Wellness at Work: National Walking Day 2014

Last week was National Walking Day, and around 500 staff members at my company laced up their walking shoes to take steps toward a healthier work place. Last year the wellness program that I run was in its VERY early stages, so we were only able to post one little Intranet article on the benefits of walking. However, if you check out last year’s F&F post, I said “maybe next year we’ll be able to have a company wide event.” And this year we did it! Staff from nine different buildings, including Atlanta and Minnesota and even our overnight staff, joined the American Heart Association in challenging ourselves and our nation to get heart healthy and fit.

Here are some pictures of the different walks throughout the day:

National Walking Day Framingham

National Walking Day LB

National Walking Day: Indoor WalkNational Walk Day AtlantaNational Walking Day EBH

Each walk was just one mile in length, but since we wanted to make sure there would be an option for everyone, staff could choose whether to take part in a leisure walk, an intermediate walk, or a speed walk. The point wasn’t to note how fast or slow anyone went, but just to encourage people to get out there and move, regardless of fitness level. For the sedentary and/or deconditioned, getting up and just walking and moving more is the way to go to make small, manageable changes toward a healthier lifestyle.

National Walking Day Norwood Westwood

National Walking Day SCNational Walking Day Mn

National Walking Day SCNational Walking Day Canton

My day was made when a staff member sent me this email after she participated in one of the scheduled walks:

I want to thank you, and all of the rest of the Wellness Works team, for putting this event together. It was a rough start to the day, and my stress level increased throughout the morning. Taking 30 minutes away from it all to get outside and get moving has reinvigorated me! I feel like I can tackle the rest of what my day has in store with a new attitude and more energy. All too often, the pressures of the day keep me from thinking about taking a break. A company wide initiative like this motivates me to try to make a mid-day walk a regular part of my schedule. Thank you for the encouragement and motivation.

When all is said and done, THAT is why I love working in the wellness industry.

–Let’s chat–
Did you celebrate National Walking Day this year? Did your company do anything to honor the day? Do you make a point to take walking breaks during the day? What will you do to move more today?

For more posts on wellness at work:

Wellness at Work: Walking Wednesdays

Yesterday I worked out of our Fall River site, which may sound like a pain because it’s a much longer commute from the Boston area, but I don’t mind it because it’s a nice excuse to see my family that lives down there.  After my work day, I met up with Papou and Auntie Paula at the new Jerry Remy’s.

Fall River

Papou2

I ordered a delicious summer berry salad to start.  I haven’t had poppyseed dressing in so long!  I also enjoyed a turkey burger (sans bun) and some sweet potato fries.  Yum.

Jerry Remy's Berry Salad

Jerry Remy's Turkey Burger

It was nice to catch up with my family.  Auntie Paula and I spent a lot of time talking about work site wellness programs, as she has been tasked with creating a wellness program at her work as well.  We talked not only about different ideas we’re each trying to carry out, but we also talked a lot about resistance.  We mentioned the barriers and challenges that I’m sure every company faces in the infancy of their wellness programs (executive buy in, worries about cost, what’s the long-term benefit), but we actually spent quite some time discussing resistance at the staff level.

For example, Auntie Paula recently created a lunchtime wellness event that she dubbed the “lunchtime walk, run, or jog.”  She made signs, everyone seemed excited about the hype, and then guess what?  A whopping one person showed up.

How sad.  But I think this happens often.  Of course, if a wellness culture is promoted from the top down at a company it’s probably not as bad, but people always have an excuse to make.  That’s what happened with Auntie Paula – she heard it all!  It’s too hot.  It’s too cold.  It’s raining.  I’m tired today.  I’m busy today.  I forgot my sneakers.  Maybe tomorrow.  Monday.  But is there really anything truly magic about Monday?  There’s always going to be something you could make an excuse over.  Self included!

don't make excuses make progress

It’s mind-boggling to me the excuses people are willing to make, whether it be in regards to a work site wellness program, cooking a healthy meal at home, or actually using a gym membership.  I’m even going to go out on a limb and say that in the time spent making excuses, someone could go for a ten minute brisk walk and complete 1/3 of their recommended daily physical activity for the day! Nevermind the benefits they’d feel in terms of productivity, energy levels, stress levels… the list goes on.  Or if you add up the time spent on the Internet, yakking away, in the lunch line, etc…. don’t complain to me about not having time.

its-not-about-having-time-its-about-making-time

Oy!  I could go on and on about this all day because it drives me nutsBut that would be negative, and I’m here to encourage and foster excitement and passion for a healthy lifestyle, not gripe.  So instead I will tell you that the key with obtaining buy-in from those who make excuses all the time is accepting them where they are.  Accepting that they simply aren’t ready for big changes or commitment.  And that’s where starting small with something manageable is key for lasting changes.  This is a key component behind the beauty of wellness coaching.  And it works.

Instead of hosting a big lunchtime event, or pushing for activity every day, I have recently implemented “Walking Wednesdays” with my group at work.  I try to increase my steps in many other ways during my workday, but for those that need that extra push, Walking Wednesdays is just once a week and provides a group camaraderie and motivation aspect.  And you just have to know how to respond to the excuses.

No time?  Use it as an opportunity to discuss an upcoming project or brainstorm with a co-worker.
Raining?  Let’s take the indoor route instead.
Not ready for stairs?  Walk a lap around the building, take one flight today.  Next week, go for two.
Too cold?  Here, you can borrow my jacket.
Have another meeting then?  I’ll go with you now instead so you don’t have to miss out.

You also have to know when to just let something be.  Please don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely no issue at all with people just starting out, at a beginner level, inexperienced, whatever.  I don’t care if you are the fittest person in the entire world or if you’ve never worn a pair of sneakers in your entire life.  I just get frustrated when people don’t just try… because in all aspects of life, not even just in regards to wellness, just trying and giving something your best is SO important.

I’ve said before that one of the easiest (and cheapest!) ways to get people up and moving more is simply by walking.

meditech

And I’ll be out there, every Wednesday (at least).  Work friends, I hope you’ll join me.

Do you know anyone that always makes excuses?  Do any of you work for companies that offer wellness programs?  If so, I’d love to connect and find out more about what’s offered, challenges faced, and get some new ideas!

For more of my “Wellness at Work” series, check out these posts:

Wellness at Work: National Walking Day 2013

Before I jump in to this Wellness at Work post, I want to see how my April Arms Challenge participants feel today.  What did you think of yesterday’s triceps superset?  I know that tricep plank holds are my new favorite move, that’s what I learned!

Moving on… did you guys know that today is National Walking Day?  The American Heart Association recognizes this day on the first Wednesday in April every year.  That’s today, my friends!  And people across the country are uniting to take steps (literally) toward living healthier lifestyles.

national walking day

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As we know, physical inactivity is a huge problem.  Seventy percent of Americans actually don’t get enough exercise.  Pretty scary if you ask me.  So what can YOU do to fight against this epidemic, especially in the work place where too many of us are sedentary for most of the day?

Bring a pair of sneakers to work
Take a walk before you sign in for the day, during your lunch break, or after work.  Encourage a group walk with your team, and schedule it into the day’s events.

Map out a route
Nicer weather is right around the corner, people!  Explore what walking paths or options surround your office building.  Check out how you can walk indoors too, in case of inclement weather.

Find a friend
Enlist a co-worker or group of colleagues to keep you on track with your walking goals.

Take the stairs
Did you know you can burn about six calories per flight of stairs walked?  Every lit bit helps, and it all adds up, right?!

Wear a pedometer
This inexpensive tool can help you track how many steps, on average, you take each day.  Then you can start increasing your goal each week!

Today at work, my group is honoring National Walking Day by taking a 30 minute team walk during our lunch hour.  I’m excited for it, especially since Wednesdays are usually my off day, so the walk can count as my active rest.  I think it would be really cool if a company united all of its employees and had a company walk!  Maybe next year…

I know the workouts that I post on F&F are generally geared to the more intermediate to advanced exerciser.  I post modifications all the time for beginners, but I’ll be honest.  Interval training and all my crazy circuit workouts can be super intimidating as a place to begin.    So if you are brand spankin’ new to the fitness world, and just looking for somewhere to start, I highly suggest beginning with walking.  It’s easy, free, can be done anywhere without equipment, and has the lowest drop-out rate of any exercise program out there.  Plus, it has tons of benefits!

walking

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To help you get started, I found a free six-week program posted on the American Heart Association’s website.  This program targets a beginner walker who wants to simply improve their overall health and increase their energy, and the walks begin at ten minutes or less a day and gradually work their way up to thirty minutes of more.  If you are interested, click here!  The site also has some programs geared toward more advanced folks, and no matter what level you are at, you can print a walking calendar too to get started today and keep yourself on track.

Is anyone’s company recognizing National Walking Day?  How will you be making the commitment?  Anyone have any good walking workouts they’d like to share?

For more of my “Wellness at Work” series, check out these posts:

Have a good one!