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Health Department Helps Businesses Create Active Worksites
Event participants try out desk fitness routiesWould you like to work in an office that encourages you to dance, lift, stretch, step, bike or walk during the workday to help you live a healthier life? Research shows that physical inactivity during the workday is one of the major causes of increased weight gain however, providing a work environment that supports active lifestyles is just one step to improve employee health.

In an effort to create active worksites, Mecklenburg County Health Department provided trainings, networking opportunities and resources to worksite wellness administrators and service providers in September. The trainings featured guidance from experts regarding developing walking programs, policies to support active workplaces and demonstrations of activities that can be done at work.

Most worksite wellness coordinators consider implementing a walking program at some point during their programs and the Working Toward Wellness team provided guidance and resources to help them select the best possible program for their employees.
  • Drawing from the lessons she has learned with the City of Charlotte’s walking program, Christina Fath, City of Charlotte Wellness Coordinator, shared considerations when choosing to begin a walking program at work. She discussed the pros and cons of pedometer use, different methods of data collection and which employee populations seem to participate in these types of programs.
  • Sophia Marshall, Employee Wellness Coordinator at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte shared details about their successful online walking program and how it has grown over the last few years.
  • Working Toward Wellness Coordinator Julie Jackman presented the American Heart Association’s Start Walking program guide as a free, program to help worksites get started. She also presented policies to support active workplaces such as Flexible Work Schedules for Physical Activity, Physical Activity Participation Waivers and Guaranteed Ride Home Policy for those that bus or bike to work.
Other Working Toward Wellness team members introduced a number of worksite activities that can be done at the office. Attendees moved and grooved through a Desk Zumba class, showed their dance skills during the Wii Dance Party and learned how to walk and share during a walking meeting. The City of Charlotte brought in a Charlotte Area Transit System Bus Bike Rack to show how easy it is to bike and bus to work and provided a new comprehensive bike route map they recently published. Participants relaxed during a Stretching Class which can help reduce injury due to repetitive job skills and rejuvenate employees during the workday. Participants enjoyed learning about the portable fitness center or Fitness-In-A-Box and tried out the under desk bicycle, stretch bands and weights. A Step Station was set up to demonstrate how to do a full body workout in the stairwell and a Desk Fitness station showed how to use fitness bands at your desk. All the activities are low cost, low impact and easy to implement at a worksite and the participants enjoyed learning new ideas to take back to their workplace.

A walking meetingThe event ended with an opportunity to take a walking meeting through the Irwin Creek Greenway and a discussion of connecting worksites with local greenways, parks and recreation facilities. As participants walked past the Irwin Creek Community Garden they learned about opportunities to garden at work by sponsoring local school gardens, creating small workplace container gardens or starting a workplace raised bed garden. Gardening at work increases physical activity, access to healthy produce during the workday and provides a sense of community for the workplace.

Overall, the Working Toward Wellness event showed local worksites that creating an active workplace doesn’t have to be complicated - there are many low cost, simple things worksites can do to increase activity at work in order to create a healthier workplace for their employees.

For more information on creating an active workplace explore our physical activity and building a healthier work environment content or contact Julie Jackman, Working Toward Wellness Program Coordinator at 704-432-4526 or via email.

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