Don’t Underestimate the Power of Walking
By Glenn Riseley, guest blogger
Riseley is the founder and president of Global Corporate Challenge (GCC), an organization that has helped more than 2,500 organizations achieve positive and lasting employee and business health returns.
A healthcare crisis isn’t just occurring in the legislative arena. Americans are succumbing to obesity and overweight conditions at a record rate. Chronic conditions, such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer and depression are increasing rapidly. Employers face the double threat of lost productivity and healthcare cost increases.
Over the last decade, wellness interventions have quickly caught on in most organizations. Specifically, the promotion of walking increasingly has become a strategic focus for businesses investing in employee health. Broadly accessible, flexible and cost-effective, walking is easy to measure, track and is an effective method to improve workforce health and increase productivity.
In evidence of both walking and workplace wellness intervention effectiveness, an industry study last year “Multi-Business Study into the Effect of Low Impact Physical Activity on Employee Health and Wellbeing 2011” found considerable improvement in the health, performance and productivity of 752 U.S. and UK employees who embarked on a walking-based corporate health program called Global Corporate Challenge. The research was performed by the Foundation for Chronic Disease Prevention in the Workplace and Lancaster University’s Centre for Organizational Health and Wellbeing.
The following positive results of workplace walking programs were noted in the study:
• Forty percent of employees stepped up physical activity to meet a daily 10,000 step minimum (as per World Health Organization recommendation), and 58 percent of workers exceeded that benchmark.
• Fifty-eight percent of all employees lost weight—approximately 6lb 3oz on average—and 10 percent body fat on average. Sixty-two percent reduced their waistline circumference an average of 2 inches and shed especially hazardous abdominal fat. Overall, 48 percent achieved leaner body mass and reduced their BMI to healthier levels.
• Stress levels related to professional and personal concerns dropped by 12-15 percent, including a 14 percent increase in employees reporting little or no stress with work. In addition, fewer employees lost sleep over worry, improving their alertness and productivity on the job.
• Almost a quarter of employees reported feeling better equipped to overcome difficulties, alongside a 13 percent increase in employees rating their ability to adjust to change as “very good.”