April 1 is like New Year’s Day revisited for dietitians.
Come what may, every April brings an onslaught of people who suddenly realize that shorts and tank tops are just around the corner. Somewhere inside we don’t feel that horrible about not sticking it out - statistically half of us gave up the second week of January!
But now, staring blankly at the clothes we squeezed into last year, we dust off those New Year’s resolutions and try to get serious for one last push before summer.
There are a few ways employers can capitalize on that momentum for a fun wellness initiative at your worksite:
Your job - Print a blank calendar for participants and have them write in the name of the fruit/veggie they eat each day. Extra points if they pick fruits/veggies from every color of the rainbow!
- An apple a day keeps the doctor away. If Americans ate just one more serving of fruits or vegetables per day, this would save more than 30,000 lives and $5 billion in medical costs each year. Challenge your employees to eat one serving of fruits or vegetables each day for the month of April.
Your job - Print a blank calendar for participants to keep track of their progress. At the end, gather insights from your employees about the perceived benefits of health, time and money that came from this challenge.
- Brown bag challenge. Restaurant foods are designed with larger portions, higher fat and carbohydrate content, and higher sodium than similar meals prepared at home. Bringing lunch from home can help with food quality and portion control while also giving you more time to enjoy your lunch break and helping you keep more money in your wallet. For this challenge, participants will track each day of the workweek that they bring lunch from home.
Your job - First, identify what step trackers you will use. A lot of people have a fitness tracker to capture this information. Android users can download SHealth for free, and iPhones come with the Health app already built in. For the rest, you can purchase relatively reliable pedometers for only $2 each.
- Step challenge. Increased physical activity throughout the day can help reduce disease risk, strengthen muscles and bones, improve mental health and mood, and contribute to healthy weight control. Physical activity can also help us combat the hazards of sitting all day, such as sluggish digestion, varicose veins and neck, shoulder, back and hip pain. To encourage physical activity, initiate a step challenge at your worksite.
Since everyone will be starting at a different level of activity, use week one to establish each person’s baseline. During week two, challenge them to increase their steps by 1,000 each day. Week three, add another 1,000 steps per day, and so on for the duration of the challenge.
Some of the most successful programs are with participants who are intrinsically motivated without any prizes. So, don’t worry if there aren’t wellness funds in your budget. If there is money available, consider a small prize for everyone who participates or a bigger grand prize for the overall “winner.” Establish a point system for the challenge and give a raffle ticket for each point earned. Then, have all the raffle tickets entered to win the prize or prizes that are available.
No matter what you choose to do, just remember to have fun. And call if you need more ideas!
Laura Greenhow is the founder of Summerfield Custom Wellness, a Wilmington-based nutrition firm counseling employees toward a shift in health-consciousness.She and her team facilitate programs wherein healthy choices begin to come automatically and are aligned with what the body needs.They see individuals and also work with companies ranging from five to 5,000 employees as they strive for a healthier workforce and a healthier Wilmington.Laura holds a master’s degree in Public Health from UNC-Chapel Hill, with clinical rotations that included New Hanover Regional Medical Center. Learn more at www.summerfieldcustomwellness.com or call (910) 663-5166.