By Ana Reisdorf
Our increasingly sedentary jobs have led many Americans to become incredibly inactive, which may be especially true for small business owners who sometimes find themselves working around the clock. The average American only walks between 3,000-4,000 steps per day—that’s less than half of the recommended number of 10,000 steps.
Walking 10,000 steps per day has been shown to reduce a variety of health-related issues and can even help increase productivity. That can equal big savings for a business owner. But how can you make time within your workday and encourage staff to be active as well?
Start an Activity Tracker Program
This may seem obvious, but you don’t know how many steps you’re taking if you’re not tracking your steps. Devices like the Fitbit, the Apple Watch (and even most smartphones) can count steps. To motivate yourself and your staff, consider implementing a reward program for active employees who reach monthly goals, and encourage teams to track their mileage and keep each other motivated.
Schedule Planned Walk Breaks
There are several ways to break up steps throughout the day. You can aim for three walks during the day: a morning walk, lunch-break walk, and a post-work walk. To hit the daily goal, you will need to walk a little over 3,000 steps at each of these walks. Depending on pace, this will likely take around 30 minutes at each interval, one of which occurs during the workday.
Can’t spare 30-minutes three times a day to walk? Try a shorter amount of time every hour. Over an eight-hour day, take a 10-minute break every hour, with 1,000 steps each time, for a total of 8. That leaves 6,000 steps at the end of your workday. Ending your day with a quick, 20-minute walk after dinner can help you reach your 10,000-step goal daily.
Getting in these planned walks will take some diligence and awareness. Set alarms on your computer or phone for reminders.
From taking the elevator to parking near the office entrance, we fill our days with shortcuts to save time. To get in those 10,000 steps, skip the shortcuts:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Park at the far side of the parking lot.
- Walk to the bus station instead of driving.
- Skip the lunch delivery and walk to pick it up instead.
Make a list of the little shortcuts you take each day, and make a plan for reversing them. You may be surprised at how many steps you can add to your day.
Many of us sit at our desks with little personal interaction. We send an email when a face-to-face discussion would be just as effective. We rarely venture to another coworker’s desk to ask a question or walk to the breakroom for a short break.
Socializing and interacting with coworkers (within reason, of course) can help add steps during the workday. Walk to an employee’s desk instead of sending an email. A few times a day, walk to the breakroom. Consider asking a staff member to take a lunchtime walk with you, which can be much more motivating than hoofing it alone. Add that scheduled walk to your calendar, and set a reminder.
Make Walking a Part of Office Culture
Who says meetings have to happen around a conference table? Start suggesting “walking meetings” to get the blood and ideas flowing at the same time. Research suggests that walking meetings may not only help benefit employee health, but they can also boost inspiration and productivity among workers. You can also swap the client lunch for a round of golf or a boxing class.
Simply setting a good example for your employees may help inspire them to get moving as well. You can also motivate each other by keeping track of steps as a group. Set up a whiteboard to monitor each other’s 10,000-step goal each day. Holding each other accountable (and inserting a little competition) can help promote a healthier office culture.
With a little bit of awareness and motivation, squeezing in those 10,000 steps will soon become second nature, and you may see increased productivity and motivation in yourself and your employees.
Ana Reisdorf is a licensed dietician and nutrition writer for Walgreens, where you can find a variety of vitamins to supplement a balanced diet. She hopes her advice helps to inspire healthy habits including exercise at home and throughout the work day. Although it is intended to be accurate, neither Walgreen Co., its subsidiaries or affiliates, nor any other party assumes for loss or damage due to reliance on this material. Walgreens does not recommend or endorse any products, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned in the article. Reliance on any information provided by this article is solely at your own risk.
- Yuenyongchaiwat, Kornanong. “Effects of 10,000 steps a day on physical and mental health in overweight participants in a community setting: a preliminary study.” Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy20.4 (2016): 367-73. http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S1413-35552016000400367&script=sci_arttext
- “10,000 steps a day: Too low? Too high?” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 23 June 2017. Web. 22 July 2017. http://www.mayoclinic.org/es-es/10,000-steps/art-20317391?p=1.