Becoming a Wellness Leader in the Workplace
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Eating a well-balanced diet and exercising most days of the week are actions we try to embody ourselves and promote to family and friends. But do you promote a healthy lifestyle to your coworkers?
Consider becoming a wellness leader in your office. What does being a wellness leader mean and how do you begin? Riva Rahl, MD, a Cooper Clinic preventive medicine physician, discusses how she promotes a healthy lifestyle in the workplace and the benefits it can bring to everyone around you.
What Does It Mean to be a Workplace Wellness Leader?
Becoming a wellness leader at work means setting an example for the other people in your office. That includes promoting healthy eating choices and encouraging coworkers to squeeze physical activity and fitness into their busy lives.
“For me, it means balancing work and fitness along with family,” says Rahl. “It also means encouraging those who need it to get out there and do some sort of physical activity.”
At Cooper Clinic, Rahl says she not only encourages others to stay physically active, but also makes time for herself to exercise. “I also try to recognize when people have made an effort,” says Rahl. “That way, they feel positive about their changes.”
Making Time for Fitness
We may all start the day with the intention of exercising or eating right, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. That’s why it’s important to set an appointment for your workout, just like you would for a haircut or an oil change.
“I try to run almost every morning,” says Rahl. “I like to do it before work because inevitably, something will always come up that gets in the way of a well-planned schedule.” If running isn’t for you, choose an activity you enjoy. Cooper Clinic recommends exercising a collective or sustained 30 minutes a day, most days of the week. Don't have enough time? Rahl recommends doing the exercises in segments of 10 minutes if you don’t have a full 30 minutes in the day to get it done.
“I try to do yoga two or three times a week whenever I can fit it in,” says Rahl. “I also walk the dog with my son, Reagan, and try to do some calisthenics to balance it out.” Calisthenics can include push-ups, squats or calf raises.
How to Get Started
Looking to become a wellness leader at work? Rahl has some advice on how to get started.
“Whenever you’re taking a break, try to incorporate some form of physical activity into it,” says Rahl. “Some people even use their lunch hour to do physical activity.”
Rahl emphasizes that being a leader doesn't mean just doing it yourself, but encouraging others to get involved.
“Ask your coworkers to join a sporting league with you, take a group fitness class together or go on a walk together,” says Rahl. If there are several people at the office who enjoy running or walking, Rahl recommends signing up for local 5K races together.
Encouraging Employee Wellness Programs
“One of the best ways to become a fitness leader is to participate in an employee wellness program if one exists,” says Rahl. “Here at Cooper Aerobics, we're fortunate to have an employee wellness program.”
Our wellness program encourages teammates across the Cooper Aerobics campus to stay healthy and active together. The program includes wellness screenings and engaging activities that reinforce healthy behaviors, often with prize incentives.
"Leaders that put their time, money and energy behind the health of their employees send a clear message to their people—one of care, value and investment," said Lauren Ruzicka, who oversees corporate wellness programs at Cooper Aerobics. "A thriving wellness program can impact physical, mental and social aspects of health. This provides an opportunity for employees to be encouraged, supported and challenged to live their best lives both while at work and at home."
Don’t have an employee wellness program at work? Try suggesting it at your next office meeting and discuss the benefits of creating a healthy work environment. “Once you get involved with that program, you can volunteer to be a leader and set examples for others.”
For more information about Cooper Clinic, visit cooperaerobics.com.