Source: Valley News Live
Many employees look forward to a relaxing lunch hour. Taking a break from the daily grind and catching up with co-workers is enjoyable. But, some workers are giving their lunchtime social hour a healthy makeover. Instead of just getting a bite, some employees carve out time to be active too.
Walking is popular because it's easy. It has the lowest dropout rate of all types of physical activity. You can walk just about anywhere, you only need a good pair of shoes, and you don't usually have to worry about showering afterwards.
Walking is also a great form of exercise. Brisk walking for 30 minutes at a time, five days a week will:
- Help keep weight in check
- Lower the risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and some cancers
- Boost energy levels
- Relieve some symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety
- Improve flexibility, coordination, and circulation
- Reduce cholesterol and blood pressure levels
- Keep bones strong
A lunchtime walk may also leave you refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the workday.
Good for you, good for your employer
A workday walk not only helps you, but it has benefits for your employer as well. Healthy employees keep your company's health care costs down. And healthy workers are often more productive and absent less often than employees who aren't active. What's more, when employees interact with each other, such as in a walking group, it can build teamwork and boost morale.
Get your office moving
A workplace walking group can be informal, just walking around the office parking lot with your co-workers a few times each week. Or it can be structured, with support from your wellness team or Human Resources (HR) department and incentives for taking part. If you want to start a walking club in your office, these steps can help:
- Check with HR and your manager to make sure a workplace walking group is allowed. You may need to follow certain company policies. For example, you may not be allowed to e-mail the entire company, but HR may do so on your behalf. Or, walk times may need to be staggered so that the office is always staffed.
- Gauge interest. Ask some of your co-workers if they'd like to join you on break-time walks and find out when they're free. Some may even help you get the idea off the ground and offer suggestions.
- Plan the details. Decide when, how often, and where the group will meet. You can schedule the group at lunchtime or other convenient times. Choose if you'll meet daily or a few times per week. Map out a safe walking route using online mapping websites that measure distance. Your local parks and recreation department can also suggest walking areas.
- Invite members. Invite the rest of the company to join you, or start their own club. Perhaps each division can have a walking club of their own. But be sure to follow HR's policy for advertising. You may be allowed to post promotional materials in the cafeteria or host a kickoff meeting.
- Stay safe. Always check with your doctor before you start an exercise program and remind your co-workers to do so too. Also, invest in proper walking shoes, drink plenty of water, and wear sunscreen. Keep an eye on the forecast and cancel walking group plans when bad weather is likely.
- Be flexible and let your group grow. Change is bound to happen with time. Your group may have ebbs and flows in participation, or it may not take off in your office at all. Consider having friendly challenges for mileage/steps or minutes logged to keep members motivated.
View the original Start a walking group at work article on myOptumHealth.com
- American Heart Association. Start! walking at work fact sheet. Accessed: 11/03/2010
- California Department of Public Health. A guide to establishing worksite walking clubs. Accessed: 11/03/2010
- American Council on Exercise. Start a workplace walking group. Accessed: 11/03/2010