3 Ways to Bring Your Company-wide Wellness Initiatives Outdoors

Inspire your employees to take their personal health goals to the next level.

No matter the time of year, it’s always good to let your team take in the outdoors. Spending time outside has many benefits, such as reduced stress, but it also improves your productivity back in the office with a boost in concentration, short-term memory, and creative thinking skills [1]. Additionally, 53% of companies would like to create a workplace culture that promotes positive health habits among employees.

Why Companies Are Focusing on the Outdoors

Many companies have realized the benefits of their employees experiencing the outdoors — some writers argue being in nature is “good for the soul and for business.” [2]

Microsoft, for example, built tree houses in which employees can experience nature and work collaboratively [3]. The benefits of nature are also aligning with office design as more companies add elements, such as incorporating natural lighting, to their overall design plan as a means to boost productivity, according to the Sodexo 2017 Global Workplace Trends.

How You Can Help Your Team Get Outside

With such great benefits of being outside, it’s little wonder why organizations would make this shift. Spending at least 1 hour in nature can improve memory and attention by 20 percent, according to research by University of Michigan. Thankfully, there are activities that nearly every organization can do today to increase outdoor participation.

So, to kickstart your company-wide health and wellness goals, here are a few ways you can rally the group to head outdoors.

1. Start an Interoffice Sports League

Sports have always brought people together. As adults, most of us have likely stopped playing formal sports, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop altogether. Nearly 20 percent of adults 25–54 participate in some form of sport or exercise. [4]

So, why not bring that back to work by starting a geocaching or flag football league? It can be a great way to stay active while also connecting with colleagues beyond work. You could even start a walking book club and discuss each month’s book outside on a walk.

2. Set Up Outdoor Fitness Challenges

“Have you gotten your steps in?” That’s a phrase heard all the time. The reason for setting a step goal, like 10,000 in a day, is because we’re wired for challenge. Not only that, but according to one study, getting 10,000 steps in your day also has mental health benefits:

“The results indicated a small but consistent effect on all of these measures of mental health over the term of the program. This effect appeared irrespective of whether a person reached the 10,000-step mark. [5]

Many office buildings have a surrounding track. You could create a goal for your team, such as awarding points or giving a $5 gift card to a local sporting goods store to the first person who walks the track five days in a row. Or perhaps there’s a grocery store on the corner — you can challenge your team to walk to the store at least once a week (and then sweeten the deal with a free healthy drink!).

Walking has great physical and mental health benefits, but it also supports overall well-being.

3. Create Walking Meetings

Speaking of walking, one of the simplest ways to take a few minutes away from the desk is to go for a walk. In fact, you can even have “walking meetings.” Standing meetings are popular, so why not start walking meetings?

Take a look around this week when you’re in your meetings to see which ones could be walking and which ones need to be at your computer. Sometimes regular updates, check-ins, or one-on-ones can happen on the move.

Step It Up!

No matter what league, walking group, or challenge you create, now is the perfect time to start thinking about changing things up and heading outdoors.

Footnotes

[1] Lauren Friedman, Kevin Loria. “11 scientific reasons you should be spending more time outside.” Business Insider. April 22, 2016.

[2] Leigh Stringer. “Take It Outside.” Slate. July 12, 2018.

[3] Natalie Singer-Velush. “Meet me in the trees.” Microsoft. October 12, 2017.

[4] Rose A. Wood. “Sports and Exercise.” Bureau of Labor Statistics. May 2017.

[5] K. T. Hallam et al. “‘Happy feet’: evaluating the benefits of a 100-day 10,000 step challenge on mental health and wellbeing.” BMC Psychiatry (2018).

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