In the past year, many employees found themselves having to adapt their exercise routines due to gym closures and unknowns related to exercising outside. While some employees adapted easily, others found this to be a struggle. Indeed, some studies found that in the initial period following the March 11 pandemic declaration by the World Health Organization, our daily step counts decreased by about 27%.

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month and with over 13 months of working from home and dealing with gym closures behind us, it’s a great opportunity for employers to focus on the physical wellbeing of their employees. The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week. The benefits of striving for this amount of exercise are positively correlated with being happier and experiencing less stress. Gallup found that just 20 minutes of exercise could improve our mood for several hours after we finish working out.

Below are some strategies employers can use to encourage employees to prioritize their physical fitness:

  1. Share the “Move Your Way” campaign from the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. It outlines physical activity recommendations and provides free tools and resources specifically for adults, older adults, kids, and pregnant and postpartum individuals. There is also an interactive tool that suggests activities and builds an actionable plan.
  2. Provide a reimbursement or subscription to a fitness app. Many of these have classes and workouts for all levels and all preferences. And if you partner with a third party to provide a fitness app at your company, many will boost engagement via fitness challenges.
  3. Make it explicit that employees can flex their time to fit in exercise. This is important to negate feelings of guilt associated with blocking time at lunch or before signing off for the day. This can also be a huge relief for working parents who don’t have as much flexibility to fit in exercise before or after the traditional workday.

The benefits of improving and maintaining physical fitness have the potential to directly impact work performance. From elevated mood, which directly impacts the ability to build relationships and provide exceptional customer service, to improved concentration, sharper memory, and enhanced creativity; the impact on productivity and quality work cannot be ignored by employers.

Sequoia clients can explore more Wellbeing programs and connect with the Sequoia Wellbeing Team in HRX.

Sources: “Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements”. Tom Rath and Jim Harter, 2010.

Disclaimer: This content is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, medical or tax advice. It provides general information and is not intended to encompass all compliance and legal obligations that may be applicable. This information and any questions as to your specific circumstances should be reviewed with your respective legal counsel and/or tax advisor as we do not provide legal or tax advice. Please note that this information may be subject to change based on legislative changes. © 2021 Sequoia Benefits & Insurance Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Shannon Arens – Shannon is a Wellbeing Consultant at Sequoia. She partners closely with Enterprise clients to assess, develop, and recommend a holistic wellbeing strategy designed to the meet the diverse needs of employees. Outside of work, Shannon enjoys spending time with her two children, going for a run, or relaxing in her backyard.