How to make time for fitness in a 24/7 workplace

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You may have heard this saying recently: “Sitting is the new smoking.” Some Americans are lucky to stay active, but many find themselves sitting, on average, 10 hours a day.1 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80 percent of adults in the U.S. are not getting the minimum recommended amount of exercise on a regular basis.2


Employees feel too busy to exercise

Wellness programs frequently promote exercise to employees, but both employers and employees have identified “lack of time” as the number one reason for low participation in these programs.3 Although companies that have invested in wellness want to improve the health of their employees, it is sometimes work itself that drives people to become overly busy and stressed. A Harvard Business School survey found that 94 percent of individuals worked at least 50 hours a week, and technology has only helped to extend business hours beyond the traditional “9 to 5.”4

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Exercising the right to exercise

If organizations want to reduce costs related to poor well-being (healthcare claims costs, losses from low productivity and absenteeism, disability, etc.), they don’t just need to encourage employees to exercise – they also need to encourage them to take the time to exercise. Fortunately, organizations can do exactly that by instilling the right culture at work, which can help promote overall well-being and remove barriers to a physically active life.


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Fitness can improve work-life balance

While it would seem that exercise is just another obligation that working Americans have to add to their lives, research shows that exercise can actually help with work-life balance. Business school professor Russell Clayton found in his research that those who exercised regularly “were less likely to experience conflict between their work and home roles.”5 There are two reasons for this: 1) exercise eases stress, allowing people to become more effective and focused, and 2) exercise raises a person’s perception of “self-efficacy,” the belief that one is capable of taking on challenges and getting things done.


A how-to: Get employees up and moving

Organizations may employ a number of tactics to encourage higher levels of physical activity. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

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  • Make it easier to walk at work by looking at the worksite environment. Are the stairwells accessible? Does the campus have enough walkable areas? Simple things like a fresh coat of paint, better lighting and some landscaping can promote more walking at work.
  • Make it easier to walk at work by examining the culture. Institute practices such as walking meetings, stretch breaks and wellness challenges at work. Some businesses have invested in technology that allows them to track employees’ levels of physical activity, and the technology uses the real-time data to drive fun competitions between individuals and teams.
  • Use program communications to appeal to busy people. Consider offering content with titles such as, “The 15-minute workout,” “Time hacks to exercise more,” “Challenge: Beat your coworkers for the most steps today,” or “Easy ways to sneak in another 500 walking steps to your day.”
  • Sometimes, people need a nudge to remember their commitment to better health. Some mobile apps and wearable devices can track physical activity and give people reminders throughout the day to engage in healthy habits, such as exercise, drinking water, and going to bed at an appropriate time. More robust apps can engage employees with features such as challenges and digital coaching.
  • Adopting new lifestyle habits can be less of a challenge with a health coach. Working with one can provide individuals with a customized plan, as well as follow-up to encourage them to stay on track toward their personal goals. Many health coaching programs help individuals with exercising more, managing weight or a health condition and eating better.



For more information about how Humana can help your organization with health and productivity in the workplace, contact Rhonda Bagby at or 504-219-5058.



  1. “Health experts have figured out how much time you should sit each day."
  2. “CDC: 80 percent of American adults don’t get recommended exercise.”
  3. 10090 EIU Humana Wellness Effect Final 021216
  4. “Why is everyone so busy?”
  5. “How Regular Exercise Helps You Balance Work and Family.”




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