Promoting Physical Activity in the Workplace

To reduce inactivity and encourage employees to get moving on a daily basis, designing spaces for physical activity makes it easier for employees to integrate movement into their work week.

Objectives:

  • Reduce physical inactivity
  • Reduce stress levels
  • Increase satisfaction at work
  • Promote daily physical activity

 

Did you know ...

An active employee is 12% more productive than a sedentary employee?1?

Physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death in the world?2?

According to the Government of Canada, adults should get 30 minutes of physical activity per day?3?

And that men and women who sit more than six hours per day reduce their life expectancy by 18% and 37%, respectively?4?

 

Several options are available to employers. We are offering two options that have an average degree of difficulty with respect to implementation, but a significant impact on the goals established.

 

Setting up a fitness room and/or room for group classes

1. Dual-purpose, existing room

You can transform an existing room (a conference room or training room, for example) into a group classroom. Different types of portable equipment can be used, such as a folding table or folding chairs. A floor covering and sufficient ventilation are also necessary. Be creative! All you need is instructors who can come on site to teach during the allocated times, such as yoga, Zumba, karate, kickboxing, or stretching. It remains up to the employer's discretion if employees pay for the classes or whether fees will be covered in full or partially.

2. Dedicated fitness room

If you have a room that could be used specifically for exercise purposes, put it to good use and set up a space where your employees can get moving during the workday. You don't need to invest in large, expensive equipment.

Here is a list of recommended equipment for a fitness or relaxation room:
-Yoga mat
-Stretching mat
-Thera-bands
-Elastic bands or resistance bands
-Medicine balls
-Stability balls
-Small weights (5 to 20 pounds)
-Yoga balls
-Yoga blocks
-Adapted lights
-Mirrors (optional)
-Exercise or stretching posters
-Stationary bikes or treadmills (if your budget allows). We recommend buying commercial-grade equipment.
-An audiovisual system can also be added so that employees can do exercise classes on the internet or DVD.

You can request help from a fitness specialist (kinesiologist) when purchasing equipment. You don't need to buy all of the equipment in the list of suggestions above. You can also send a short survey to your employees to get a better understanding of their needs.

Implementation steps

  1. Choose the room
  2. ​Assess the renovations necessary (floor, walls, ventilation and lighting, if necessary)
  3. Do a survey of employees’ needs and interests (optional)
  4. Determine the equipment needed, based on your budget
  5. Contact your insurance company to find out the legal implications and your responsibilities as an employer. It's a good idea to post a legal disclaimer in the fitness room.
  6. Share the news about the opening through your usual communication channels.

 

1. Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology website. Consulted April 2, 2014.
2. Kohl, Harold W. 3rd et al. (July 18, 2012). “The pandemic of physical inactivity: global action for public health,” The Lancet website. Consulted September 2012.
3. Health Canada.
4. The Lancet Journal

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