There’s a new program at my work to encourage health and fitness and overall wellness. They recently sent out an email asking people to nominate coworkers to be ambassadors and part of this committee to create a wellness campaign for all employees. I was nominated! In fact, the Assistant Director of my department nominated me. That was really cool.
I recently went to the first committee meeting and it was more about an introduction and going over processes for the next few months before the kickoff event. The leader is part of a private company that does analysis of companies and how healthy they are. In the last 50 years, healthcare costs have gone up in such a staggering number that companies are trying to find ways to get their employees healthier.
Where I work there is a gym with a few treadmills, ellipticals, lots of free weights and some weight machines. There’s a stairmaster, a bike and they also have classes during lunch (circuit training, yoga, and pilates). There is even a shower in the locker room in my building. The sad things is that the majority of employees do not use these things that they have access to.
When I was running a lot, I used to run during my lunch break. If it was raining I did the treadmill in the gym but usually I ran outside (the waterfront loop). I’d run it in about 45 minutes and then I had just enough time for a quick shower and I was back at my desk to eat by the time my 1 hour was up. Sure it was rushed, but I loved it! Not only did it break up the work day, it freed up my evenings for fun things with friends.
This is not a judgment in any way, just an observation and a common theme in America, honestly, but a lot of employees where I work are unhealthy. And I get it. It’s a sedentary job, a stressful job with a high burnout rate, and the temptations are everywhere. I’ve mentioned the Candy Room, coworkers bring in boxes of donuts, cookies, leftover cake from events, etc. There’s always SOME kind of temptation that is hard to resist. It’s even hard for me and I’m an active, fairly healthy person.
I understand why the company wants to implement this program. The private company organizing this campaign analyzed statistics on how many employees out of 4,500+ were on FMLA/Disability etc and the high rates of sick leave are staggering and costly! According to a healthcare survey, 44% of members do not meet the minimums for physical activity, 30% have borderline/high blood pressure, and 41% of people are obese. Those are some pretty big numbers. Nothing new to us, though, right? Didn’t the CDC just classify obesity as a disease?
Check out this 12 minute podcast (first 12 minutes) of This American Life: Ruining It For the Rest Of Us . I love This American Life but this particular episode was really interesting. It really is true that GOOD and BAD habits/attitudes are contagious. I hope that this program of positivity inspires my coworkers to get healthy–whatever that means for them. We’re not talking about a campaign to discourage or shame people, or a campaign that is going to get everyone to lose weight and run a marathon. How many times have I stressed the importance of realistic goals? What if your goal was simply to lower your blood pressure by a few points? That’s a fantastic goal and has nothing to do with the number on the scale!
I have a multiple page list of ideas for our next brainstorming session. I think a bike or walk challenge with prizes is motivating–gift cards to athletic stores, pedometers, gift certificates to healthy restaurants, free Weight Watchers sessions, the list is endless. There are so many cool things that could motivate people. The trick is to hang on to that motivation and not lose steam.
I’m REALLY excited about participating in this program. It’s something I feel passionate about and I have a lot of insight into the topics of weight loss, physical activity and fitness motivation.
We’re in the beginning stages of planning the campaign. I will periodically update you guys with interesting anecdotes, progress and planning for the kick-off campaign for better health! I was assigned to look into the calorie and activity logs, like MyFitnessPal, with three other group members and report back.
QUESTION: What kind of incentive could your employer propose that would motivate you and your coworkers to increase physical activity?