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How To Encourage Fitness In The Workplace

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Sitting at a desk all day is not physically healthy for your employees. So, as an HR manager, you must be able to create a work environment that promotes the professional growth and well-being of your team. This is where workplace fitness comes into play, especially in office-based workplaces where many employees work at desks.

There are many strategies you can use to make your workplace more fitness-friendly, but it takes a lot of work and support to make this a reality.

To make this process easier, we have developed a method to help you transform your office environment so that your employees can maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Sedentary activities and associated health problems

Sedentary jobs, or office jobs, are a type of employment that involves little to no physical activity and typically sits at a desk for most of the day. These workers spend at least two-thirds of their day at a desk and hardly move. In the US alone, there are over 32,350 workers who have desk jobs.

Sitting at a desk for long periods of time can lead to fatigue and cause health problems such as heart problems, diabetes and muscle pain. That's why it's important to take breaks and exercise to stay healthy.

Not only can sitting for too long make you sick, but it also means you're not using up much energy. This can lead to obesity and increase the risk of early death. If you sit a lot, your lower back may also hurt.

Aside from physical health issues, you also need to consider mental health issues such as work-related stress, anxiety, and depression. Health and fitness changes are known to combat stress and depression.

How to promote fitness in the workplace

On average, a person needs about 150 minutes of exercise per week to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Getting your employees to exercise at work can help them feel good and do their jobs well. HR can improve the situation by making the workplace a friendly and healthy place.

Some employees may not like change and prefer to make their own health decisions. But it's important to explain to them why this change is good.

Additionally, you can leverage a fitness-friendly work environment and promote the company culture to potential applicants by highlighting your fitness policies in your job advertisements to attract new talent who believe in the same values.

Benefits of promoting fitness in the workplace

By creating a fitness-friendly environment, there will be benefits for both employees and employers.


  • Improved physical and mental health: Fitness at work will help make sure that your employees are healthy and will help reduce levels of anxiety and depression
  • Reduced stress: Being physically active is a good way to work out the pent-up energy that becomes stress.
  • Lower healthcare costs: When you do healthy things, you’re making sure you don’t get sick as often. Being active can also save you money on healthcare.


  • Better productivity levels: Employees who work out will be better rested and have more energy in general. This will manifest in their work output.
  • More job satisfaction: A benefit like this which is in the interest of employees will make them feel more valued, thus being more satisfied with their jobs.
  • More energy: Due to the body’s cardiovascular system working at a higher rate, your body will have more energy
  • Better morale: Being into fitness can make employees feel good about themselves and healthier. This can also make them more excited and confident.
  • Team building efforts: This is a great way for employees to socialize with each other, and work with each other.
  • Less absenteeism: Employers will take fewer days off because of health improvements, both mentally and physically.
  • Prevent presenteeism: Workers who show up in person are likely to put in more effort into their jobs than before.
  • Employee retention: Employees are more likely to stay in companies that promote the well-being of their staff through benefits that they have in place.
  • Employee engagement: Employees will feel more enthusiastic about work, and will put in more effort in their day-to-day jobs.

Assessment of current conditions

By conducting an assessment, you will gain a better understanding of what should be implemented in your fitness-friendly environment.

Research what's currently popular for staying healthy in the workplace and come up with ideas to share with your employees in a survey. Send the survey to your employees and managers to find out what they think about making the workplace more fitness-friendly.

Think about all the comments and ideas you receive. Also check your team's health status so you know what health issues you need to consider.

As you get the comments, create a guide with all the things you need to do to make the workplace more fitness-friendly.

Transform your work environment to mirror your goals

  • Physical modifications: You can make the workspace better with furniture that’s good for your body. Think about putting in exercise gear that’s easy for staff to use while they work, like a treadmill. If it’s easy to use, more people will probably use it. Browse catalogs and look for the best treadmills that are easy to use and value for money. This equipment can be placed in a fitness-friendly common area so that it doesn’t look out of place. Make provisions for active commuting – including bike parking, showers, and lockers for employees.
  • Wellness program and incentives: Check your team’s health regularly to make sure they get the right treatment if they’re sick. Set up exercise classes and gyms at work for them. Give rewards to employees who are making progress by doing healthy things in their lives.
  • Promoting nutritious diets and mindful eating: Eating right is important for being healthy and fit. Since people often eat at least one meal at work, companies can help by offering healthy food in the cafeteria and putting good snacks in the vending machines. Put water coolers in different places at work to remind people to drink water and stay hydrated.
  • Mental health initiatives: We know that fitness is good for mental health, so it would be beneficial if HR teams put in place mindful activities such as meditation, stress management, and seminars from mental health experts.
  • Provide subsidized access to facilities: If you can’t have a gym at work, think about teaming up with a gym nearby. You can help pay for your employees’ memberships to the gym.
  • Make sure that all fitness measures that you put into place are accessible to persons with disabilities
  • Optimize the space for mental health recovery. Perhaps consider a nap room, or keep plants in the office.


  • After you launch the fitness-friendly workspace, follow up with your employees about what they like and what they don’t. You can make necessary changes based on their feedback.
  • Keep looking at current workplace fitness trends that you can add to your current plans.
  • Keep up with cost-effective healthy snacks to provide for the team to utilize.
  • Make sure that your equipment is of good quality and well taken care of, and follow a routine maintenance schedule.
  • Have the space cleaned daily, but be careful that the cleaning doesn’t affect the machinery. Also, keep sanitary cleaners like wipes or sprays on hand for staff to use.


You can also have your fitness-friendly work environment extended to your remote workers.

  • Encourage employees to use the time previously used for commuting as a designated time to get their exercise in for the day.
  • HR can set up exercise challenges for members to join in. It can be 30-day fitness challenges, etc.
  • You can conduct virtual exercise classes for all staff members to join in via conference call.
  • Conduct fitness fundraisers that help your staff become more involved in community work while getting in some exercises.

The commitment to create a fitness-friendly workspace will lead to a healthier workforce, which will affect the overall success of your company. And don’t forget to mention your new fitness perks in your job descriptions. IceHrm can help with this by creating consistent JD templates that include a benefits section.

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