Tuesday, May 26, 2015

To Amy: Thanks! Love, Your Body and Mind

I don’t like working out. I do it anyway because my body and mind thank me afterward. Like a lot of other busy people, my ability to get much-needed physical activity outside of work hours is not ideal. Maybe because I have an older kid who isn’t stroller-bound, or maybe because there are now two of them, my evening neighborhood walks have dropped-off a lot in the last few years. And time seems to go on fast forward in the 30-45 minutes between the end of dinner and the start of bedtime rituals.

So, I thank my lucky stars that my work environment supports physical activity. My boss is super supportive of walking meetings. We have an empty room with a DVD player, some yoga mats, weights, and workout DVDs. The room has the list of exercises for the 7 minute workout – sometimes I just do that two or three times in a row and get pretty sweaty doing so. We even have some classes starting. My supervisor supports employees to flex our schedules to have time for physical activity. We have showers and locker rooms in our buildings, and bike racks for bike commuting. Our stairwells have music and are well-lit. Senior leaders send supportive messages to staff, encouraging physical activity. The state government wellness initiative worked with insurance carriers to give employees a discount in our deductible if we take part in a web-based program that individuals can tailor to their health needs.

Workout room- nothing fancy, but it as everything I need!

Between running around with the kids and a walk or workout for 25-30 minutes per day, I actually think I get the recommended 2 ½ hours of moderate physical activity or 1 ¼ hour vigorous level each week because of all this support. I can accomplish this on most, but not all weeks — the downside of counting on doing this at work is that sometimes I’m just too busy. On those weeks I participate with the kids in the evening doing gymnastics shows, tag, dancing, running around outside, or Simon says. I’ve had dreams of creating a seven minute workout that parents can do with kids…they make great weights until about age two.

When I first started here 10 years ago, none of this existed — and I didn’t need it because I had time to go the gym or walk after work (I didn’t like going to the gym, either, but I did it anyway). At that time, I didn’t understand the potential impact of worksite wellness on physical activity, especially for those with limited time due to a long commute, family duties, or a multitude of other reasons. This hasn’t happened overnight — it’s taken a lot of effort by internal wellness teams to create policies, and support from employees and leadership to develop a culture that accepts and even encourages us to be active at work.

For more information on physical activity and worksite wellness, check out these links:

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