Walking is probably the easiest, most cost-efficient activity any organization can support for mind/body well-being. Almost 100% of the population can do it — requiring only comfortable shoes, a place to walk, and the time. If you’re not putting a major emphasis on walking in your wellness program, you’re out of step with the current research reinforcing physical and mental health.
Even if you don’t have the budget to take advantage of turnkey programs like 10K-A-Day or Walktober, there’s a lot you can do for little to no cost:
- Walking shorts. For many sedentary people, carving even 30 minutes out of their day is too much of a commitment at first. So encourage them to take short walks of as few as 10 minutes. Print small “walking shorts” cards they can use to record strolls of 10 minutes or more and deposit in drop boxes around work areas. Hold a weekly drawing for a random prize that supports continued walking.
- Walk this weigh. Implement a healthy weight program, with 90% of its focus on walking. Keep the nutrition part of it very simple, by suggesting eliminating sugar-sweetened beverages, reducing refined carbs, and boosting vegetable and fruit consumption.
- Walks of life. Walking can be therapeutic, almost spiritual. Encouraging individuals to use their walk time to reflect on life’s meaning, purpose, and value is an ideal way to support physical and emotional health.
- Walking routes. This idea is as old as wellness, but it’s surprising how few programs maintain walking routes for main work locations. Simply posting 1- to 5-mile routes at building entrances can encourage walking or sharing routes created on Google maps.
- If the shoe fits… they’re more likely to keep walking. People who suddenly take up walking can be turned off by ill-fitting, uncomfortable shoes. Kick off all new walking initiatives with a seminar by a shoe expert.
- Shoe me the money. Negotiate discounts or coupons from local walking shoe vendors in exchange for free advertising in conjunction with a new walking initiative.
- Charity walk. Host or participate in a walk to raise money for a local charity. Set goals for participation, mileage, and dollars.
- Who’s your buddy? Encourage partner walks by awarding random monthly prizes to those who walk together at least 10 times.
- A chance to WIN! Host Walk Wednesday routes where employees pair up to complete a pre-defined route either before work or during the noon hour. Greet them at the half way point with door prize tickets they can deposit at the end of the walk for a chance to win some wellness swag or gift cards.
- Follow the leader. Recruit executives to rotate in leading a weekly or monthly walk. Make it an event complete with a group photo posted on your website and a few door prizes.
The list could go on… but the point is that walking has emerged as such an important health-inducing activity; it just makes sense to direct a large share of resources to get people walking in your organization.
HES Account Management Team Leader, voracious reader, author, and over-the-top Crimson Tide fan.