Fitness Challenge

Many people work in jobs that are largely sedentary. Though this fact is inevitable, a consequence of it is that many workers are not as healthy as they could be. This makes tackling the low-activity lifestyle critically important when it comes to workplace health and safety. Fitness challenges are a way to take advantage of natural competitive streaks and accomplishment drives to get staff moving.


Run a fitness challenge that gets staff moving, improving their health and safety in the workplace.

What is a Fitness Challenge?

Sitting for long periods of time has been associated with a variety of risks, including diabetes, heart disease and many muscular-skeletal disorders. Despite these risks, habits are hard to break, and it can be difficult to get employees moving. The fitness challenge can be a way to break that inertia and get started on a healthier path. Like the title suggests this activity is a challenge to employees to accomplish set fitness goals. This can range from walking and running to more exotic activities like dragon boating. Incentives and prizes may be implemented as well. By creating a group fitness activity and providing motivating factors employees are more likely to buy-in and make the fitness challenge a success.

How does a Fitness Challenge improve employee engagement and culture?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention approximately 80 per cent of American adults don’t get the recommended amount of exercise per week. This is despite the fact that a lack of exercise has been tied to an array of health risks and lowered productivity. On the opposite end consistent exercise has been tied to higher energy levels, increased cognitive function and improved mood. Employees who participate in fitness challenges could make use of these benefits. Increased mood and energy levels means that staff will have more motivation and likely more to contribute to the workplace, increasing engagement overall.

What are the benefits?

  1. Improved employee productivity due to healthier lifestyle

  2. Greater connection throughout office as employees engage with the challenge and interact with each other

  3. Better health and reduction of safety risks

How do you conduct a Fitness Challenge in the workplace?

How fitness challenges are run can differ greatly depending on the activity. There are, however, several key elements in common that unite the variety of fitness challenges under a shared banner. The challenge is typically run company-wide and should be planned out carefully. It is important that challenge progress is tracked and updated throughout the duration of the event. Furthermore, employee participation should be encouraged through a combination of incentives, event promotion and expressed support from the top executives. Done well, a fitness challenge can be a fun way to get the whole office moving and competing.


Run A Fitness Challenge

  1. Create a fitness panel. This step is not strictly required but can be an aid in the proceeding steps. A set group can also then act as a consistent resource for future fitness challenges. Invite coworkers who might be interested and who are already active so that they can act as fitness advocates. Try to get executive buy-in to grant the event legitimacy and encourage greater participation.

  2. Decide on the activity. Brainstorm with the panel and take feedback from workers as to what they would be interested in. Try to make the activity flexible so that employees of all fitness levels can be involved. For instance, if you decide on a running challenge, offer the option to run a 5k, 10k or a half marathon. Make sure to consider activities that staff already enjoy. Depending on feasibility, more exotic choices like rock climbing could also be an option. Remember to factor in the scale and the extent to which teams will be involved. Some ideas for activities include biking to work, exercising for a set amount of time, and walking or running.

  3. Decide on the challenge. Specify what the challenge will be. You want to set a concrete goal like walking a certain number of steps or running a set amount of times. Here is when you should also decide on how long the challenge will run for, or if it will run until the goal is achieved.

  4. Promote the event. Use company communication channels, emails, posters, and encourage fitness panel members to go out and spread the word.

  5. Launch the event. It is important to track progress in this step, which might mean providing fitness trackers/step counters, using apps or even sharing an excel document to track progress. You want to measure individual and team progress towards the goal. You might also want to create and periodically update a leaderboard in a public company space. Depending on budget, gamification could be implemented. This could mean giving out incentives and prizes for people on the leaderboards every week, or possibly creating milestones that unlock team prizes like a company lunch.

  6. Summarize and share progress. Use the collected progress on whose been contributing and survey people to see how they feel post challenge. You can ask if they’re more energized and happier or if they’ve noticed any health benefits or physical changes. Then consider creating a presentation/report emphasizing the effects of the fitness challenge and tying it into other company health and safety programs to keep the momentum going. Share this with the team.

  7. Incorporate feedback. Survey employees to see how it went and have your fitness advocates talk directly to participants. Incorporate this information for future fitness challenges if you decide to run them.

Reference Material

How to Create a Killer Office Fitness Challenge

Exercise Increases Productivity The exercise effect

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