When you are a business owner or managing a group of people, it is your job (and in your best interest) to make sure your employees are focused, reliable, and productive. Old wisdom dictates that an employee is most productive sitting at a desk, not socializing or taking breaks, and completely focusing on work. New wisdom and research, however, paints a different picture. Well-timed breaks and moderate physical activity throughout the workday can increase productivity, improve health, and boost moods of your employees.
It may not seem like the concern of the employer to make sure that employees exercise, but it can be extremely beneficial to create the opportunity for employees to do so during the workday.
Health and the Typical American Employee
The typical adult in the United States has a sedentary job. Sitting about eight hours per day at work and then again at home while watching TV, reading, etc. So much sitting is having negative effects on our health.
Sitting too much has several adverse effects for physical and mental health, including, but not limited to, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, weakened core and back muscles, heart disease, cancer, obesity, excess belly fat, chronic respiratory problems, and more. The statistics are staggering. More than 36% of adults in the United States are obese. More than 29 million have diabetes and 86 million more have prediabetes with an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes or other chronic illnesses.
Many Americans don’t get the recommended amount of weekly exercise ― 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity. Not getting enough exercise, not eating well, and sedentary careers are not good for the future of the American workforce.
Workplace Fitness Benefits
Life outside of work can be hectic and extremely busy. With lots of competing priorities ― from groceries and dinner to kids’ piano lessons and basketball practice ― exercise can fall to the wayside. The good news is that the recommended of weekly physical activity could fit into a daily lunch break.
If you offer a one-hour lunch break, an employee could utilize half of the break for exercise and the other half to eat. Or, if your daily lunch break is 30 minutes, the employees could exercise during that time and eat lunch while they work.
A 2011 study found that incorporating 150 minutes of exercise into the workday led to fewer employee absences. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2015 that employee absenteeism cost U.S. employers nearly $228 billion annually, that’s approximately $1,700 per employee.
Additionally, companies with workplace wellness and exercise programs report that the investment is worth it, as employees usually come back from exercising refreshed and focused and any time lost to exercising is made up for in increased productivity.
DIY Workplace Exercise
There are several ways you can encourage workplace exercise time. You don’t have to invest a lot of money in a new facility, fancy gym memberships, or employee time off—all you need is a bit of creativity, some flexibility, and a good attitude.
- Create a supportive and encouraging culture around health and wellness.
- Transform a space in your office to accommodate those who wish to exercise.
- Invest in some basic workout equipment like dumbbells, exercise bands, and a treadmill.
- Hold yoga or aerobic classes for free or at a reduced cost to employees. Classes can be held before or after work hours or during a lunch break.
- Instead of having sit-down meetings, try and have standing meetings or, even better, walking meetings.
- Allow your employees a flexible schedule to work out so they can attend a fitness class at a local gym.
Small investments of time, money, or both can have huge returns when it comes to health and wellness. The personal and professional lives of your employees will improve, productivity will increase, and your businesses bottom-line will see a positive difference.
Adult Obesity Facts. (2016, September 1). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
Greenwell, C. (2015, January 28). Worker illness and injury costs U.S. employers $225.8 billion annually. CDC Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.cdcfoundation.org/pr/2015/worker-illness-and-injury-costs-us-employers-225-billion-annually
Working to reverse the US epidemic at a glance 2016. (2016, July 25). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/diabetes.htm