Tips for Creating a Workplace that Supports Healthy, Active Employees
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Tips for Creating a Workplace that Supports Healthy, Active Employees

It goes without saying that being active is important for a healthy body and a healthy mind.

Unfortunately the sedentary nature of many work environments can be barrier to getting the physical activity you and your employees need to reduce stress, increase energy, and reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases.

However, creating a healthy, active workplace for your employees can be much easier than you think.

Below are some easy, low cost ideas for supporting your employees in getting and staying active. These ideas are organized into three different strategies for creating a health workplace: Educate, Act and Support. Consider ideas from each of these approaches:

Strategy #1: Educate

Provide opportunities for employees to learn more about the benefits of physical activity:

  • Post information about the importance of physical activity on bulletin boards. Free information and handouts are available from the physical activity module on the WellnessFits website.
  • Include information on the importance of physical activity in short articles for internal newsletters, staff emails or pay cheque inserts. Articles and stories are available through HealthyFamilies BC’s blogs and Twitter feeds.
  • Promote the Physical Activity Line, a free telephone service that provides advice and information from Certified Exercise Physiologists to get you and your employees moving.
  • Organize “Lunch and Learn” sessions on the importance of regular physical activity. Provide a list of suggested topics to spark discussion, such as injury prevention, choosing proper footwear, setting goals, etc.

Strategy #2: Act

Create opportunities for your employees to be more active at work:

  • Organize a physical activity challenge. WellnessFits provides a free, ready to use six week challenge that brings employees together to encourage physical activity and creates a supportive workplace environment for activity at work. Participants earn points for the number of minutes of physical activity they do each week, and can earn bonus points by participating in team physical activity events.
  • Organize a walking club. The Walk BC website offers tools and resources to help you form a workplace walking program. The site also has interactive maps so you can see your nearby recreation facilities and walking areas.
  • Participate in Bike To Work Week. This campaign promotes commuter cycling. An online tracking system allows participants to log how many kilometers they have cycled.
  • Map several walking routes of varying lengths (e.g., 10 minutes, 15 minutes etc.) inside or outside your workplace and encourage employees to hold walking meetings.
  • Encourage staff to take a mid-morning or afternoon “active” break.
  • Post a list of upcoming local run/walk events and encourage employees to participate.
  • Organize a company sports day or picnic with physical games and activities.

Strategy #3: Support

Creating lasting positive change requires creating a work environment that supports your employees in getting and staying active:

  • Post reminders to take the stairs at the entrance to elevators.
  • Promote active commuting (e.g., walking, cycling, jogging, in-line skating) to work. Support a more flexible dress code and give staff information about safe and efficient routes to work.
  • Support flexible working hours to allow employees to take advantage of physical activity opportunities. Consider allowing individuals to take an extra half hour twice a week at lunch to walk, swim, attend a fitness class, etc.
  • Offer incentives and recognition to those employees who are physically active and/or formally registered in any workplace physical activity opportunities.
  • Establish a stretch break as part of the start to each workday or shift.
  • Establish a buddy system. Post a sign-up board where staff can join a group or find a buddy to participate in activities they enjoy.

Interested in getting more tips and ideas for creating a healthy workplace? Visit wellnessfits.ca for more information.

About WellnessFits

WellnessFits was a program delivered by the Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon, in partnership with HealthyFamilies BC. It provided businesses with the tools and personalized support to improve employee health and reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. To learn more about a relevant current program visit: https://healthywork.ca/