The Right Mentality for a Physically Active Workplace July 30th, 2010, by Ken Buckley

A large part of incorporating physical activity into a corporate health program is addressing pre-conceived conceptions. Positive changes require positive attitude, and when employees are sedentary for years they often form negative thought patterns about themselves and their capacity to be fit and healthy.

So much of the media these days portrays fitness as something for athletes and celebrities that undertake gruelling gym routines and run marathons to stay in shape, and while these are great avenues for fitness, they aren’t for everyone.

The problem is that a sedentary lifestyle is not just physically but mentally ingrained and addressing this mentality is just as important as providing opportunities to exercise. The good news is that if we can address these negative attitudes we are half way there.

Physical Activity Should be Convenient

The Australian National Physical Activity Survey states that an individual should partake in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity spread over at least five sessions a week.

That’s 30 minutes or less if it’s broken up over more than 5 days a week, and a much less daunting proposition than the 0 to 60 fitness regimes that people commonly commence. When someone realises they can achieve fantastic health outcomes from something they can easily fit into their daily routine they start to feel more positive.

Physical Activity Should be Enjoyable

When it comes to sticking to an exercise routine, how enjoyable a person finds it is a determining factor. While some people enjoy a brisk walk in the park, others may look forwards to a latin dance class, and some people may find they just love skipping the traffic jam and cycling in to work.

Surveying employees on their interests and attitudes to physical activity is a great way to begin, and then initiatives can be designed to fit specific interests. A range of these may include:

  • Walking programs to encourage the minimum 10 000 steps a day (Ask us about our Outback Walkabout).
  • Many councils offer inexpensive Tai-Chi courses in local parks before work. They’re a great stress buster as well as an excellent form of exercise.
  • Other companies implement lunch time yoga and pilates to provide a cost effective and time efficient opportunity to participate with colleagues.
  • Dance classes are a fun way to get fit and are available in a range of styles from latin to tap to belly dancing. Find a local class and ask for some brochures or include the details in the company newsletter.
  • Organise a company picnic that includes a nature hike or other outdoor activities such as rock climbing or a ropes course. This can be a great team building exercise too.
  • Team fitness challenges either online or leading up to a major event  are good opportunities to not only encourage exercise participation but support staff through a the motivation process of continued behaviour with a team aspect.
  • If your workplace is close to the coast, many surf schools cater for corporate groups. Organising a weekend class is a great way to promote physical activity and makes for a morale-boosting day out.
  • Set up a workplace gardening project that employees can work on and enjoy during breaks.

These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg, so survey employees and see what your area has to offer. The main point is to develop a positive attitude to physical activity and to suggest activities that they will look forward to doing most days of the week. Make it fun and make it convenient and the positive health benefits will follow.

For more information on Physical Activity Program, and Corporate Health Programs contact Healthworks on 1300 90 10 90 (International: IDD 61-2-9954-1888 ) and be sure to quote: “post421” for eligibility of Healthworks latest online offers and Corporate Health initiatives.

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