Step Into the Benefits of Workplace Fitness

3 steps to implementing a fitness program at work.

By Michael Rich

The Wellness Council of America reports a $24 return for every $1 spent on a company wellness program for small businesses. Furthermore, a 2005 survey by The Art of Health Promotionreported companies instituting employee health and wellness programs realized a 30 percent reduction in medical and absenteeism costs in less than four years.

To recognize these benefits and more, implement a workplace fitness program by following these simple steps:

1. Schedule an appointment with your management team to talk about the possibility of implementing a workplace fitness program. For this meeting, come prepared with the type of fitness program you’d like to use. Possible options include a companywide weight loss challenge, at-work fitness classes, subsidized gym memberships with a set aside time each day for employees to utilize it, or a walk-at-work program.

When presenting the information on the type of program you wish to implement, talk about the cost of a fitness program versus the benefits, such as reduced health-care costs and improved productivity. After receiving approval, planning can begin.

2. After you have received management approval, meet with your employees to define fitness goals and a program plan. Ask employees about the things they struggle with in regard to fitness. Typical answers include time constraints, money, and fitness levels. Use these answers to help craft a program that is best suited to the needs of all employees. In some instances, you may need to create two separate programs to meet the needs of all employees. There are different fitness program styles to consider: aerobic, strength, and agility. A good program will incorporate elements of each.

When creating these programs, ensure participants are fit enough to safely take part. Take into account the age and body types of the people involved before choosing the elements of your program. As with undertaking any health regimen, a physical exam by a qualified health professional is advised.

3. Having a program often isn’t enough to garner participation. To make sure your company’s employees take part in the new program, offer incentives to elicit participation. Possible perks include a prize for the greatest amount of weight loss or allowing employees to come in late on days they use a gym membership.

Management also should take an active part in the fitness program. This will not only encourage others to follow the lead of their supervisors, but will help build stronger relationships.

Michael Rich is a safety writer and researcher for Safety Services Company, a supplier of safety training materials in North America. To learn more about the safety solutions it offers, visit www.safetyservicescompany.com.

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