity

Is Daylight Saving Time Hazardous to Employee Health?

This blog was written by Dan Walker. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

corporate wellness, sleepy, daylight savings timeMany things in life can be hazardous to your health, such as smoking, drunk driving, and too much sun exposure. Many of these things remain in your control, fortunately, putting your health in your hands.

One thing you can’t control, though, that can potentially cause problems is daylight saving time, surprisingly enough. No one minds the extra hour of sleep that accompanies it in the fall, but the hour that is lost in the spring is a different story.

A recent study at Loyola University found that heart attacks are more common on the first Monday of daylight saving time, as well as traffic accidents and injuries in the workplace. Many people already have trouble sleeping, so losing one more hour of sleep time can make it hard for the first few days or weeks afterwards.

Here are some tips to help you better cope with the time change next time around.

  • Go to bed and wake up a little earlier in the days leading up to the change so it won’t come as such a shock.
  • Expose your body to light each morning after the change to help adjust your body’s sleep/wake cycle.
  • Try not to schedule important tasks and projects that require your full attention until a few days after the change if you are worried you might be sleep deprived.

Along with these tips, remember that getting enough sleep each night is crucial to employee health year round. If you are struggling to get in seven to eight hours nightly, check out local resources and think about seeing your doctor to discuss your options. You can’t afford not to.

Topics: corporate wellness employee health productivity

Can a Clean Desk Improve Employee Health and Productivity?

This blog was written by Penny Pohlmann, MS. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Is your desk buried under a pile of paper, file folders, cords, and sticky notes? I know my desk can get a little out of control when class plans, forms, and notes start to pile up. In order to regain that sense of control and focus when my desk gets out of control, I take a few minutes to straighten things up a bit.

Did you know the state of your desk can actually affect your health and productivity at work? Researchers conducted a study of 2,000 office workers and identified the condition of IDS. Yes, IDS stands for Irritable Desk Syndrome, which is caused by a cluttered, messy, and poorly arranged desk. It can cause distractions and stress as well as back and neck pain.

Desk Organization Tips

Invest in employee health, sanity, and productivity at work and encourage them to spend some time cleaning and organizing their workspace. Consider these desk organization tips:

work space2

  • Minimize visual distractions. Choose a
    few favorite pictures, notes, or figurines and display them neatly so
    that you can admire them from time to time.
  • Increase usable desk space. Throw away or
    file unneeded documents taking up space in your work area. (Don’t forget the floor and shelves,
  • Tidy up. A neat space creates an atmosphere without distractions and stress, meaning you stay focused and on task.
  • Sanitize. Wipe down your desk, phone, keyboard, and any other frequently touched surfaces to prevent the breeding and spreading of bacteria that could make you sick.

A tidy workspace tells your coworkers, managers, and clients you are organized and have your business in order.

Ergonomic Adjustment

Do you provide a corporate fitness center at your office? Ask the managers of the fitness center to provide a "Lunch and Learn" or demonstration about proper desk ergonomics to ensure that chair height and computer screen, keyboard, and mouse placement are optimal for minimizing neck, back, and joint pain.


Topics: corporate wellness employee health productivity

Do Flexible Work Conditions Make for Better Employee Health?

How many times have you told yourself that if you were only allowed some flexibility at work, you could actually utilize the worksite fitness center, participate in a corporate wellness program, or be able to reduce your stress simply by walking outside? It has been found time and time again that worksites that allow flexible arrangements and promote healthier workplaces benefit in more ways than one.

The Ways Flexibility Improves Employee Health

corporate wellness in meetingsFlexible working conditions not only have been found to reduce employee blood pressure and absences due to illness, but can increase job performance, productivity, and overall morale. Additionally, giving employees more control over their schedules has been shown to have positive effects on mental health, sleep duration, sleep quality, alertness at work, and heart rate.

Ask for Some Work Schedule Flexibility

If you are employed by a company that offers flexible schedules, take advantage of it! However, if you don’t have this option, speak with those in charge of scheduling and make a valiant attempt to work something out.

Who wouldn’t want to improve their mental and physical health? If a little flexibility can help you feel better and work more efficiently, it's a win-win proposition.

Looking for more ways to improve your health? Subscribe to our blog for regular updates on all things corporate fitness!

Like what you just read? Click here to subscribe to the blog.

Topics: corporate wellness employee health productivity health culture improve absenteeism

Employee Health: Aerobic Exercise Improves Sleep

This blog was written by Lisa Larkin. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Sleeping at Desk resized 600Sleep and exercise can be a vicious cycle. The more tired you are, the less motivation you have to exercise. Working in a corporate fitness program, I see a lot of tired and stressed people. The onsite fitness facility seems to help improve their moods.

When I’m tired, the last thing I feel like doing is exercising. But then I feel worse because I didn’t exercise. Even getting up and going for a 15-minute walk can help to improve your mood, stress level, confidence, and sleep patterns. Most people will tell you they feel better after exercise. 

Physical activity can help to clear your mind and concentrate better at work, which will help you sleep better at night, too.

Even though sleep is important for health and daily functioning, the average person doesn’t get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night. So, why not get up and start exercising now to help you sleep longer and better tonight?

Topics: exercise at work corporate fitness exercise at home productivity

Reward Employee Health in 2011

This blog was written by Kara Gootee. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

With the new year, many individuals make resolutions that quickly fall by the wayside. Statistics show that 75% of people keep chugging after the first week, and motivation starts decreasing. Start the year off right by rewarding employees for working toward a healthier lifestyle.

Offer Corporate Wellness Incentives

Corporate wellness programming is on the rise, and while company results vary, the return on investment is encouraging. Rewarding employees with the simplest prizes can help keep them on track to maintaining a healthier lifestyle, which in turn reduces health care costs and increases productivity for your company.

Ways to Reward Healthy Employees

Here are some ways to reward employees:describe the image

  • Small tokens: Everyone loves free stuff. Try items such as key chains, mouse pads, and water bottles.
  • Gift cards: Large amounts aren’t necessary. Who wouldn’t like having a $5–$10 gift card to Subway or Starbucks?
  • Point systems: By developing point systems for reaching wellness goals, employees can earn points throughout the year to be put toward larger prize items, or even toward a flexible benefits account.

Rewarding is easy. Everyone likes to know that their hard work is being noticed. Treat your employees for being healthy by encouraging worksite wellness.

In what ways are you recognizing employee efforts to become healthy?

Topics: corporate wellness employee health motivation productivity corporate rewards

Corporate Fitness Programs Can Boost Employee Creativity

Employers are concerned with the ROI of corporate health wellness programs—and they should be. Why on earth would an organization put valuable resources toward strategies that don’t work for their business?

Are Brainstorming Meetings the Best Way to Foster Creativity?

If you're with me on the "don't throw money out the window" approach, let's take a quick look away from employee health and wellness. Let's focus instead on a corporate convention: the brainstorming meeting. Think conference room, Sharpies, flipcharts, and fresh fruit. (You do have fresh fruit at your meetings, right?!) In the brainstorming meeting, the company’s best thinkers pull together intellectually to flesh out ideas for the business's future. How much money does your company spend on brainstorming meetings in terms of staff time, office supplies, snacks, and overhead?

BrainstormingTurns out that corporate fitness programs might have a leg up on those Sharpies. According to a recent article in Newsweek, there are actually proven strategies for getting creative juices flowing, and traditional group brainstorming sessions aren’t on the list.

Exercise, it turns out, can be an effective brainstorming strategy. Up to 30 minutes of aerobic activity (like walking) can get those creative juices flowing. But there is one caveat: Exercise improves creativity only for people who are already fit.

Corporate Fitness Programs Have Many Benefits

Get your employees exercising now and it will save you money by helping control health care costs, decreasing absenteeism, improving productivity, and creating greater loyalty. In addition, your employees will be better thinkers who will keep your organization ahead of the pack.

How are you encouraging regular exercise in the workplace?

Topics: corporate wellness exercise at work control healthcare costs productivity