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Communities + Employers = Increased Physical Activity

by NCPPA June 15, 2011

Everyone knows that physical activity is good for us... right? Okay, maybe not everyone, but certainly the vast majority of adults and many, many children, as do policymakers, healthcare professionals, etc. Yet so few of us regularly attain the daily recommendations in the National Physical Activity Guidelines. The million dollar question is: WHY?

The most popular reason listed is time, or lack thereof. For many adults, the amount of time they spend at work and commuting to/from work is in excess of 10 hours a day. Add in other responsibilities - such as children, or perhaps, classes - and there is not much left of their waking hours. While a federal mandate reducing work hours for all would be great, it is clearly not realistic. But, what can be done is to look at how physical activity can be incorporated into the commute and/or the work day, and what role a community plays in helping to make this happen.

Take the commute. There are a variety of ways that physical activity can be integrated into commuting. The National Physical Activity Plan's Transportation and Active Living sector has identified several immediate priorities dedicated to active transportation. Employers, federal and state legislators, as well as communities and individuals themselves must work together if policy change that will encourage active commuting is going to happen.  

Communities can insure that bike racks are installed at transit stations and that commuter parking lots are safe, well lit, and in inclement weather, provide clear sidewalks. Communities could work with employers to institute a bicycle sharing program with locations at local transit stations as well as in areas conducive to places of employment. Such programs allow individuals to "borrow a bike" for a very nominal fee and are increasing in popularity.

And now for the workday... when thinking of communities, we often silo them as their own entities, with their own activities and priorities for serving their residents. We don't often think of them working in partnership with the companies, etc. that may be in their boundaries. Working together with employers, communities can make great strides in helping more people log increased physical activity during the workday. Perhaps a brochure could be developed for those working in the community, highlighting facilities, parks, etc. that are available for physical activity. Another thought is using the employees as focus groups to help determine development and expansion of things like walking trails. Is there a lovely corporate campus headquarter that might be the perfect setting for construction of a non-motorized trail that could serve the needs of both the employees and community residents? Can special rates be offered for a community fitness facility to those that are working in the community but might not be residents? Employees might be new recruiting ground for volunteer youth sport coaches or additional teams for existing or new adult sports leagues.

What ideas do you have for how communities can work together with companies, etc. to make it easier for employees and residents to engage in fitness activities?


6/15/2011 4:40:17 PM #

It's important to support the in-the-field professionals in outreach into their own communities. If you are a fitness professional, do you service the community in which you live? Even if you are not a fitness professional, you can still act as an ambassador of fitness and host walks, educational seminars and free classes for others. With excellent material developed and marketed in tool kits from the government, everybody can educate themselves on how to support and promote physical activity in their local community.

PendaGoddess United States |

7/1/2011 5:02:55 AM #

Its great to see others talking about the importance of incorporating healthy lifestyles into the workplace. I'm sure if employers were more dedicated to encouraging and promoting active employees, they'd see huge benefits. I think having inter-office/department competitions and events (team triathlons, sport tournaments etc.) organized would boost activity among employees and even enhance team spirit. Great article!

Isaac Warbrick New Zealand |

7/20/2011 10:02:24 AM #

I taught yoga at my workplace for two years -- and witnessesed many positive changes in my students, and how they approached the workday. Yoga is a great physical practice that can be done with very little set-up (just a mat and a space large enough to accommodate students) and it is an excellent way to release stress. Postures are accessible and adaptable to everyone.  I'd love to see the development and implementation of a mobile yoga program in the workplace.

Sandi United States |

1/11/2012 2:58:38 PM #

Last Summer i did cheercamp i thought it was really fun they had pizza and subs for all of us and it really was fun we all got together and i was new and i didnt know anyone and they were all really nice thats why i loved it i hope i can do it again .

Kami United States |

1/11/2012 3:46:45 PM #

I think biking is the simplist way to exercise. It's not that difficult, actually. Everyone should exercise more because it's really healthy for you.

Jeeennnnnaaaaa United States |

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