According to the Mayo Clinic, sitting is the new smoking. Unfortunately, even with this knowledge, achieving increased fitness in the workplace has not gotten any easier. With almost 70% of employees with jobs involving prolonged sitting in the workplace, finding ways to boost movement and exercise at work is vital to the health of our workforce.

So we compiled the top 7 exercise habits that our clients have reported back that brought positive progress toward increasing exercise or movement at work. Not every job site has a built in gym. Not every person has the ability to workout before or after their commute. These easy ideas will help keep exercise at the forefront of their minds and provide new opportunities for increased exercise each day that they hadn’t considered before.

These easy ideas will help keep exercise at the forefront of their minds and provide new opportunities for increased exercise each day that they hadn’t considered before.

Easy Ideas for Increased Fitness in the Workplace

Parking Far Away From the Worksite for Increased Fitness in the Workplace

Although grabbing on of the closest parking spots is often a coveted practice at work, it’s certainly not the healthiest. One employee reported that they chose to park the furthest away from their job location possible without creating an unreasonable distance. Whether that was the farthest parking space in the company lot, or even on the side of the road, it is a great habit to get into.

This created the opportunity for increased walking, getting hundreds of more steps in, and even increased time outside which also has many benefits. If multiple parking options are available for your employees, send out maps showing how many steps they can get in if they park in more distant locations. Encourage them to try new places rather than right next to the front door.

RELATED: 19 Healthy Work Environment Examples to Upgrade Your Employees’ Physical Well-Being

Take the Stairs Instead of the Elevators

If your worksite has multiple floors, set the example of using the stairwells instead of the elevators. All managers and higher-up leaders can choose those routes instead, creating the option as a standard practice for everyone. It often takes the same amount of time to walk a flight of stairs, as does waiting for the elevator.

Not only will you get more steps in, there are more benefits to taking the stairs that traditional walking does not have, such as:

  • increased cardiovascular health
  • stronger bone density
  • growing muscular strength in legs
  • improving amounts of healthy cholesterol
  • burning a lot more calories
  • increased energy levels

This is often the most common and easiest way to have increased fitness in the workplace. So if your building has stairs, use them!

RELATED: 7 Ways How Senior Leaders Can Communicate Support For the Company Wellness Program

Exercise Only a Few Days a Week When Starting From Nothing

One employee we challenged wanted to increase their amount of exercise during the week, but was discouraged by the recommendation of almost daily exercise. However, doing exercise just three days a week for 30 minutes was achievable. Even shorter amounts of exercise done only a few days per week makes a big difference than no exercise at all.

group fitness in the workplace

Increasing exercise by 90 minutes a week can provide:

  • lowered blood pressure
  • increased oxygenation to your cells
  • improvement in cholesterol levels
  • better heart health and strength
  • reduced risk of diabetes, or better management of insulin levels

So create conversations around how your employees can get in even just a few exercise sessions during the work week. Find solutions and opportunities that work with schedules and locations. You don’t have to have a full on-site gym or a paid trainer on staff. Just small groups that want to do yoga out on the lawn can work. Or a handful of guys that will throw a football around during a lunch break.

RELATED: 13 Fun Workplace Wellness Challenge Ideas Your Employees Will Enjoy

Add In New Exercise a Few Times a Month

This is for your stalwart employees that are consistent or already fit but can still get better fitness in the workplace. But maybe they only do a certain type of exercise, or don’t have a good mix of aerobic and strength training; both which are necessary for all around exercise health. Just because someone has endurance doesn’t mean they’re strong. Just because someone is really flexible doesn’t mean they can hike all day.

Create simple plans with your employees on how they can add in new exercise sessions just a few times per month. If they’re an avid runner, help them find space for some weight lifting. If they stick to cycling but have little flexibility, encourage them to do more yoga. If someone only really enjoys things like Zumba, perhaps throwing some cross fit in there will do the trick. Find something new in an area they can improve for just a few sessions per month.

RELATED: 50 Office Challenge Ideas Including Office Fitness Challenges

Increase Fitness in the Workplace With Group Walks Twice a Week

Some people need the motivation and comradery that a group provides when it comes to exercise. There’s more personal connection, motivation, and accountability to spur on consistency and relationships on top of the health benefits.

You can organize group walks that happen a few times a week. Enlist a leader that can send out reminders and keep track of schedules. Freshen up the route or destinations near the worksite so the variety keeps participants engaged. If numbers start to fall, instill a challenge or campaign to get participation back up.

group walks at work

Sponsored Community Fun Run Events

There are always charities, local celebrations, fundraisers, or upcoming holiday races that your organization can be a part of on a regular basis. Many people have aspirations or goals to run certain distances, and they don’t have to be full-fledged marathon runners. You can hit multiple targets for your employees by both sponsoring a local race and encouraging co-workers to signup and train together.

Although taking place outside of the workplace, this provides a lot more instances of exercise for employees with greater commitment to continue. They’ve invested into running a race and are surrounded by others also doing the same. You can make it even more meaningful if the race is to support a cause that is a big part of one of your employee’s life. Or maybe there is a personal situation your work family has been impacted by that they can further by such an event.

Light Movement During Work Breaks

When longer periods of time aren’t possible for intervals of exercise on work days, there are still ways to increase your employees’ exercise even during 15 minute breaks. Provide ideas that can be done anywhere, even at desks, such as:

  • stretching poses
  • body weight exercises (squats, pushups, etc.)
  • break room dance sessions to upbeat music
  • lunging across the room
  • hopscotch in the hallways

You may laugh at a few of these ideas. But there’s a reason why children need recess and not stay chained to a desk. It’s the same for adults–movement is key for not only physical health, but mental health as well. These little things truly add up when done multiple times each day consistently over time.

RELATED: 13 Corporate Fitness Programs That Lead the Pack

Get Results For Your Employee’s Fitness in the Workplace

The hardest part about implementing and seeing healthier results is getting your employees to take action. You can have all the emails and company reminders sent out, but the biggest difference maker is team accountability. This is where a legit wellness program and coordinator come into play. But where to start? This is what WellSteps can do for you.

We help you discover all of the options for increasing the health and well-being for your organization, create a plan of implementation, assist in managing it, and provide all the resources and accountability needed for success.

Fitness in the workplace is amazing, but it’s just a single piece of the puzzle. Imagine if your organization had a well-rounded solution for healthy support with the experts who know. We invite you to schedule a free demo and see what’s possible for your organization today!

free demo with wellsteps team

About The Author

Dr. Steve Aldana

Dr. Aldana is the CEO of Wellsteps, a worksite wellness solution that leads the nation in wellness program deployment and engagement. Dr. Aldana authored over 75 scientific papers and 7 books on health risk management, healthy living, and health promotion programs. He has given over 350 keynote speeches across the U.S. on the ability of good nutrition and regular exercise to prevent, arrest, and reverse many chronic diseases.

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