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The CEO Pledge

By: NCSF  on:  Sep 6 2012
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Lack of physical activity has been cited as a primary contributing factor to the nation’s health problems. Most jobs do not offer adequate physical activity during the day, and the majority of Americans do not fulfill minimum movement requirements in their free time. In an effort to motivate the country to engage in more physical activity The National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (NCPPA) is encouraging Chief Executive Officers (CEO) to pledge to provide their employees with a workplace culture that promotes and supports employee health and wellness through physical activity. People succeed in lifestyle behavior modifications with appropriate structure, motivation and support. The CEO Pledge provides American business leaders the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to physical activity in the workplace by acknowledging that senior management support is the cornerstone to a successful employee wellness program.

The CEO Pledge is a key component of the U.S. National Physical Activity Plan, representing the connection between workplace wellness and employee health. It is well documented that physical activity increases employee well-being, engagement and productivity. Studies demonstrate that consistent and visible support from corporate leaders is critical to the success of workplace wellness and physical activity programs. As part of the pledge, CEOs not only demonstrate a commitment to employees’ health and well-being, but also are assisted by the NCPPA guidelines to provide resources and opportunities for physical activity before, during, or after the workday. The NCPPA provides a list of CEO Pledge Strategies in an effort to help create a workplace culture that promotes and supports physical activity. Since most employees spend most of their day at work, CEOs are well-positioned to inspire and influence their employees to follow their lead and pursue regular physical activity.

There are certainly many ways that a corporate environment can be used to promote employee wellness. Those business leaders committed to signing The CEO Pledge agree to implement at least six of the following strategies to create a culture of physical activity in their workplace(s). Some strategies will certainly fit better into specific business cultures than others, so a mix of strategies from each category – behavioral, educational and environmental/policy - is encouraged to maximize the cultural impact. Some strategies may fit into more than one category, but the overall aim of the program is to maximize employee participation over simply getting those interested in activity to engage in it more frequently. It is important for people to understand that physical activity is not about lifting heavy weights, running long distances or engaging in competitive sports - it is simply about moving and enjoying physical-based activity.

CEO Pledge Strategies

Behavioral Support

  • Offer a physical activity program that includes motivational elements to inspire employees such as employee competitions, team challenges and forms of recognition and/or reward
  • Establish a non-competitive physical activity program, such as a “buddy program” or exercise groups
  • Sponsor employee teams in organized fun runs/walks
  • Integrate other innovative and effective ideas to increase physical activity
  • Support “healthy meetings” such as stand-up or walking meetings, and/or meetings that incorporate stretching or other physical activity

Educational support

  • Provide education and information to employees about the benefits of an active lifestyle
  • Invite experts to conduct regular information sessions in the workplace on physical activity-related topics
  • Promote the health and productivity benefits of avoiding long periods of sedentary behavior (e.g., sitting at a desk for an extended period of time)

Environmental/Policy support

  • Organize on-site fitness classes
  • Reimburse employees for purchases of fitness equipment or physical activity-related programs
  • Offer incentives for physical activity such as gift certificates for equipment and include such incentives in the employee benefit plan when appropriate
  • Provide free or subsidized public transportation passes to encourage walking as part of a daily commute
  • Give free or reduced rate memberships for bike share programs to encourage bikes as a form of transportation
  • Increase the time allowed for lunch breaks or provide flexible scheduling to allow employees to be active during the workday
  • Provide safe and clean facilities, such as showers, changing areas, and bike racks that support physical activity before, during or after the workday
  • Provide clean, safe, and attractive stairwells and encourage their use
  • Create a map of indoor and/or outdoor walking paths that are safe, convenient, and easy to follow near the workplace
  • Offer employees opportunities to wear casual, work-out-friendly attire to work
  • Create an onsite fitness area or reimburse/subsidize the cost of an offsite fitness center membership
  • Encourage employees to take brief activity breaks throughout the workday

The NCSF is an active promoter of physical activity on several levels and is a sponsoring organization on the NCPPA board. The organization will be participating in the CEO pledge later this month in Washington D.C. As a sponsoring organization, the NCSF not only encourages business leaders to commit to promoting opportunities for employees but also encourages everyone to make a personal commitment to participating in appropriate levels of physical activity each and every day.

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