THE BLOG

The Way Most Workplaces Encourage Exercise Is Wrong

09/19/2014 01:06 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:58 EDT
IT Stock via Getty Images

If you are an employer you'll get this blog. Absent employees, present but unable to work at max output, sick, stressed, low energy, our workforce is getting sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Here is the disconnect, from what I can see. A work place wants a healthy environment so they bring in a personal trainer or a fitness class specialist. The reason is usually because the "Health Committee" is chaired by fitness minded people. So that committee brings in their favorite instructor. The hope is that their passion for health and wellness will "rub off" on the rest of the workplace.

So here's an a thought for all you health nuts, like me, who want to see everyone just get healthy. I don't like liver, yes the food. I mean a really don't like it at all. The texture, the taste, everything about it makes my stomach turn. So someone taking me to their favorite restaurant to try the liver, well that's just silly.

Fun fact about liver, is it's high in B vitamins, Iron, and Vitamin A.

Now if I want B vitamins, Iron and Vitamin A, I can get it in a variety of sources. I don't have to eat liver (thank God).

This is also true about health. The gym and high intensity bootcamps is the liver of the health world. Most people don't like it. The people who do try to package it up and share it with people. Not intending to be mean, or forceful about it. Most fitness people actually care about people. The problem is it doesn't come across when they are showing you photos of their washboard stomachs. They legitimately want you to "get the body of your dreams." They want you to eat liver and love it.

Now let's look at health, your workplace, and what needs to happen.

In order to work at your optimal levels you need to cover some bases. I've been doing a seminar series with businesses and putting together simple strategies called "The 4 Pillars of health." We need a focus going on hydration, nutrition, sleep and exercise. Exercise is simply walking, and making sure we use our muscles in the day. Covering those bases, and doing it simply improves the body and the function of our internal organs and hormones drastically.

But you know all this. The burning question is what to do.

In a workplace I really like to encourage two very simple programs.

First -- Find a local chef who understands healthy cooking. Bring them in for a tasting day. Show people how healthy food tastes a lot better than anyone imagined. In Winnipeg, I use Vita Health as a resource. It's a small local chain of health food, and focused supplements. They have a wealth of knowledge on local produce, healthy organic choices, and where to find resources to truly "eat clean."

This video is one of my favourite creative tips for healthy eating.

Second -- Something I like to call "accidental exercise." Getting a walk in but not realizing that's what you are doing, like having a local shelter bring over some puppies to play with. Doing deep breathing and meditation without attending a class, take your Yoga to your office space. Simple things you can do through the day. My hope is to have people wake up and eat breakfast. Take 5 minutes for a small snack and deep breathing. Lunch would be some play time or a walk, and a very simple healthy meal. Afternoon, another simple snack and basic posture correcting.

If you are a HR person or a member of the wellness board try organizing a scavenger hunt. Three tasks a week. Simple things like "A selfie on a noon dog walk," or "A photo of your healthy lunch from a restaurant you walked to." Each week employees complete the tasks they get entered into a draw. Simple things like dinners out, movie passes, game day tickets etc. Make it worth while, and make it fun to be involved. NO MORE WEIGHT LOSS COMPETITIONS.

I'd also like to suggest people ask about fitness and health and wellness patterns during interviews. If you are looking to create a culture of excellence at your work, it's important to know who your leaders are at hiring. I'm not saying don't hire inactive people, I am saying once you hire someone who is active-minded, engage them right away. Have them build up the healthy environment in your workplace.

These are easy ways to bring in the thinking of workplace wellness. I'm fortunate as someone who does presentations and works with corporations that Winnipeg, my home town, has leaders in this at the Government level. I've always got Minister Sharon Blady and the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce's program called "Wellness Works" to fall back on. It let's me reference companies like National Leasing, who are doing great things to make sure their employees always know they are cared for physically and mentally.

Start creating cultures and communities in your workplace that support active living. Doesn't need to be the gym life, it needs to be simple happy movement. Sneak it in, offer programs and ideas that are activity based. Have fun, bring in some puppies or food-based days that people don't even realize is healthy.

Personally, I'm cool with employers tricking their employees into moving and being healthy. But I'm shady like that. Hang around me, and you'll accidentally get super healthy.

@FitCityJordan on Twitter or because pictures speak a thousand words and I like to talk a lot @FitCityJordan on Instagram.

MORE ON HUFFPOST: