Does your organization walk the talk?

Our warming spring temperatures are making walks easier, but Grace and I get out year-round, even in frigid temperatures and sometimes icy conditions. The walks are good for both of us and I’m lucky to have her motivating me to get out, especially on those days when it would be easier to say I don’t have time or have something more important to do.

No one would describe me as athletically inclined. I’m not very coordinated. I’ve never excelled at any sports, much as I enjoy watching my share of them on TV or in person.

But I do understand how important it is to stay active, mentally and physically. Grace sure helps with both.

One of the many things I love about having a dog is that she encourages me to get outside and move around. Even yesterday, I found myself walking down the street while there was a misty rain falling on us. She’s not a fan of rain, but she didn’t even mind the wet drops falling on us. Nor did I.

We’ve come to love our walks. It’s become such a routine that I am very aware when we don’t get out. Upon our return, I feel much more physically and mentally alert. We walk fast (though it certainly wouldn’t be considered speed-walking!), yet moving around in the fresh air definitely makes a difference to how I feel.

I tried to find some data on the effects of healthy employees in the workplace. One report, entitled “Healthy Workforce 2010 and Beyond” suggested that organizations need to view employee health as a productivity strategy as opposed to their more typical exercise of finding ways to manage costs for healthcare coverage.

The report noted that only 26% of U.S. adults report vigorous leisure-time activity for 20 minutes or longer three or more days per week. One of the major barriers is lack of time and inadequate access to convenient places to exercise. Walking can happen almost anywhere. So now we just need the time.

Finding time is not always easy. Our plates are full, not just at work, but at home. There is no way I would walk as much as I do if I didn’t have Grace encouraging, and yes, sometimes nagging me, to join her. Even as much as I love that time, I can find myself saying I have too much to do or that something “more important” should come first. We need that additional motivation to help us keep our commitment.

Maybe it’s a dog that’s by our side to encourage us. Or maybe it’s a progressive-minded employer. The report I mentioned above includes a short assessment that will disclose gaps and weaknesses in how your organization approaches employee health management. There are also sections in the report that will help you develop strategies for strengthening your initiatives. I encourage you to take a look; the report “Healthy Workforce 2010 and Beyond” and many more resources can be found here.

I need to finish this up and get some work done so Grace and I will have time for our walk today! But I’d love to hear what you do to stay active. What are your challenges and how to you address them? What suggestions do you have for employers to help all of us be healthy?

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  1. LeeAnn on April 15, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Hey Robin – this post is very timely for me as I met with a friend who is a personal trainer last week and she told me about a new corporate fitness program that she has developed. I am going to talk to our human resources person tomorrow about it. Our firm is self insured, so the health of our 150 employees is very financially relevant – in several ways. For the 15 years that I have been there, we have talked the talk, but not walked the walk. I will keep you posted if we do it – I think it would be very exciting. As for me personally, I have to do my physical activity first thing in the morning. It starts my day out right and also allows me to relax when I get home from a long day. I am envious of your walks with Grace – my Gracie cannot walk much anymore.

    • Robin on April 16, 2012 at 9:18 am

      LeeAnn, wow, the corporate fitness program sounds very exciting. I know that fitness programs driven by employers can be intimidating to some people, due to fear of their own abilities or desire, and the thing I’ve come to understand is that no matter how uncoordinated I am, I can still be active and love it! I would love to hear more as your company moves this effort forward. Good luck with it, and kudos for taking the initiative. Everyone wins in my mind.

  2. Lionel Lloyd on April 30, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    In my line of work (construction) we are on our feet all day, so by the time I get home, I’m pretty beat. Sia however, always finds a way to get me back outside for playtime.

    • Robin on May 2, 2012 at 8:37 pm

      Lucky Sia! I bet (at least hope) that time with her is relaxing for you, too.

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