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How much better would your workday be if it included physical activities, such as snowboarding, skiing, walking, or ice skating?

If you’re looking to create a workplace where team members work well together, individuals feel more relaxed and productive, and potential new employees are lining up at the door to join in, consider how physical activity can become part of your culture.

Not only does it support corporate health and wellness programs and goals, but incorporating physical activity into the work day is also an easy, inexpensive way to cultivate teamwork, creativity, and camaraderie.

Well Worth It

The value of physical activity on our overall health and longevity is well-researched and well-known.  It helps manage weight which, when left unchecked, can lead to problems ranging from joint pain to sleep issues to heart attacks.  And even without weight loss, exercise has been linked to a reduction in diseases such as some types of cancer.

Healthy workers have fewer medical issues, which is helpful to stopping the trend of ever-increasing medical insurance costs.  Also, when it comes to the actual work, many jobs are made easier when a person is fit, and physical movement on the job can help reduce repetitive motion injuries.

However, in the information age, an increasing number of jobs are more heavily reliant upon mental fitness, but the psychological, emotional, and social effects of exercise are often overlooked.

Exercise has been shown to accomplish all of the following:

  • reduce stress
  • increase focus and productivity in the hours following exercise
  • increase positive emotions which can translate to good feelings about work
  • improved creativity
  • improve camaraderie when done alongside coworkers
  • ensure thinking, learning, and judgement skills stay sharp over time

The best part is that an hour of high intensity training isn’t required; these benefits can come from small doses of moderate physical activity.

Let’s Get Moving!

What does it look like to integrate physical movement into a culture?

A company gym is a wonderful perk, but it is expensive and out of reach for most employers.  It’s also not as likely to bring a team together.

Walking is one of the easiest mid-day exercises because it can be done anywhere and only requires a supportive pair of shoes. It’s even becoming more common to have walking meetings.  It can result in more creative, dynamic conversations and can be helpful in managing the emotions of a difficult conversation.

One of my clients has dedicated space for employees to store their bikes at work.  A large group of 10+ employees can be seen riding in a pack around town on lunch breaks.

As long as there is some open space available, catch, frisbee when it’s nice outside, or a paddle game are all easy to jump into for a few minutes.

Jumping rope is a full-body workout that gets the blood pumping and can lead to lots of laughs when done with others.

How about stretching or yoga in a conference room?

There are many physical activities that would be easy to do in 10 minutes or so on or near company property.  These are just a few examples to get your ideas flowing.

Leaders Set the Stage

Physical activity isn’t something you can force on people. Not only will it not work, but it will backfire.  Business owners, managers, and supervisors are most effective in leading others when they set the environment that allows individuals and the team to determine what they want to do.

In the biking example above, the plan was not something that upper management announced one day, but rather something that an employee brought up to his teammates because they did it at a former workplace.

What the company did do is provide space for the bikes to be stored in a secure place indoors.  They also joined in on the bike rides, so it was clear throughout the organization that they were in full support of the activity.

It’s as simple as opening up the conversation with your team, providing some basic equipment or space, and joining in the fun!

How can you foster a culture of physical activity in your workplace?  Leave your answer in a comment below!

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