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Move More, Be Healthier: How to Support Activity in Today’s Work Environment
By Terri Dougherty

Physical activity makes a significant impact on worker health, as being active helps prevent costly chronic conditions and relieves stress. A recent study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that workers with higher levels of physical activity report higher work engagement.
In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that physical activity:
  • Reduces feelings of depression
  • Improves stamina
  • Lowers the risk for high blood pressure, stroke, and high cholesterol
  • Reduces the risk for obesity (especially when combined with a healthy diet)
The modern workplace

Your workplace physical activity strategies may need a reboot, however, as today’s workforce often includes workers who are on-site, remote, or a combination of the two. To adjust your support for an active workforce, meet workers where they are.

At the office
  • Improve stairway access, lighting, landscaping, and sidewalks.
  • Look for ways to support employees who walk or bike to work. Provide paths, bike racks, and showers.
  • Provide an on-site workout facility, outdoor walking path, or both.
Remote
  • Offer health coaching via teleconference.
  • Provide links to guided online workouts.
  • Encourage workers to create a workday schedule that includes time to move.
Anywhere
  • Choose wellness champions who can support their peers.
  • Model healthy behavior. Have leaders take part in wellness activities.
  • Use educational campaigns to raise awareness of wellness options.
  • Support biking and hiking trails in communities where your employees live and work.
  • Encourage workers to move more. Here are some ideas:
    • Go for a brief walk or climb a set of stairs.
    • Jog or march in place.
    • Do some squats and arm circles.
    • Use a sit/stand workstation, and alternate between sitting and standing every half hour or so.
    • Do a few desktop push-ups: Lean against a desk with straight arms, lower the body to the desk, and push back up.
    • Try some calf raises: Hold on to a chair or desk, rise onto toes, and then lower heels to the floor.
    • Lunge: Take a step forward, bend the knee (keeping it in line with the toes). Then step back to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg.
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