Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Exercising at work - use music to move more


Working Out with MusicI have always wondered how people can exercise without music. Music is one of the main reasons I exercise! When I get a break at work or on a Saturday morning, I look forward to listening to my music while I burn a few calories.

Working in onsite corporate fitness management, I see a lot of different types of people on a daily basis. While some members want only the TV on for noise, most have their own iPods and headphones so they can hear whatever type of music motivates them. Sometimes, while I’m looking out the window in my office watching people work out, I try to imagine what type of music they are listening to. I think it’s entertaining because I’m sure most of the time I’m way off.

Music Can Help Your Workout

I personally find music very motivating. It helps to take my mind off the sweat running in my eyes and my lower-body muscles fatiguing out. I can also play mind games with myself using my music as motivation. For example, I will speed up the treadmill or increase the resistance on the elliptical for the length of the song. This helps me to work harder and in turn burn more calories.

Music Tempo Can Affect Your Workout

I have discovered that I need to have mostly upbeat music because I move to the tempo of the song. For example, on the stair climber I find myself slowing down or speeding up according to the beat of the music. That’s why most group fitness CDs have warm-up and cool-down songs. This helps to get the body and brain in the mode to exercise and then to relax afterward.

Your Music Challenge

Discover tunes that motivate you and make a playlist that includes slower tempos for warm up and cool down and faster tempos for working hard and burning calories. (Add links to some sample playlists).

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Are Treadmill Walkstations a Valid Workplace Wellness Solution?

corporate exercise workstationAs a health and fitness specialist in a corporate wellness center, it's not very often that I venture out into other buildings on our company's campus. However, a few months ago on one such trip, I saw a treadmill in the middle of a cubicle area. I did a double-take and realized this was a walkstation, a treadmill with attached desk space and a laptop dock.

Now, personally, I find it difficult to read a magazine while exercising, let alone plug away at data or send thoughtful, grammatically correct e-mails, so my gut instinct was that this was a case where multitasking yields fewer benefits than performing both things separately.

What the Employees Think About Walkstations as a Work Exercise Option

I decided to ask employees for first-hand comments. Here is a synopsis from one regular user:

  • Pros: It provides a change of pace to work routine; allows an employee to stretch his or her legs and get some activity while continuing to be productive; provides an energy boost when things begin to drag during the day.
  • Cons: It is difficult to do tasks that require a lot of computer mouse movement; once the treadmill reaches a speed of 1.5 mph, it is hard to do much besides read e-mail; there is often a self-conscious feeling of being on display, as this is a relatively new concept; the walkstation can be noisy for others working nearby.

This particular employee commented that he experiences more energizing and stretching effects simply by periodically standing up from his desk.

Another employee made remarks that were quite contrary to my assumptions about the walkstation. She said it forces her to focus on the task at hand and eliminates the distractions of the phone and people stopping by her office. She also said, rather shockingly, that her only complaint was the treadmill was too slow—the speed is capped at 2 mph.

One Professional Opinion on The Matter

I am concerned about safety and ergonomics. To my knowledge, this particular walkstation did not have the capability to adjust the computer screen to eye level, thus increasing the chance for neck strain and shoulder discomfort. In fact, the second employee also stated that after an hour of use, her lower back began to hurt.

I'm sure much of the walkstation debate depends on how coordinated and focused the user is, on or off a treadmill. If anything, these are best for very short periods of use. However, I'm not convinced that this invention increases workplace productivity or employee wellness.

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Gadgets That Help Manage Employee Health One Step at a Time

employee health tracking deviceA good way for employees to measure their fitness progress is with portable tracking devices. These can range from the traditional pedometer to more advanced equipment.

Pedometers To Track Employee Health Progress

Pedometers come in all shapes and sizes. Enter "pedometer" into the Amazon search bar and you'll pull up 1,711 different options. Some measure only steps, whereas others have additional bells and whistles. Pedometers range in price from $4 to around $60.

Other High-Tech Employee Health Tracking Tools

In the last year, a new fitness-tracking tool has come on the market. Fitbit is a handy little gadget that clips onto your waistband like a pedometer. However, this high-tech tool tracks more than a typical pedometer by measuring calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled, and sleep quality. You can link the unit to your computer and store your data on Fitbit's robust tracking site. You can also join Fitbit's communities, follow its blog, and track other health markers.

At $99 per unit, the gadget is less expensive than the popular iPod nano and provides significant personal logging capabilities to track progress.

How Small Companies Can Use High-Tech Tools In Workplace Wellness Campaigns

Small employers: The Fitbit might provide a unique tool for your workforce to start moving more. Using the website tools connected with the device, you could easily build a workplace fitness program on which to base company wellness rewards.

Topics: exercise at work corporate fitness program corporate rewards technology