Want to help your employees find an easy way to get more exercise and build towards a healthier life in general? To burn off some extra calories without having to change their daily routine too much? A way to include their spouse/kids/parents/friends in their exercise regimen to make it more fun? Then have them dig out your best sneakers because we’re about to explain to you how walking – simple walking – can do all of this for them – and you – and more, simply by understanding why employers should promote workplace walking.
What’s So Great About Walking?
Walking has all kinds of ‘ease benefits’ for everyone. It can be done anywhere, in almost any weather, really does not require expensive special equipment, is an activity that can be undertaken alone or as part of a group and unless you are under the age of one or so there’s no learning curve involved!
In terms of health benefits walking is a very heart healthy activity, it builds stamina, burns calories, and, according to a number of recent formal scientific studies, can help significantly reduce stress and help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders.
As a part of an employee wellness program, workplace walking can be undertaken by almost any of your employees and it is often an easier ‘sell’ than other fitness suggestions like taking time out of their busy day to head to the gym, or learning a new exercise discipline like yoga.
It is also super easy – and inexpensive to implement a workplace walking program. Sponsored walks for charity undertaken as an office team, walking meetings and simple monthly walking challenges (with rewards) are all ideas likely to appeal to most employees, no matter their current fitness level.
How Far Must Employees Walk to Get the Biggest Benefits?
The almost across the board current recommendation is that people begin with a daily step goal of 10,000 if they want to use walking as a ‘proper’ form of exercise. 10,000 steps is about eight kilometers a day. It sounds like a lot, but no one actually needs to go on a formal 8K walk every day to get those 10,000 steps in.
On average, simply going about their daily lives, most folks already walk 3,000-4,000 steps a day anyway. And making it up to that 10,000 step goal can be easier than they think, even if they, like many of us, have the kind of job that keeps them deskbound for much of the day. Here are just a few easy ways to add more steps to any day:
- Park the car further away from the office
- Take the stairs not the lift
- Get moving during break times, even if it’s just walking around the office
- Take a walk after lunch
- Go to speak with colleagues down the hall instead of emailing them.
- Take an evening stroll after work, maybe even with family and friends
These are just a few easy ways you can encourage employees to add to their daily step count, as they try it out they’ll find there are many more, and that taking more steps every day, maybe even more than 10,000, isn’t that hard after all.
Tracking Those Steps
Obviously, counting steps manually in your head all day is not exactly possible for anyone, so anyone undertaking workplace walking as exercise program needs a way to track them. A simple manual pedometer keeps count of daily steps and if you try getting a little more technical, a wearable fitness tracker can do even more.
Wearable fitness trackers are designed to monitor a number of different things, not just step count. They can be used to monitor heart rate, calories burned throughout the day and distance walked in kilometers and miles. These trackers then link to smartphone apps that allow the user to set and track goals and monitor their progress so that they have a visual, motivational record of what your walking is achieving. These little bands can be powerful motivators by themselves.
And this is where you, as an employer can come in. By providing a fitness tracker as a part of your employee wellness program you’ll both be offering a perk – fitness trackers are pretty cool and employees love free stuff – and a way to help ensure that your goals as company – healthier, happier, more productive employees – are met as well.