The folks at The Riley Guide (www.rileyguide.com ), a Web site for job search and career information, asked if I’d give one of their writers space for a piece offering information on starting an office jogging program.
Writer Ben Thomas offers the following tips.
Just as no two offices are exactly alike, no two office exercise programs will be. Every exercise program, however, is united by three common needs: Compelling motivation, workable logistics and desirable rewards. Employees at just about any company can find ways to fit an exercise program into their schedules, given proper preparation and determined follow-through. So here are three tips for launching your office’s very own walking, jogging or running group – and making sure your coworkers stick with the program.
• Tailor your concept
"There two basic angles you can take when launching an office walking or running program," says Michael Sachs, professor in the department of kinesiology at Temple University and past president of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. "One way is to make it something that everyone can do together before or after work, or during the lunch break – go out as a group. The second possibility is to have people do the exercise on their own, and track their own progress." Which of these approaches you choose – and what rewards you choose to reinforce it - will depend on your company’s available time and budget.
• Get psychological
T-shirts, water bottles and free lunches can serve as useful motivators, but as in any significant life change, the ultimate motivation has to come from within each participant. "Different people are motivated in different ways," says Karen Cogan, senior sports psychologist with the United States Olympic Committee. "If people in your office are already thinking about exercise, it may be easy to get them going. But if they’re not really interested in it, it may be hard to get them to keep going over time." Offering encouragements along the way can give fence-sitters that little push they need to jump into the program. When it comes to keeping them motivated over the longer term, "sending out weekly emails and holding group activities is a big help," says Eric Sternlicht, assistant adjunct professor at Occidental College and president of Simply Fit Inc.
• Focus on health
Beyond encouragement and check-ins, experts agree that a clear understanding of exercise’s health benefits trumps all other rewards. "Internal rewards – feeling better, losing weight, staying fit – are the most powerful long-term motivators of all," Cogan says.
"Some employees may also find that a walk or run is a good time for creative problem-solving," Sachs says. "I know I do. I’ll go out for a run for a half hour, and I’ll often have some unexpected insights while I’m out there." Meanwhile, studies have shown that people who exercise 60 to 90 minutes per week live at least two years longer than people who don’t. After all, Sternlicht says, "you don’t just want to be healthy and active right now – you want to remain active and energetic long into your retirement years."
Whether your office provides runners with lavish rewards or just personal encouragement, the core reasons for regular exercise remain the same: Staying trim, lowering stress and raising energy levels. You might also find that an office-wide walking or jogging program brings the side benefits of reduced sick days and increased productivity. But the first step to those benefits is to lead by example – so lace up those sneakers, hit the pavement and see who follows.
Great advice. My own running pretty much is limited to after-hours times, though, and except for races I generally prefer to run on my own, accompanied only by music from my running playlist. Which do you prefer – solo or group runs?
If you’re looking for group events, here are some upcoming races:
• A Jamaica youth mission trip fundraiser for Kiokee Baptist Church, the Jamaica’n Me Run 5K, will be held at Savannah Rapids at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, May 18. Register at http://www.active.com/running/martinez-ga/jamaican-me-run-5k-run-walk-2013
• The second annual Armed Forces Day 5K will be held Saturday, May 18 at Blanchard Woods Park in Evans. Sign up at http://www.active.com/running/evans-ga/2nd-annual-armed-forces-day-5k-2013
• Aiken’s Trolley Run 5K and 10K will be held 8 a.m. Saturday, May 18. Register at http://www.active.com/running/aiken-sc/trolley-run-5k-or-10k-2013
• Here’s a unique one: The Tortoise and the Hare Four-Mile Predictor will be held May 25 on the Greeneway in North Augusta. The race requires participants to guess their time to run the Greeneway – and doesn’t allow them to wear watches or other devices to measure. Prizes are awarded for accurate predictions. Funds from the race benefit Friends of the Greeneway. Register at http://www.fleetfeetaugusta.com/races-2/premier-races/tortoise-and-the-hare-race-form
• The Running for a New Chance 5K will begin at the Lake Olmstead Park gazebo May 25 (anyone have a start time or more information?). Register at http://www.active.com/running/augusta-ga/running-for-a-new-chance-2013
• The Augusta Fights Lupus 5K will be held 7 a.m. June 1 at Savannah Rapids Park. Register at http://www.active.com/running/martinez-ga/augusta-fights-lupus-5k-2013
• The Just Cure IT Run for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society will be at 8 a.m. at Evans Fitness Club and includes a 5K, 10K and a fun run, with $2,500 in cash prizes for division winners. Register at www.active.com/running/evans-ga/just-cure-it---run-for-leukemia-and-lymphoma-society-2013
As always, let me know if you have an upcoming vent you’d like help promoting.
Let’s hit the road!