Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Employee Health Tip: Get Fit by Running or Walking with Your Dog

Employee Health Can Increase With Pets HealthAs employee waistlines expand, so do their pets. The good news is that man’s best friend can be just the motivation and camaraderie your employees need to jump-start a fitness routine that can benefit both.

According to a 2004 study by the Wellness Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, dogs and their owners lose weight and stay trim by dieting and exercising together. A few key preparation steps will have your employees walking and jogging with their four-legged friend in no time:

Help Your Employees Prepare for Fitness by Preparing Their "Paws"

Encourage employees to visit a running/walking specialty footwear store for proper shoes and socks. Everyone has a different gait, so it is important to purchase the right shoes. A pooch's paws are just as important. Some surfaces such as gravel, rock, and even concrete can be hard on a dog's paws. Check your dog's footpads when you return from your workout and adjust your runs accordingly.

Get Employees and Pets to Gear Up Appropriately for Outdoor Exercise

Instruct employes to wear running-specific clothing that wicks moisture away from the body and fits comfortably. For their furry pal, use a body harness and run-specific leash. This will help the dog’s comfort level during the workout and help him associate the leash and harness with serious running, not stopping to smell the roses. Both dogs and their owners should have water readily available, as well as reflective clothing or a blinking dog tag.

Share the Benefits of Starting Slow and Establishing a Routine

Employees should start off slow and warm up prior to their workout. This will prepare them and their dog's muscles for the upcoming workout and reduce the risk of injury. When walking or jogging, they should start with a slow and steady pace. If either one shows any changes in gait, slow down or end the workout. It may mean they're going too fast or too far for their current fitness level. Employees should also keep the age and breed of their dog in mind when determining the pace and distance for their run. They should always keep their dog at their side to avoid dangerous falls.

Dogs thrive on routine and so do humans. So use the opportunity to encourage employee health by teaching the importance of building a routine. Employess should keep their workouts three to five days per week. Not only will this give them a slimmer waistline and improve your corporations financial waistline, too, but they’ll gain some bonding-time with their pet.

Topics: healthy workforce overweight employees motivation exercise at home

Can Short Workouts Improve Employee Health?

Employee Exercise BreakHave you ever heard the recommendation that healthy adults should try to do 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise most days of the week to help maintain health and reduce the risk of heart disease? If you want to lose weight, you'll need to tack on an additional 30 to 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise most days of the week. But who has time for even 30 minutes of exercise?

To Improve Company Health Culture, Encourage Short Spurts of Exercise

Although it's ideal to aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, it's not always possible or practical. Between commutes, packed work schedules, and other demands on our lives, many employees find it difficult to fit in three meals in a day, much less 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise.

So, if employees can't exercise at least 30 minutes at a time, should they skip it altogether? The answer is definitely no. Physical activity has benefits even if you can only do it in 10- or 15-minute segments.

Short Bursts of Exercise Benefit Employee Health By:

Improving Employee Cardiovascular Fitness

Research has shown that even 10 to 15 minutes of walking at 2 to 3 mph can improve cardiovascular fitness. This means employees can improve their heart's ability to pump blood and oxygen to the rest of their body. People who currently have a sedentary lifestyle see this benefit most.

Boosting Employee's Calorie Burn

Ten minutes of exercise can give your employee's metabolism a boost for up to an hour.

Lowering Employee Blood Pressure

Hypertension Journal reports that individuals can decrease their blood pressure for several hours by taking a few short, brisk walks each day. In fact, individuals can lower it for 11 hours after completing four 10-minute walks.

Relieving Stress

Exercise, even if only for a short period of time, increases endorphins (the feel-good hormone), decreases cortisol (the stress hormone), and provides an outlet for frustrations.

Giving Employee Brains a Much-Needed Break

Employees can clear their head and prepare to focus on the next task at hand after only 10 minutes of exercise. Based on the answers to a questionnaire, study participants said a 10-minute bike ride helped them "feel more clear-headed" and "reduced feelings of fatigue."

Controling Cholesterol

Ten minutes of activity can help lower triglycerides and raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

Where Does Your Company Go From Here?

Encourage employees to look for opportunities to exercise in three or four 10-minute segments. This could mean giving them a few minutes of paid time during their lunch break to exercise, or encouraging a 10-minute walk before they go into their afternoon commute.

Consider this fact: People who begin a routine of regular physical activity by walking only 10 minutes a day are more likely to stick to the routine and add to it than are new exercisers who start with a 30-minute-per-day goal.

Topics: exercise at work employee health healthy workforce

Investing in Corporate Fitness Management Can Boost Productivity


Employee productivity increases with exerciseYou've had your morning coffee and breakfast and you're ready to begin your workday. You plop down at your desk to scan through the 50 e-mails you received since you shut down your computer last night. By the time you finish, more than an hour has passed, you've answered five calls, and your boss is begging for your help with an agenda for a last-minute meeting.

To top it off, stress is setting in. Guess what? Your brain is already fried and your productivity for the day will probably be minimal.

Exercise at Work Is the Answer

What if your company offered employees 30 paid minutes each day to exercise in its corporate fitness center? Would employee productivity increase? Studies show it would. Exercise has positive effects on the brain. It stimulates the brain and nervous system, decreases stress, and increases performance. I don't know of a single CEO who wouldn't want his or her staff performing better on the job. Fewer mistakes equals more company return, happier bosses, and happier employees.

Increased Productivity Can Outweigh the Cost of a Corporate Fitness Program

You're probably wondering whether the benefits of opening a corporate fitness center outweigh the cost. The right type of managed facility would. Many corporate fitness centers have trainers who can help individuals reach their fitness and health goals, which means lower insurance costs, fewer sick days, and increased productivity. Corporations can reap many benefits from having a corporate fitness or wellness center. 

What's Your Next Step?

Convince company decision-makers to consider the benefits of allowing employees to exercise on company time. If a worksite fitness center seems out of reach, suggest a company-wide walking program or an exercise class at work. Become a healthy workplace advocate by providing articles and research that show how productivity and efficiency increase with employee exercise (see above).

Imagine the positive change that could occur for you and your fellow employees if your company took even a few steps toward better workplace health!

Topics: exercise at work corporate fitness program healthy workforce corporate fitness business fitness solutions control healthcare costs productivity

Three Reasons to Get Social with Your Wellness Program

employee wellness and social mediaMost employers have blocked social networking sites like Facebook on their company computers while simultaneously establishing robust social media policies. It’s not surprising; the reasons to block social media content from company computers are many.

Social Media and Workplace Wellness

The truth is, your workforce is still out there playing FarmVille, tweeting on Twitter, and sharing YouTube content. Maybe it’s time to get social with your employee wellness program, by not only allowing social media use but also by creating a social media presence for your wellness program.

Top Three Reasons to Revisit Social Media Policies

  1. Your employees are already out there. According to Cisco’s 2010 Midyear Security Report, an alarming 50 percent of surveyed employees admitted to surfing the web socially even though they knew it was against company policy. In addition, 27 percent of respondents took matters into their own hands by reconfiguring the settings on company computers to allow access to previously blocked content.
  2. Research tells us social networks matter. The Framingham Heart Study is one of the most well-known, comprehensive health studies in the industry. It followed, among other things, the impact of social networks on tobacco use and obesity trends from 1971 to 2003. It turns out that social networks have a very powerful influence on whether and how individuals will change health behavior.
  3. Quiet leaders might surface through social media. We’re always talking about the importance of employee champions for your wellness program. It’s common for those individuals to take the superhero form of the already-in-shape and always-eats-right marathon runner who wants to encourage her coworkers to be like her. Social media allows the quiet champions—the unassuming former smoker, or the less obvious heart-attack-waiting-to-happen who made small changes over time to improve his health—a platform to speak out, encourage, and quietly motivate their colleagues to take baby steps toward improving health.

Consider How The Good Side of Social Media Can Work for Your Corporate Wellness Initiatives

Using social media to promote your employee wellness program is hard for most executives to buy into because of the productivity concerns. However, this free communication and sharing opportunity might provide more benefit than you expect. Your employees are already out there socializing. Why not meet them where they are with the messages you want them to hear?

Topics: corporate wellness employee health healthy workforce health culture social media