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9 Virtual Fitness Programs That Work

9 Ways to Improve Health Care Costs, Employee Wellbeing and Experience During the Pandemic

For many workers, their new “normal” routine consists of getting out of bed, logging on to work, and sitting for the remainder of the day. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has shifted the workplace from the office to kitchen tables and living rooms for thousands of employees. This shift to telecommuting has made it possible for employees to work while staying safe and preventing the spread of COVID-19, but it has also created a few challenges, including increased levels of physical inactivity.

When your employees sit for hours at their computers, they are on a potential trajectory for developing major health problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities to reduce their risk of and prevent chronic conditions. Moreover, getting enough physical activity can help prevent 1 in 10 premature deaths.

Today, more than 78 million U.S. adults are obese—a condition that costs employers roughly $2,500 per employee annually. We know that regular movement and moderate, physical activity are key contributors to combating obesity, reducing stress, and preventing life-threatening chronic diseases.

Healthier employees = healthier bottom line.

One surefire way to reduce your health care costs, improve employee morale, and enhance the employee experience is by embedded health & wellbeing in your culture, built environments and benefit offerings. Companies with health & wellbeing programs for employees have slashed their health care tab by 20-55%, cut short-term sick leave by up to 32% and amped productivity by up to 52%. In fact, the return on investment for businesses can be up to $3.27 for every $1.00 invested in workplace wellness initiatives.

Fitness programs can also substantially curb the soaring indirect costs of poor employee health---like sick days, short-term disability and being physically on the job, but not really engaged. Research shows these productivity-related costs can be two to three times higher than the direct medical expenses. Plus, turnover is expensive. Having a workplace culture that values wellness may encourage team members to stay.

Work it, baby, work it….

The question is no longer whether you can afford to integrate wellness initiatives and fitness programs into your place of employment. The question NOW is, how do we integrate fitness programs and encourage physical activity in a virtual environment? Shake up the sedentary work-from-home vibe and commit to supporting a healthier, more active workforce.

Here are 9 ways to get going:

  1. Give Out Wearable Fitness Tracking Devices

    An estimated 13 million wearables will become part of employee wellness programs within the next five years. Make a company statement by sporting smart wristbands like Fitbit® or Jawbone UP®. These portable devices motivate and enable employees to set goals, track their personal fitness and share their progress with colleagues and managers. If wearables are too pricey, try pedometers instead.

  2. Implement a Virtual Physical Activity Challenge

    Implementing an organization-wide step challenge will not only promote physical activity throughout the workday, but also provide your employees a chance to connect in a “socially-distanced” world. Contact your carrier partners for available platforms and resources that are free to low cost. Can’t find anything through your carrier? Take advantage of free platforms such as countit.com or walkgeorgia.org.

  3. Allow & Encourage Flex Time & Fitness Breaks

    Many of us spend 2,000+ hours annually on the job. A flex time policy gives employees a chance to fit regular exercise into their daily work schedule, so they can get their endorphin fix either before, during or after work. Remind employees to block off time on their calendars to get up during the day and move.

  4. Try Standing Desks or Treadmill Desks for At-home Offices

    Banish mid-day sluggishness (and break up that boring conference call) with a walking desk. Consider investing in a treadmill-desk combo that enables employees to squeeze in 10 to 30 minutes of brisk walking while they work. Exerpeutic offers a $689 model, while TreadDesk and LifeSpan have additional options.    

  5. Offer Virtual Workout Class

    Zumba®, anyone? Hire an instructor to conduct early morning, late afternoon or lunchtime classes like yoga or aerobics to help employees de-stress and work up a sweat.

  6. Offer a Virtual Fitness Benefit Subscription Service

    Consider partnering with a vendor such as Burnalong to offer your workforce a 12-month subscription to a virtual fitness platform! Burnalong offers a wide variety live and prerecorded exercise classes and programs. They also offer educational seminars and for people of every age, interest, and fitness level.

  7. Sponsor a Virtual 5k Event

    Like most in-person events, many road races have adapted to today’s pandemic and provided a virtual alternative for 5ks, 10ks, etc. Search within your communities for 5k races that have gone virtual! Consider sponsoring your employees’ race entries and supporting a local charity or cause in the process. OneDigital’s annual dash has gone virtual this year, and incorporates other forms of exercise including walking, running, biking, boxing, yoga and more – invite your workforce to join in the fun the week of October 26, and raise funds for a range of nonprofit groups.

  8. Start a Virtual Walking Club

    It takes an average of 66 days for people to adopt an easy habit, like taking a 10-minute walk at lunch. Encourage employees to achieve an average of 10,000 steps a day and recognize the top-stepper on a monthly basis! Buddying up group helps keep people on track, encourages others and helps sustain a long-term behavior change.

  9. Promote Local Parks

    Encourage safe, outdoor exercise by promoting local walking trails and parks nearby by your offices and locations. Encourage family-centered fun with a day spent walking or hiking together.

Discover more ways to support your employee population by checking out the recent Employer Advisory Session: How to Pivot Your Wellbeing Strategy to Combat the Impact of a Pandemic.

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