Interest in increasing physical exercise ranks nearly as high as weight management in employee interest and need. Ideas for building employee awareness and participation in physical activities follow:
Fitness classes in the worksite: Onsite exercise can be much more convenient for staff members. However, worksite classes require logistical planning and coordination with attention to details. Onsite classes are generally more feasible for larger businesses. As part of the steps in planning and assessment, talk with other Company Health Promotion Programs offering worksite classes. Ask what their experience has been like. Speak to potential vendors in the area as well. Find out what it would take to offer an onsite fitness class. YMCA’s, health clubs, and neighborhood recreation programs are great resources for this kind of discussion. It is also feasible to offer a “mini” introductory worksite class series. A mini series might consist of an introduction to a new physical exercise area. Workers are then expected to make the transition to home or neighborhood based programs.
Nerf Olympics: Nerf games are fun (and entertaining) activities that advocate movement, flexibility, stress reduction, and usually are a good laugh. When creating such an exercise consider setting up a “challenge” stations with various activities. Ideas for activities include hula hoop contests, Nerf basketball free throws, Nerf football tosses, Frisbee “golf”, jump rope, etc. The Wellness Team will lay out the course. Each colleague goes through the stations and gets a “gold” medal (you can buy these at party stores and toy stores inexpensively) for completing all of the stations (no matter how badly they perform). Begin each colleague at intervals allowing for smooth running, but expect high difficulty stations to be backed up. This delay can add to the fun and creates a ‘keystone cops’ scenario. Nerf Olympics is a great exercise to do with an audience, so advocate cheering coworkers.
Provide rewards and incentives to staff members who engage in aerobic exercise such as walking, running and bicycling on their own time (see goal setting program, offer points toward prizes, etc.).
Pass out maps of walking/jogging trails located near the workplace. Mark distances in steps and miles. Urge staff members to walk during lunch and/or break times. Post a steps accumulated map on a workplace wall where staff members can log their steps or miles.
Urge joggers, walkers, and those who enjoying other forms of exercise to form fitness groups to meet before work, during lunch, or after work.
Urge the use of stairs rather than elevators. Place bulletin boards, art contests, etc., in stairways.
Organize “Bike-to-Work” or Walk-to-Work week.
Provide five-minute desk stretching at the worksite. This can relieve repetitive motion concerns as well as eye and back strain.
Develop a personal challenge activity such as “Climb a Mountain” or “Swim a Sea”. This is an honor system program in which participating employees are awarded minutes, steps, or miles credit for cardiovascular exercise (swimming, walking, running, skiing, biking, stair stepping, aerobics, etc.). The object of this sort of challenge is to accumulate the equivalent mileage it would take to reach the top of a famous mountain, span a body of water (swim the Columbia River), or reach a distant city/county. Try personalizing the challenge as much as possible to individual interests and/or area geographical matches close to the worksite.
Collect a variety of exercise video or DVD tapes. Staff Members can either check out a tape for home use, or offer a group activity video class.
If it is not possible for employee to leave the building to work out at lunchtime, try instituting an in-house aerobic walking track for employee use in an unused part of the workplace for lunch, break or after hours use. An example of how this issue might be solved is the use of stationary bikes and other small exercise equipment provided for employee by some 911 call centers.
Sponsor a “Personal Best” Challenge”. Workers run, walk, bike, etc. their own personal best time. Repeat the personal best challenge each quarter to six months. Each time an employee improves, offer recognition and an appropriate award. Also, recognize those staff members who maintain their personal best in the same way. Encourage non-participating staff members to get involved. Assist these individuals in choosing an exercise that is comfortable and of interest for them, and one in which they can succeed and progress.
When you offer an introductory or other workplace exercise class or exercise, make sure the instructor can relate to the audience, and the audience can relate to the instructor. Have a Employee Health Promotion Program Committee member attend a current class by the selected instructor class prior to the instructor conducting a class at workplace. Also, consider the staff members who may be potentially attending the class. Sometimes larger and/or older exercise instructors are frequently better accepted by audiences who are similarly sized and aged.
Sponsor a themed “virtual” trek. Calculate the mileage for the proposed “trip” ahead of time. Be sure that the distance is appropriate for the number of expected participants and time for the event (six to eight weeks) works well. For longer programs, small teams can accumulate their mileage for the trip. Establish a reporting network. Display a map to track the trip. Chart the progress with stick pins, a magic marker, or a highlighter. Give a brief humorous fictional narrative of the trip, posting a new one each week. Include as many participants’ names as possible. Alternate posting humorous texts with health tips along the way. Give an incentive at the end of the trip.
Ideas For Physical Activity Themes:
Swim the Mississippi to the Mardi gras.
Take a tour to all Oregon counties.
Take a tour of Oregon from Enterprise to Brookings.
Run or walk around the world (25,000 miles).
Tour de France (take all summer)
Tour de France on a stationary bike (take all winter)
Climb Mount Everest (stairs or stair climbers). Target Sir Edmund Hilary’s birthday or the anniversary of the first conquest as a completion date.
Climb Mount Washington or Mt. Hood. Target President’s Day as a completion date.
Climb any significant mountain and tie it to any remotely related event.
Use time in exercise as a measurement for the contest rather than distance. This allows you to treat all forms of aerobic exercise more equitably.