IT IS quite obvious that when you think about your workplace or office, fitness is not necessarily one of the things that come to mind. Usually, it is that report or news story you have to work on, the video footage you have to edit or even those products you have to sell off the counter.
What you don’t realise is that the more time you spend sitting on your desk at work, in your car when driving home, on your couch while watching television and finally lying down on your bed, is a risk factor for early death. As your total sitting time increases, so does your risk of an early death says a new study published mid this year in Annals of Internal Medicine in America. This means research has linked sitting down for prolonged periods of time with a number of health concerns including obesity, chronic back pain, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar and also increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
For this reason, encouraging fitness in the workplace can actually be beneficial for both employers and employees.
Today I’ll share with you some of the benefits of establishing a culture of fitness at work. Critical to this, is that initiating a wellness program for employees especially one that educates and encourages them to adopt a healthier lifestyle enhances personal effectiveness, improves the quality of life and overall benefits the company.
1. Improves productivity and encourages work performance.
A fitness program often demands that an individual set and reach fitness goals. Likewise, learning to stay true to your goals and see them through to completion is a skill that is naturally brought into the workplace. Engaging in workplace wellness activities, like exercise and eating well, increases employee productivity and performance. As you exercise, your brain will be better focused for tasks, and you will feel more energized and motivated to accomplish work.
2. Reduces absenteeism at work
Fit employees are less likely to get sick. Am sure you have noticed that a person who is physically fit is generally more resistant to things like flu going around in the office” than a person who is not.
Additionally, healthier workers miss fewer days of work. Therefore, encouraging exercise among your staff could lead to a fall in the number of absentees.
3. Less stress
Regular exercise releases the physical, mental and emotional tensions that life brings your way. With many workers today spending much of their workday desk bound, body fatigue is a major contributor to workplace stress and fatigue.
Physical activities can help an employee feel relieved of daily built up stress. Just 30 minutes of low intensity exercise will get you feeling more relaxed in no time. Thus a fit employee tends to have lower overall stress levels than an employee who does not engage in regular exercise.
According to the February 2011 issue of Harvard Men’s Health Watch, exercise can counter depression and dissipate stress. More so, workers sleep better after exercise and are able to lower both their cholesterol and blood pressure levels by following a regular exercise plan.
4. Fosters teamwork
I believe a greater sense of workplace teamwork is a natural outgrowth of participating in an employee fitness program. Employees who exercise together get to know each other better. This enhances relationships. These relationships help build a company culture of cooperation that can pay off in increased loyalty. Moreover, social support is a big component to any fitness program. When your colleagues are in the program with you, you can boost each other’s efforts and help hold each other accountable.
Eventually, that atmosphere of teamwork spills over into the community and reflects well on your company.
5. Lowers hospital costs
You will agree with me that most of the unhealthy lifestyle choices we make cost businesses a lot of money in lost productivity each year. It is therefore important for a company to understand that the most important assets a company has are its healthy employees. These employees bring the best of themselves to their jobs every day.
That’s why it goes without saying a physically fit person knows no doctor. This simply means when you are physically fit, you are less likely to get sick, in the long run, it will save you and your company money.
6. More energy and self confidence
Regular exercise comes with increased and sustained energy. This energy allows the employee to stay focused on the task at hand. Moreover, a healthy individual tends to have a high level of self-confidence, because they have proven to themselves that they can accomplish what it takes to obtain a level of physical fitness. This self-confidence empowers the employee to challenge themselves, and strive for higher levels of achievement in the workplace.
The author is a pastor, mentor, motivational speaker and fitness trainer.