For many of us, the start to a new year feels like it’s brimming with possibilities. Setting a goal to lose weight at this time of year (or simply stay fit and healthy) is very common; in fact, it’s the most popular New Year’s resolution around. But, we often find that as the days of January tick by, those goals and good intentions slip away, as well. Perhaps things can be different this year, though. Chances are, many of your co-workers have similar goals. Maybe you can help each other and even enjoy yourselves a bit along the way.
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1. Research proves that being a part of a group program helps.
Researchers from Ohio State University conducted a study which involved 69 employees who were all determined to be pre-diabetic through a screening process. The group was split in half for the study. One set of folks received written information on losing weight, while the other half received a group-based approach, meeting together about once a week. This group lost, on average, about 5.5 percent of their body weight and kept the weight off for three months. The control group lost just a half a percent. The people who participated in the group work also lowered their glucose levels at double the rate of the control group. Working on these goals together really might help you all to achieve them.
2. The workplace is a logical venue for these groups and meetings.
Another study out of Tufts University found that participants who followed a reduced-calorie diet and participated in weekly discussions with a counselor at their place of employment lost an average of eighteen pounds over a six-month period. Even people who worked there that didn’t participate in the group lost weight. An office health and wellness program offers a degree of convenience and camaraderie that’s tough to beat.
“Offices are really wonderful settings for weight-loss groups,” Sai Krupa Das, a scientist in the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at Tufts University, told Business News Daily. “Co-workers have established relationships, creating an automatic support system and level of comfort. There is also the benefit of not having to set aside as much additional time for weight management. It can be built right into the work day.”
Americans spend a large percentage of their time at work, so it’s helpful to have structures in place there that support our goals.
3. Monetary incentives don’t work and they kind of annoy people, too.
Healthy employees are to a company’s benefit, and as a result, organizations sometimes offer monetary rewards or incentives for healthy practices or even weight loss. But, studies show that these programs don’t help workers. For example, offering folks lower health insurance premiums for losing weight didn’t help participants shed pounds.
There’s also the fact that paying people to lose weight or change their habits can feel kind of intrusive and disrespectful. Food choices, weight, even exercise – these topics are personal, and some people might view it as pushy and rude for an employer or a manager to chime in too loudly about them. If you’re interested in helping your team get healthier, it’s probably better to get everyone’s buy-in as a peer, rather than looking for incentives from the top.
4. Make sure people don’t feel pressured to join.
No one wants to feel like they’re secretly required to participate in the office weight loss club. If you’re a manager or otherwise in a position of authority, it’s especially important that people don’t think you’re trying to force them to get healthy.
Instead, after announcing the existence of the program, let interested participants come to you, and limit your communication only to the people who’ve expressed interest. If you’re doing weigh-ins or other group tracking, make sure that these activities happen when and where other people can ignore you, if they want. (In other words, maybe don’t station the communal scale in the lunch room by the snack machine, no matter how useful that might be as a deterrent.)
5. A little gamifaction could be fun too.
Gamification is a technique for motivating people that uses game design elements to encourage and support goal completion. From fitness apps to fitness bands, many people are finding ways to make pursuing health goals a little more fun. So, maybe a workplace competition of some kind could help motivate folks? Entire cities have even participated in programs like this, with great success.
So, whatever your health and fitness objectives might be for 2016, consider getting involved with a group at work that can support you and help you enjoy the process. It could just be your ticket to achieving your goals.
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