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3 Minutes a Day for Workplace Wellness

Sitting is the new smoking. Including repetitive, calculated breaks during the day that get blood flowing promotes wellness across organizations.

Did I get your attention with that? Just 3 minutes a day can improve my well-being? I realize that many of the Thrive Global readers may have a workout regimine they subscribe to. I get it: I spent 12 years as a professional soccer player in Finland and had my workouts lined up for me over the years.

But desk work meant a major change in lifestyle and demonstrated to me that sitting is the new smoking. Study after study shows the health consequences of our convenient lifestyle and the way we work in offices. Sitting too long increases your risk of chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Long hours at a time in chairs is just plain bad for your health.

So we at Raisoft devised a solution: Create a wellness app that engages the company to take what we call a Smart Break during the day. It’s a 3-minute break that includes stretching and basic cardio movements meant to help workers sitting for a long period of time. With the blessing of our occupational physiotherapist, it is designed to be easy to use and build community in the workplace. Other companies are engaging with it too, as companies understand the positive impact being proactive about wellness has on both company culture and employee health.

Here are three lessons we have learned in our effort to create a smart break time for employees that could come in handy for any HR director or COO looking to increase productivity and create a wellness culture.

1. Make the program easy to use

With phones and tablets at our fingertips and fitness apps all around us, it is important to make workplace wellness something easy to use. Making a wellness program overly complicated may deter employees from actually engaging in it. Keep it simple and something that employees will want to use.

2. Make the program short

While you want to encourage wellness, you also realize that employees are busier than ever before. They have shorter attention spans (I mean, email, Slack channels, phones are always dinging) so make the wellness program really short

That’s why we went with 3 minutes per break for our Smart Break app. It’s long enough to get the blood flowing and perform several movements, but not so long where it becomes cumbersome or takes time away from major projects and deadlines. It’s essentially the length of a trip to the kitchen to get a Keurig coffee made.

3. Make the program communal

Much in the same way people like to go to the gym together and have “workout buddies,” it also works well to have wellness buddies at work. The Smart Break app we designed is meant to be done in community — friendly competition is built into it to track who is taking the most smart breaks over periods of time.

One interesting example of taking the wellness competition a step further: A real estate broker had her team partake in a wellness challenge right after the New Year. It included a list of things to do and not do and mark scores for when the team member did them (for example, exercise 30 minutes a day or avoid caffeine for the day). It became a friendly competition among real estate agents who were “competing” for gift cards (and also wellness bragging rights). 

As a company or organization looking to promote wellness, the first step is to do just that. Get started with a program and get your employees engaged. Inspire them to stay healthy during work hours. Encourage people to physically get up out of their seats and take a break. If you’re looking for tips on how to make that break smarter, I’m here for you.

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