Does every employee in your workplace walk regularly?
There’d be some who’d rack up 10,000 steps before they even get to work, but then there’s others who could really do with some more physical activity.
Walking is the perfect exercise – it’s free, it requires no special skill, and you can do it almost anywhere, at any time, and fit it in whenever it’s handy. And the health and productivity benefits are huge. A 2011 research study found that employees who hit or exceeded 10,000 steps per day reported significant boosts in job satisfaction and productivity.
According to the Heart Foundation, employees with poor health behaviours take up to nine times the amount of illness-related absences when compared with healthy employees. Likewise, healthy employees are on average almost three times more productive than those who scored lowest on a health and wellness scale.
Regular walking can also:
- reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression
- increase immunity to all sorts of viruses and illnesses
- increase cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness
- reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
- better management of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes
How to do it
There are dozens of ways you can encourage your employees to start walking more. Depending on your budget and resources, you can invest in a fully managed campaign that’s done for you, such as Outback Walkabout or Fitness Challenge. Or, you can supplement with your own activities. Here are some ideas:
1. Organise walking groups
Bring together informal groups of employees who want to walk at the same time. There could be a group of those who want to walk at lunch-time, for example, or after work. Or, you have a group who want to power walk, versus those who want a slower pace. Nominate a group leader to deal with all the logistics.
2. Map out routes near your workplace
Use Google Maps to map out some good walking routes around your workplace. Show the route, and approximately how long it takes.
You could provide 20 minute, 40 minute and 60 minute options.
3. Show a map to alternate train stations
Similar to point 2, show your employees how they can walk to train stations (or bus or ferry stops) further away, and give approximate times.
4. Open up the stairs
If the stairs at your workplace are a bit dark and dingy, transform them into an exercise station. Get the lighting fixed, and put up some motivational posters (such as these!). Encourage Managers to use the stairs rather than the lifts, to lead by example. Just make sure you cover off all the WHS considerations first.