Do you have an office walking club?
Walking away from the office.
Does sitting in your office fill you with boredom? Do you feel tired and emotionally drained by the end of the day? Studies have found that by getting just 20 minutes of light exercise 5 times a week, you can improve mental performance, reduce stress and help curb depression.
Some of the best managers have caught on to these facts, and have initiated lunchtime walking clubs for their staff; and it’s not just for exercise. Lunchtime walking clubs offer a chance for staff to interact with each other outside of the office. Out of office conversations lead to greater staff relationships, better collaboration once back inside the office, and they can even help to increase employee creativity. And it’s not just for the under 30’s. For older members of staff, regular walking has been shown to be twice as effective at reducing cholesterol as taking a Statin.
Organizing your walking club
Before starting a walking club, it is important to identify 3 to 5 people to help you start your club. These employees will help you promote the walking club and encourage employee participation. These individuals might already exist in the form of a work site wellness committee or advisory group. As an alternative, consider asking people who are already walking for fitness to be “charter members.” Suggest that each charter member ask 2 or 3 coworkers to join. Remember to invite supervisors and/or human resources (HR) staff as well.
When and How Often Will the Club Meet?
- Set a specific, standard time when most employees are able to attend (e.g., a time when no regularly scheduled meetings occur like during morning, lunch, or afternoon break periods).
- Piggyback on existing events that can complement the walk, such as walking to a nearby farmers’ market. • Ideally, participants should walk 2 to 3 days a week (e.g., Monday/Wednesday/Friday or Tuesday/Thursday). Daily, would be even better!
Maintaining and Expanding Your Walking Club’s Membership
Walking clubs are very dynamic – a group can start with 40 walkers and dwindle at any given time to 10 consistent walkers. Fluctuations occur, but it is the group’s responsibility to continuously and creatively promote the walking club. Also, keep in mind that walking clubs may not be feasible or successful at all worksites. At worksites where this is the case, the activity of walking can still be promoted to employees. The resulting increase in employees’ physical activity levels will benefit the individual employees and the worksite as a whole, just as a formal walking club would. Maintaining Motivation Recognition at the worksite is important for motivation. Ways to motivate walking club members and give recognition to the members’ efforts include:
- Highlighting the walking club in your worksite newsletter, including testimonials from walkers and a calendar of the club’s scheduled walking activities.
- Scheduling quarterly social functions, such as barbecues, picnics or healthy break time snacks, after scheduled walks. Rotating the leadership of the walking club at least annually.
- Recognizing members when they reach special milestones – 10Km, 50Km, 100Km, etc. or 1 hour, 5 hours, 10 hours, etc. Members can keep track of their distance or hours walked by using a walking journal or log. Check out www.walking.about.com/cs/measure/a/blhowtrack.htm for free printable walking logs.
- Organizing challenges such as increased distances or time spent walking. Providing participants with incentive items such as t-shirts, motivational posters and brochures related to walking (see www.journeyworks.com), water bottles, visors, lip balm, sunscreen, or pedometers. Pedometers can be purchased in many sporting goods stores or directly from manufacturers, they can be digital or analogue.