If you’re old enough to know what Geritol is, you may remember their TV commercial of yesteryear that showed a hale and hearty woman farmer declaring, “When you’ve got your health, you’ve got just about everything.” It was true back in the days of grainy television and corny Madison Avenue advertising, and it’s true now.
We’re a culture striving to thrive, to live longer, to be more productive. We are a people on the move.
But not really.
Consider these statistics from Just Stand: 3.2 million deaths every year are directly relatable to physical inactivity, and failure to move our bodies enough is the fourth risk factor for death worldwide.
We’ve all visited sick friends or sat with declining older relatives, and lamented all the opportunities they would miss for picnics in the sun, world travel, or just working out in their yards because of health issues. We don’t want that day to come any sooner than it has to for the people we work with every day.
And yet, we tend to sit in airless conference rooms, ride elevators to windowless cubicle farms, and drive our cars right up to the closest parking spaces in concrete parking lots. That’s how most of our working time tends to be spent, and it’s a waste and a shame.
With that in mind, I’ve got a few suggestions for ways you can affect your own and your employees’ overall well-being and health, just by getting outside and moving around more.
1. Take a “walking meeting” instead of a sitting one.
Let me start by saying, not every employee is physically able and shouldn’t be required to walk. Make your first priority to ensure that you accommodate those with mobility issues before you think of anyone else.
Once you’ve given that due consideration, think about getting your team outside or into the hallways, moving together while you talk. It’s amazing what a break from the routine can do. It’s also refreshing that they can’t be nose-first in their laptops or phones while somebody is talking, or at least not as easily as when they’re sitting down.
2. Schedule two hours a week in nature for your team.
Scientific Reports recently found that nature time impacts health, no matter if people are young or old, healthy or carrying long-term health problems. Spending two hours a week in nature “significantly” increased the chance that they reported being in “good health or high well-being.”
Is there something you or your colleagues can do at a park or nature center that they’re currently doing in an office? Can you spend 17 minutes a day out in the trees, at a beach, or in the countryside?
3. Let people schedule exercise into their official work day, not outside it.
The American Medical Association states that 80 percent of Americans don’t get the minimum amount of exercise they need each week. How much is that? Only 30 to 60 minutes a day of moderate activity. Yet you know if you’ve ever tried to set up your own exercise program that it can be a scheduling nightmare. The gyms are crowded and streets are dark before you start your commute, but you’re hungry and exhausted and need to check in with your family after the day ends. How about letting people schedule walks, runs, fitness classes, and trips to the gym or the pool during the normal 9-to-5 work day? Think how much they’ll be energized when they come back in, and how much it will encourage them to move more if it doesn’t take a bite out of sleep or family time.
What do you get in return? A healthier, happier, better-balanced, and more physically capable team–including yourself. And, as that woman memorably said in the commercial, that’s just about everything. (Want to see her? This is the ad, with the farm woman at 1:15.)