Fit and healthy at the office: 5 ideas for summer wellness
By: Jennie Overton
Work and play don’t have to be exclusive – especially when “play” involves getting fit and eating right. Old-school ways of thinking would have us cooped up in the office, staring out the window at beautiful sunny days and longing to head outside. Sadly, that’s not uncommon, as only 28 percent of office workers take breaks away from their desk – an unfortunate statistic, especially during the summer! And particularly since taking breaks, even just for 15-20 minutes, has been proven to sustain concentration and energy levels throughout the day – while NOT taking breaks reduces our ability to be creative.
So give your employees a break – and make it a healthy one. Here are some of our favorite fun ways to stay fit and healthy at the office during the warm weather months:
1. Summer strides
Studies have shown that a walk in a nearby park refreshes our attention span so we can return to work with a clear mind and greater focus. So offer a regular walk where employees meet at a designated location and head out for 30 minutes of cardio and fresh air. Any frequency and time of day works – daily, every other day, weekly, mid-morning, lunchtime, afternoon. Consider asking senior leaders to take turns “hosting” the walk to give them a chance to chat with employees.
2. Fit & healthy feast
Host a summer picnic featuring fresh, healthy foods. Ask employees to bring a favorite dish and reward those who do with wellness program points. If your company is too large for this type of event, try showcasing fresh, healthy seasonal fare in your cafeteria and rewarding employees each time they purchase a “Fit & Healthy” meal.
3. Outdoor yoga
Some people wait all year for summer outdoor yoga. And yoga improves our ability to concentrate and manage stress – seriously key skills in the workplace! So why not offer classes at the office? Take advantage of nearby outdoor space by hiring a local yoga instructor to teach classes before or after work. Provide mats and props (blocks, straps, etc.) to make it easy for employees to take a class on the fly.
4. Summer recipe showdown
Ask employees to submit healthy BBQ and picnic recipes and put them all together in a company summer “cookbook.” Reward all participants and choose the top three to win a prize (e.g., picnic basket, kitchen store gift card, Fitbit).
5. Office field day
Physical performance and muscle strength are at their peak – and risk of injury at its lowest – between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. And exercise reduces stress, improves mood and increases confidence and self-esteem. So give employees the afternoon off for outdoor fitness. Plan a fun run/walk around campus, offer yoga on the lawn or a start up a soccer, softball or volleyball game.