Employers that build a culture of wellness and offer supportive health resources – such as worksite health programs – play a proactive role in improving employee health and reducing claims costs. These programs provide your workforce with the tools and opportunities to pursue healthier lifestyles in an environment that is motivating, supportive, and fun. At the same time, these programs benefit your organization’s bottom line.

There are several great reasons to implement workplace fitness programs at your organization. It’s a great benefit for your employees, providing them with the tools and opportunities to pursue healthier lifestyles in an environment that is motivating, supportive, and fun. At the same time, these programs benefit your organization through reduced claims costs from a healthier workforce, and employees who are more engaged and productive, able to perform at a higher level of achievement in their daily tasks.

Guidelines to Follow to Help Your Workplace Fitness Challenge Ideas Be Successful:

  1. Accessibility. Workplace fitness challenges should be welcoming to all employees, regardless of fitness levels or physical abilities. The goal is to encourage maximum engagement (especially amongst the least healthy members of your workforce), so ensure that your programs are designed in a way that no one feels left out.
  2. Setting Personal Goals. Challenges and competitions can be made more accessible by measuring program achievements based on personal goals (often developed with a health coach or trainer at your onsite health center) or percent of improvement, rather than numbers (i.e. pounds lost; miles walked/ran).
  3. Friendly Competition / Teamwork. While the competitive nature of workplace fitness challenges can be a motivator for employees to participate, the competition should be of a friendly nature, in an environment free of criticism, blame or feelings of failure. Creating team-based challenges can help employees to support and gently push each other to reach their individual personal goals, while simultaneously creating collaborative bonds that will extend into the workplace.
  4. Incentives / Prizes. The use of incentives is a great way to maximize participation in any workplace fitness challenge. Incentives can come in many forms, from simple recognition of winners/participants (i.e. certificates; name listed in company wellness newsletter or intranet story) to financial incentives (i.e. premium deductible reductions; gift cards). Remember: the better the incentives, the more likely participation rates will increase.

Examples of Workplace Fitness Challenge Ideas

Here are just a few examples of workplace fitness challenges that you can utilize at your organization. Remember to personalize each program to the needs of your workforce, and make each individual’s personal goals the cornerstone of success for each program. Most of all, make sure to have fun!

Complete Wellness Challenge: eight-week challenge focusing on a personal health goal, utilizing fitness, nutrition and health coaching milestones to achieve it.

Walking Challenge: Weekly challenge where participants/teams log steps over the course of several weeks. Goal of 10,000 steps per person per day.

Physical Activity Challenge: Participants set their own goals in a twelve-week physical activity challenge that encourages people to be active with all types of activity

“Winning At Losing” Program: 12-week weight loss competition, based on percentage of weight loss, not total pounds lost. Each participant who weighs in each week will receive an email with program updates, health tips and motivation. Optional: group meetings to share successes/challenges during the challenge.

Train for a 5k Program: run/walk training program, for all ability levels. Weekly training tips about proper nutrition and training schedule are provided.

Stair Climbing Challenge: Challenge employees to take the stairs as much as they can throughout the workweek.  Decorate the company stairs with motivational and and colorful posters to encourage taking the stairs. Participants that uses the elevator the least amount of times receives a different prize during this monthly challenge.  This is a great fall and winter program to keep employees active.

Bike to Work Challenge:  One day a week challenge for the whole office to bike to work and provide a free, healthy breakfast on their arrival to the office.

Complete Wellness Challenge: Eight-week challenge focusing on a personal health goal, utilizing fitness, nutrition, and health coaching milestones.

Walking Challenge: Weekly challenge where participants/teams log steps with a goal of 10,000 steps per person per day.

Physical Activity Challenge: Participants set their own goals in a 12-week physical activity challenge that encourages people to be active with all types of activity.

“Winning At Losing” Program: 12-week weight loss competition based on percentage of weight loss, not total pounds lost. Each participant who weighs in each week will receive an email with program updates, health tips, and motivation. Optional: group meetings to share successes/challenges during the challenge. Read Desiree’s “Winning at Losing” success story.

Train for a 5K Program: Run/walk training program, for all ability levels. Weekly training tips about proper nutrition and training schedules are provided.

“My employer’s health center began offering Freedom from Tobacco classes, which I attended. My first 12 weeks laid the foundation for me to quit. Because I am a driver and work the night shift, it’s been a challenge for me to give up cigarettes. I live alone when my son is not with me, which also made it hard to quit. I attended the next 12-week class of Freedom from Tobacco and am now smoke-free.” – Jimmie, Marathon Health patient, employee at Sheetz, and winner of Healthy Like Me.

Healthier Workforce, Healthier Bottom Line

Your employees need support and encouragement to stick to and achieve their health goals – and your organization can help. A worksite healthcare provider can partner with you to provide convenient, high-quality medical care and the programming, guidance, and resources your employees need to improve their health.

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