Encouraging Exercise at Work

More workplaces are realizing the importance of employees getting exercise during the workday. Science backs the idea that physical activity is a key business concern. After a quick look at a compelling study on the topic, we will give you a few steps you can take to promote exercise at your company.

Study: 96% more productivity loss in absence of exercise

Ray Merrill, PhD, a researcher at Brigham Young University, wanted to study the connection between health and productivity. Dr. Merrill looked at data on 19,803 office workers in three large companies at cities in different regions of the United States. The results are convincing that this wellness/work link is legitimate and strong. Here are three habits with their corresponding higher likelihood of dampened productivity:

• Unhealthy food choices: 66% higher

• Not enough produce or low-fat foods: 93% higher

• Daily exercise: 96% higher.

That’s right, nearly twice as many people report that they are not as productive as they usually are when they do not move around enough.

4 ways to encourage exercise at work

Solving this problem, helping workers stay healthy to become more productive, is challenging. Now, most of us actually do have time to exercise – the average American man and woman have 5.5 and 4.8 hours of "leisure" time per day, according to 2016 figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, since productivity is such a key business concern, it makes sense to figure out how to facilitate exercise at work so that it is likelier to happen consistently. Try these methods:

1.) Chair exercises – Breaking Muscle suggests a 10-minute routine at your desk that goes through the following moves: lateral and forward neck flexion; shoulder rolls; leg crossover stretches, leg kicks, single leg lifts, and circle leg lifts; triceps chair pushups; and calf raises. Suggest this plan or a similar one to employees.

2.) Sit-to-stand desks – A great way to get people performing exercise at work is to build an upward and downward movement into their desks. There are additional health benefits: according to Cornell University, standing reduces pressure on spinal discs by 40-90%.

3.) Exercise breaks – Hootsuite founder Ryan Holmes started to incorporate fitness into the company years ago, in part by allowing people the flexibility to work out during the day. Writing in Fortune, Holmes said that the company initiated a policy that allowed anyone to take an hour off work to exercise "provided it didn’t conflict with meetings and they made up the time (by having lunch at their desks, for instance)."

4.) Workout groups – You can build socializing and team-building into exercise at work for broader benefits. Try exercise groups, such as lunch-time walking groups and weekend volleyball groups.

Acquiring the right tools to facilitate movement

Are you looking for ways to encourage exercise at work among your employees? The above ideas should help. As indicated in the second point, you may want to consider sit-to-stand desks and otherwise incorporate ergonomics into your furniture choices.

At Beaux-Arts Group, we provide answers to complex workplace challenges such as ergonomics, technology, generational differences, corporate identity, and regulatory requirements. We "understand" space.