A growing body of research makes the case for exercising while you’re actually at the office. Not only does working out at work make it easier to schedule exercise sessions and motivate yourself to get fit, science also shows mingling work and fitness can boost productivity, aid collaboration, and improve your mood.
The case for finding time for fitness at the office is compelling, which is why many savvy employers not only encourage employees to work out during the workday, but also offer incentives and facilities to nudge them to take a break and move. These organizations have seen enough science to convince them that on-site exercise isn’t a distraction but a performance booster.
These companies also understand that unless they want employees doing push-ups under their desks, firms need to offer facilities to help staff to slip exercise into their workday. At Meisterlabs, for example, we installed showers and lockers, and now a big group of us goes running during lunch breaks. This successful initiative was inspired by other businesses that have already successfully implemented exercise-at-work programs much more inspiring than ours. Here are a few of them. Maybe they can inspire you or your boss to make it a little easier for your team to mix work and working out:
1. Google dance.
The Mountain View-based search giant is renowned for its dedication to the well being of its employees. As pioneers in the field, they implemented a game-changing approach to encouraging employees to mix exercise and work. Google not only offers on-site fitness centers, but also provides more than 200 exercise classes, including eclectic options like “How to dance at a party.” Employees can also help themselves to bocce courts, a bowling alley, or even a pick-up roller hockey game.
2. Swift and sure.
Swift illustrates that it’s not just giant American companies that offer on-site exercise facilities. A global financial messaging company, Swift has built a sports center at its headquarters. Employees can dive into an outside swimming pool during lunch, participate in a variety of sport classes, including ping-pong, yoga, basketball and squash, or even try out the Chinese meditation practice Qigong. And these are only a few examples of the options team members can choose from.
3. No sweat, boss.
The energy company ConocoPhillips goes the extra mile to provide offbeat ways to exercise at work. In their wellness center in Bartlesville, Okla., the firm offers employees afternoon Tai Chi classes. For those in the company’s Calgary office who want a gentle introduction to exercise, the on-site wellness center even hosts an “I don’t really want to sweat” class to get even the least athletic employees started on the road to greater health.
Many on the company’s Norway team are apparently on the other end of the fitness scale. ConocoPhillips caters to their needs as well. A large group of Norwegian employees organized a biking group to train for and participate in Nordsjøritt (North Sea Ride), an annual cycling competition that involves a 60 mile ride from Egersund to Stavanger.
4. Count your stressings.
The approach of Colliers International’s offers a glimpse into the future of well-being at work. Employees use wearable devices to measure and track their heart rate, levels of productivity, and stress. If a monitor detects increased stress or decreased productivity, it suggests a short break for physical activity or even to just pack up and call it a day. “It’s very revealing -- while some productive work doesn’t increase my stress levels, a recent sales negotiation pushed me into the red,” said the company’s director corporate solutions, explaining the type of insight provided by the devices.
5. A healthy health insurer.
Aetna’s wellness program provides another example of how the digital revolution can help promote exercise at work. The health insurance company provides employees with a virtual wellness and fitness center with animated instructors that lead workouts.
In addition, the company instituted a program to promote yoga and meditation and yoga in 2010. “The results include improvements in heart rates and increased productivity, and help Aetna reduce its employee health benefit costs by 7 percent in 2012,” Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini told The Huffington Post.
These companies are demonstrating what science has proven several times: exercising at work, even without sweat, has huge benefits for productivity and employees health, but is also dead simple to implement.