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4 Inexpensive Ways Employers Can Help Their Staff Stay Fit

Photo Credit: iStock.com

Regular exercise is a critical aspect of a healthy work/life balance, but when you’re stuck at a desk all day, this may prove challenging. Earlier this year, CBC News reported that a Toronto team of researchers evaluated the results of 41 international studies and found our sedentary lifestyle may increase our risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. 

While you may not have the budget to install a gym and showers at your workplace, there are still many ways for small business owners to encourage employees to get fit during the workday. Here are four inexpensive ways to promote exercise among your staff.

Encourage Biking to Work

While some cities are known for being more cyclist friendly than others, you can take measures to encourage your staff to bike to work. Give your staff the nudge they need by providing bike-parking and offering vouchers for helmets to promote safe biking. You can also host bike rides during lunch hour- which promotes team building in addition to exercise. As a business, take part in a Bike-To-Work campaign like the City of Ottawa’s Bike-To-Work Month program that ran in May, drawing over 2500 participants. Many Canadian cities run Bike Month each June with activities and prizes for individuals and teams that trade in their car keys for biking to work.

Start a Lunchtime Walking Club

Most of us don’t spend our entire lunch break eating, so take the opportunity to get some fresh air in the middle of your workday. Invite your staff to take a walk with you around the neighborhood towards the end of their lunch break. Better yet, outfit everyone with pedometers or Fitbits and have teams of two compete for who can take the highest number of steps each week. A walk doesn’t require workout clothes or a shower afterwards, yet it’s a great way to introduce exercise to staff members who are hesitant about breaking a sweat.

Introduce Yoga or Tai Chi

I once worked in a bank branch where every Wednesday morning the entire bank staff took part in “Tai Chi Wednesdays.” It was led by one of my co-workers who had been practicing the ancient Chinese art for most of her life. Both Tai Chi and yoga involve moving through a series of gentle stretches and are suitable for people of all ages and shapes. All you really need is some space (ie. clear a space in your lunchroom or office) and someone willing to lead your team. Alternatively, you can look up instructional videos online and follow along.

Workout At Work

If you’re truly committed to getting your staff to start working out regularly, take a page from the government of Turkey’s Edirne province. Here, civil servants may start their regular workday an hour late — but only if they exercise, according to a recent article in Daily Sabah, a Turkish newspaper. As part of an anti-obesity campaign, the region’s civil servants have the option to sign up for the program, which delays their work start time from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. if they spend that hour exercising.

As a business owner, providing easy and fun options to incorporate exercise into your employee's work day will encourage them to stay fit. Don’t forget to set an example by taking part yourself, and remember- research consistently shows that healthy employees are happier and more productive.