It’s true that being physically fit can help you look better, but in the workplace, it goes so much deeper than what’s on the surface. People who exercise regularly are also less likely to develop heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers, and they experience better moods, reminds the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – meaning healthy employees will tend to get sick less often and be more productive overall.
If your company culture needs an infusion of health and fitness, here are some ways to get started.
1. Get help from up top
The first step to take is to get as much help as you can from the higher-ups in your company. In the best case scenario, you’ll get your boss to assign you as the fitness coordinator (which could prove your worthiness as a future company leader) and give you a budget to promote fitness in the workplace. Even if he’s not forthcoming with the funds, having your boss endorse your efforts and share his support with the rest of the staff can lend legitimacy to the effort. And, of course, also ask him to participate, since that can encourage others to participate as well.
2. Look for resources from your insurance company
Your company’s insurance provider may have resources available to help you along as well. They may have resources such as brochures or teaching materials that can help you set up a workplace wellness program. They may also offer your company discounts on its insurance premiums for setting up said wellness program in the office. Talk to your company’s human resources officer for guidance on that process, as well as guidance about what you can and can’t do in the workplace in terms of formal exercise programs.
3. Lead by example
You don’t have to start big to get a fitness program going in your office, either. Even if your boss is not on board, there’s nothing stopping you from organizing a walking group that meets during the lunch hour or inviting a group of people to your fitness class after work. Start with one or two enthusiastic participants and, over time, invite those people to invite more people. Bit by bit, you’ll start to build a culture of health and fitness in the workplace.
4. Schedule group activities
Once you have some momentum going, organize some more formal activities to go along with company activities that are already happening. Start your company picnic with a group kayaking session, for example, or organize a roller-skating party instead of another night at the bar. If your bosses are willing to let you use office space, invite a fitness professional such as a Zumba instructor or a jogging coach into the office for a few sessions. You might even bring in a health coach who can work with employees one-on-one and help them develop fitness goals – something that’s ideally free for your co-workers. Ask your boss to attend to encourage others to participate.
5. Share how much fun you're having
Create a bulletin board or even a Facebook page that promotes the health and fitness initiative in your workplace. Post photos of fun activities you’ve done, and share information about dates and times that you meet to exercise together. This can encourage new employees or those who have been on the fence to join in.
In addition, your bulletin board can include tips for simple office workouts, contact information for local gyms or posters that talk about the importance of regular exercise.
6. Sign up for community events
Joining a local walkathon or a fun run as a group can be another way to get your co-workers to participate, and also to experience the wide world of fitness that’s out there. Not only that, but it can help raise your company profile and help spread the word about your company culture of health and fitness. When prospective employees see your company employees participating, they’ll get the sense that your company promotes fitness, which could encourage them to seek a job there.
Whether you have the support of your bosses or not, encouraging a healthier, fitter workplace doesn’t have to be a monumental endeavor. Start with yourself, build up to a small group of friends, and then see how it goes from there. In the worst case scenario, you have the chance to be healthier, happier and more productive – which can definitely help your career.