5 Ways to Create Workplace Wellness Challenges

Most people spend at least 8-10 hours per day at work and that is a huge part of the day. What we do at work makes a huge impact on us, and that includes our health and wellness. Long work days, commutes and unhealthy work environments make it difficult to meet personal health and wellness goals, but workplace wellness challenges have been proven to help increase healthy behaviors around nutrition, exercise, mental health and even tobacco use.

So, why wait? You can use your coworkers’ support while trying to meet your own goals. Here are some ideas on workplace wellness challenge ideas to start.

1. Fitness Wearable Challenges

There is one thing we know. Those who work at desk jobs tend to move less, so it is important to think of how you can increase everyone’s physical activity in a way that is motivating. There are so many fitness wearables on the market that I find it almost impossible to find someone who doesn’t own an Apple Watch, FitBit, Garmin, etc. These devices can be passive and just worn for you to track workouts, or they can be a way to create competition at work while trying to increase physical activity on your team. If you and your friends have Apple Watches, you can use the app “Challenges – Compete, Get Fit” where you can build your own group challenge. The more you move, the more you get points.

Other ideas using wearables include:

    • Step Challenge: Rack up the most steps in a certain amount of days.
    • Exercise Minutes: Get the most exercise minutes while still allowing for 1-2 rest days.
    • Stand Challenge: Spend at least one minute per hour while at work standing. Track how many hours over a 15-day period.
    • Workout Challenge: How many workouts can you complete in 30 days?

2. Food Tracking Challenges

While meeting your exercise goal is not only rewarding but provides endorphins, forming healthy eating behaviors doesn’t tend to get the same response when eating a carrot over a cookie. However, we do recognize that good nutrition is super important, not only for weight maintenance but for preventing chronic disease and even having proper energy levels throughout the day at work. Have your team track their intake and you can set some challenges or use a scoring system to form a leaderboard.

Here are some ideas:

  • Refined Sugar-Free: Give one point to every person per day they go sugar-free. Negate a point if they have some sugar.
  • Points Per Serving of Vegetables: Give one point for every one cup raw or ½ cup cooked of vegetables.
  • Bring Your Lunch From Home: Give five extra points for a lunch brought from home.
  • No Processed Food: Give five points for every day that does not include processed food.
  • Fiber is Extra: Give an extra point for every 5 grams of fiber consumed.

3. Water Challenge

Increasing hydration is one easy challenge that is much more effective than you think. Our bodies are 80% water and being properly hydrated helps decrease fatigue and consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, as well as prevents overeating.

Have your team download some of these water logging apps to track their progress.

4. Class Challenge

Need a little more motivation? Start a fitness class challenge. ClassPass’ Corporate Wellness Program can connect your company to over 10,000 fitness studios and gyms around the world. A class challenge can be done in a variety of ways including: most classes taken or most studios visited in a designated period of time. Plus, classes are a great way to have some fun with your coworkers outside of the office. To find out more about ClassPass’ Corporate Wellness Program, click here

5. Work Break Walking Challenge

It has been reported recently that sitting may be the new smoking. Even if you work out for one hour per day, sitting the rest of the day still increases your risk of cardiovascular disease — so it is important to take some breaks. Have your team set a challenge of going on a walk every day of the month for at least 20-30 minutes. Walking meetings are not a bad option!

6. Meditation Challenge

When most people think about health and wellness, they immediately think of nutrition and exercise, but mental health is a big area of health that is often overlooked. The amount of stress and anxiety linked to work expectations can be crippling for employees. And if it is not work stress, it can often be stress at home. One proven way to help decrease anxiety and stress is frequent meditation. Thanks to some apps like Headspace and 10% Happier, you can start your meditation journey today. Challenge your team to meditate daily for at least 10-15 minutes for two weeks. There may be a new sense of calmness that comes to the break room.

There are so many ways to incorporate health and wellness challenges at work — it just takes some creativity and throwing ideas out there! The main thing is to keep it fun, lighthearted and easy. Remember to create challenges that do not exclude others. Be aware of limitations team members might have and create alternate challenges for them. In no time, your whole team will be pictures of health!

Gabriella is a registered dietitian living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She currently works in corporate wellness as a dietitian and overall wellness coach. She also runs a food blog called Macrobalanced, where she shows people that healthy and balanced eating can be interesting and tasty! She enjoys all things fitness from lifting heavy weights in the gym to hitting the barre. Nothing is off limits as long as sweat is involved. When she is not cooking or sweating, she is playing with her dog Maui, a lively German Shepherd. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook.