If your company is still in the early stages of organizing a wellness program for your workforce, promoting the benefits of walking may be an excellent initial approach to encouraging your staff to get moving and keep fit. Ideal for staff of all ages, walking is free and easy activity.

A great way to start a sustainable program is to synchronize your walking initiative with National Walk at Lunch Day, scheduled to take place on April 27 this year. Walking at lunch, and joining thousands of other employees all across America on that day to unanimously support a healthy lifestyle, may be the jumping-off point for some of your employees to incorporate fitness into their regular workday. If you’re still unconvinced, the following explain why a walking program is worth integrating into your wellness efforts.

Reduces Mental Fatigue

Scientists have found that walking through green spaces can trigger the brain to enter a meditative state, as a study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine discovered. From a mental standpoint, walking is an effortless act for people of good health and allows for quiet contemplation, reducing mental fatigue and sharpening concentration.

Promotes Creativity

Based on research from the American Psychological Association, walking improves creativity. In a series of experiments, creative, unique ideas were generated far more frequently by a group of walking test subjects as compared to a sedentary group. What better way to encourage the flow of creative juices than to get your staff out and walking around during the lunch hour?

Reduces the Risk of Chronic Disease

Aside from the mental benefits, walking is a practical and effective way to prevent or reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. With this in mind, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the current U.S. Surgeon General, advises Americans to walk regularly to combat such conditions.

Even if your employees understand the myriad benefits of walking, the ultimate challenge is to make this activity fun and sustainable. To ensure that your wellness initiative does not become a one-off agenda on the company’s calendar or a program that pathetically fizzles over time, try the following:

  • Encourage employees to walk to a specific location and log individual miles for incentives.
  • Offer flexible lunch periods and breaks to encourage individual, group or buddy walks.
  • Introduce a casual walking competition to inject some fun and camaraderie.

While you should wholeheartedly encourage your employees to participate in National Walk at Lunch Day, this activity should continue to be part of the healthy lifestyle initiatives built into your wellness program. A viable way to keep it running is to nominate working representatives whose roles are to promote employee participation, provide continual encouragement to co-workers, consistently introduce new, yet accessible, routes and inject an element of fun and creativity into the program.

No matter the commitment level from your employees, fluctuations in participation rate will likely occur. However, if walking representatives lead by example throughout the year, the number of participants may pick up. Use attractive fliers, include testimonials of existing participants, and distribute a calendar of scheduled walking activities to lure new members. Because everyone loves to be recognized for their efforts, consider incorporating incentives for participants who have achieved a certain number of miles or walking hours over a specified time.

Proven to bring different health benefits, walking should be made part of your workplace wellness program only if it is sustainable, meaningful and targeted toward an outcome achieved over time. The ultimate aim is to focus on disease prevention and lowering health risks, which translates to health care savings in the long run.

Emmie Sahlan has a graduate degree in English and has been writing professionally for the past five years. Her niche areas are insurance, credit cards, personal finance and education.