Saturday 20 Sep 2014

Information and opinions presented here do not always represent the views of the American Heart Association.

A Little Healthy Competition Never Hurt Anyone

Published: 3:01 pm CDT, May 1, 2012

I’ve been lucky to work for an organization that encourages its employees to live healthy. We have health fairs, monthly and quarterly challenges, a walking path and an onsite gym – complete with a treadmill desk. There’s never a shortage of healthy attitudes and a plethora of workplace wellness events. We help you to become more heart-healthy and we live it too. That’s to be expected, right?

There’s one more thing we do well… competitions. Early in the morning, employees come in throngs with their tennis shoes and non-caffeinated colleagues to get in a few extra steps so their team can earn the title. There may be the occasional smack-talking… err, friendly-banter – but, it’s all in the name of health. And, we live for it.

When I came across this article in the Wall Street Journal, I couldn’t resist reading it.

“In the effort to make workers healthier, employers and insurers have dangled carrots. They’ve threatened with sticks. Now, they are trying games.”

The idea Anna Wilde Mathews writes about is a simple one – borrow techniques from digital games to encourage employees to live healthier, exercise and eat better. It’s like Farmville on steroids, or perhaps on lots of heart-healthy fruits and veggies.

It makes sense. Research shows that for every $1 invested in worksite wellness, companies can receive up to $3 in return. Not shocking enough? Try this one: Reducing just one health risk increases a person’s productivity on the job by 9 percent and reduces absenteeism by 2 percent.

Companies can get their employees moving in a few easy ways:

  1. Become a Fit-Friendly Company.
  2. Implement a Walking Program for employees.
  3. Enroll your company in a Heart Walk.
  4. Enroll your company in the Activity Tracker and have a worksite wellness challenge.

For more details, go to http://www.startwalkingnow.org/start_workplace.jsp.

Let the games begin.

Has your company offered a healthy game to its employees? If it hasn’t, would you participate in one? Tell us in the comments below.