Want to help your employees improve productivity? Regular workday exercise is a proven cognition and mood enhancer. Sending your co-workers to the gym may be your first thought, but not every office can afford a gym, and not every employee loves to sweat.

Read on to learn more about the everyday ways you can guide your employees get moving for better health and performance.

Here are 10 walking challenge ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

1. Find the Fun
Google’s legendary workplace perks foster a culture of fun and productivity. While your company may still aspire to Google-like perks, there’s no reason exercising has to be a drag. Even Mary Poppins turned ”Let’s Tidy Up the Nursery” into a game.

One creative company “kidnapped” teams for a 15 minute walk or “jailed” the team lead. Who doesn’t love a little forced labor when the result of the office walking challenge is comparable to giving everyone a Red Bull?

2. Walk Somewhere
Some great walking challenge ideas come to mind if you look to walking “somewhere.” Offices around the world? Set up team goals to “visit” each of them. Or pick Disneyland, the Andes or Paris. Set up a “hike” along the famous trails of our national parks. Some photos and factoids at the milestones help maintain interest.

Walking Challenge Ideas

3. Make it a Game
Video game makers know how to activate those dopamine receptors. Use the power of virtual rewards to get your employees moving. The February 2018 cohort of The Outbreak reports a 91% completion rate. Billed as the Ultimate Corporate Walking Challenge, real life movement translates into the virtual world.

Can your employees resist avoiding zombies, or better yet, being the zombies?

4. Train Together
Lots of offices have a marathon group, but what about combining mileage for “training” ? You’re your office walking challenge a team goal. Everyone combines their personal goals and then works for team accountability. Who knows, after 6 weeks you may have a few people thinking about actually completing 26.2 miles on their own.

5. Take it Outside
15 minutes of natural sunlight daily is recommended for heart health. Coincidentally, that’s also the amount of time necessary to go for a brisk walk. Make walking meetings part of your culture and corporate walking challenge. Give incentives to reach milestones. It doesn’t have to be expensive. One office buys inches of duct tape with their miles. This is the result.

Walking Challenge Ideas

6. Reward Sweat Equity
Translate steps walked into real prizes. Can you make “step bucks” work for you? Employees earn bucks and then spend them as they see fit. How about a prime parking spot? A day off? A healthy lunch?

7. Ministry of Silly Walks
Monty Python perfected the silly walk, but maybe your employees want to tighten and tone. Several programs offer a combination of body weight activities and walking. Crazier yet, go all in on prancercise!

8. Make it Personal
Have your employees issue daily or weekly personal challenges to each other. Almost everyone can eke out ONE MORE (step, mile, etc.) than their closest neighbor.

9. Gotta Have a Theme
Let your employees go a little crazy. Decorate, dress up, make t-shirts. Really tap into your employee’s creativity. Bay to Breakers is a crazy fun run in San Francisco every year. It features costumed runners, walkers, bands and a unique competition unit known as a centipede. 12 runners and an extra are physically linked together and finish the race in step.

10. Make it a Combo
Just like McDonald’s wants to know if you want fries with that, suggest a weight-loss or flexibility challenge to go with the daily walk. Or maybe work in your corporate social responsibility goals- like that Autism Speaks walkathon or Beltline Greener Up Cleanup.
Getting your employees moving is a great idea. Better health and better performance add to your bottom line. Motivate your employees with creative challenges and incentives that go straight to their sense of fun.

Keep reading for more ideas or contact us today to start your corporate walking challenge.

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by Mike Tinney

I grew up in the 80’s, an era famous for its service and product guarantees. From LL Bean’s (until recently) lifetime product guarantees to Dawn Cleaner’s 2x price refund guarantee. There are 17 companies (according to Consumer Reports) who stake their reputation, and build their product brand, around customer satisfaction at a tier above their competition.

This doesn’t happen much, if at all, in the wellness challenge space. The generally assumed truth of the corporate walking challenge industry is that you can’t make people do what’s best for them. You can only try your best and hope that some come along for the whole journey.

“You can’t make people do what’s best for them… but you can inspire them.”

 

Brokers, from companies like Lockton, tell us that somewhere between 30-50% of most health program signees complete programs. 50% completion is considered “STRONG” for most wellness vendors. There are some programs that achieve higher-than-average results with the “stick” approach. “Do this or you’ll spend more money/lose some benefits.” Or, in other words, remain compliant.

We know, from research, that stick (and carrot) based programs lose traction over time. I think these sentiments are generally correct. You can’t make people do what’s best for them… but you can inspire them.

When we started working on Health Entertainment, we believed that if you could create an entertainment experience that required healthy activity to engage in, that we could, in time, work out a way to inspire people to change their habits. So we’ve been hacking away at people’s behavior for 3+ years now. Trying to build a better game that inspires, and through inspiration, engages participants at the highest levels through to completion.

Walking Challenge Ideas

We’ve found our sweet spot: a six week zombie outbreak challenge; delivered in an ongoing story format, up to 4 times a year. We prototyped four challenge themes: a zombie outbreak, an alien invasion, and sports and holiday themes.

Our zombie outbreak retained users 9% better than any of our other prototype challenges. To put that into real numbers, our worst challenge retained users at an average of 79% completion. That was our worst. The Zombie outbreak retained at an average completion rate of 88%. We tracked all the differentials HERE. I should add that recently we’ve been hitting completion rates in the 90%’s.

So where has that lead us over time?

The Outbreak Challenge Engagement Guarantee
We’re going to join the guarantee club. We’re going to guarantee an 80+% completion rate to any company that uses our program and follows our format.

How does this compare to our competition? Our nearest competitor charges $12 per employee to participate in a “steps are great” challenge. They then tack on $2800 in set up and “device integration” fees, and our brokers tell us they expect about 40% of those employees who sign up to complete the program. So in a 100 person company you would have a weighted cost per user who completes the program of $100 per successful employee ((100*$12 + 2800)/40).

“To put that into real numbers, our worst challenge retained users at an average of 79% completion. That was our worst.”

OR you can pay us $20.95 per user, plus a one time $1000 set up fee and we’ll guarantee 80% of your staff finish the program for a weighted cost per completion of $38 per successful employee ((100*$20.95+$1000)/80). This is just the savings on the cost of completion per engaged employee. You can learn more about the insurance savings one of our clients discovered in this wellness ROI case study.

So yeah, when we crunched the numbers it was a no brainer to double down on what we’ve gotten great at doing. We had to build up our confidence a bit, as this is new territory, both for us and our market. At the end of the day, though, we realized that we’ve figured out how to inspire an employee population and so we’re putting that in writing. We guarantee engagement now. We’re joining the club, and we’re the first wellness challenge company to do so.

Until Next Time,

Mike

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by Mike Tinney

My company, FIX, turns 6 years old in March 2018. I left the video game industry to start it. I believed that if you could deliver an experience that had the entertainment caliber of a video game, but focused on health and well being, that you could help people change their lives. We’ve been at it for close to 6 years, and I still believe it. In fact I know it, because we’ve done it. But in truth, like all founders, I didn’t expect it to take this long.

We are on the 3rd generation of our hybrid walking challenge video game, and we think we have it now. The challenge with technology is… each “at bat” is 12-18 months of development work and the better part of $1 million of development expense. It’s not the major leagues, but it’s also not amature hour. It’s somewhere in between.

“In addition to figuring out how to make people behave differently, we found we’re using some pieces of technology (like Fitbits) in ways they haven’t been used before.”

 

We’ve been bootstrapping FIX most of the way. Many of the people who work at the company have “skin in the game,” as they say. We don’t really have a big VC involved. Every VC we’ve talked to wants us to be one step farther along than we currently are… Have an idea? Build a prototype. Have a Prototype? Validate it with a couple of customers. Have some pilot customers? Get to $1 million in annual revenue. Have a $3 million sale contract? Check back with us in a year. And so on… So we’ve bootstrapped our way to our current product.

It’s a really good, stable product. It counts the things it needs to count and delivers the experience we promise to deliver. If you work in tech, you know this is easier said than done.

See, our product is something that hasn’t been done before, so in addition to figuring out how to make people behave differently, we found we’re using some pieces of technology (like Fitbits) in ways they haven’t been used before. In our early product iterations, getting these third party technologies to do what we wanted them to, when we wanted them to, how we wanted them to, all within the context of a game was challenging. Much like cars come out with all new models every few years, software has a similar life cycle, and our new product is just that: built completely new, from the ground up, standing on the shoulders of all the knowledge and experience we gained from two previous versions.

The Outbreak Challenge Tutorial

“Benefits brokers that we work with tell us that our product inspires more steps and retains users longer and better than any health challenge they’ve ever seen.”

We launched the new version of our Health Entertainment game, called The Outbreak, in June of 2017. We nailed our primary benchmark: 90+% sustained/retained users. Benefits brokers that we work with tell us that our product inspires more steps and retains users longer and better than any health challenge they’ve ever seen. It should. We cheat. We use lots of dirty tricks from the video game industry to create a dopamine feedback loop in our users brains. It helps people make it from one little goal to the next. Complete enough little goals and surprise! You’ve nailed a big goal.

We headed into 2018 with 2 major breakthroughs, one’s we’re hoping to make the most from. First, we signed a distribution deal with Rally Health. That’s a big deal and one we’re excited about. They’ll take some time to ramp up, but we’re excited about getting our products offered to United Healthcare clients. The second big break, though, fell into our laps. We had a client do their own ROI study on our services. Their results were astounding. They recognized a 7:1 return on their spend on The Outbreak challenge, primarily from mitigating medical risks by moving 25% of their participating population from inactive/sedentary to active. We turned it into a wellness ROI case study. Still, we’ve been plugging for 6 years and we’re still small. These two breakthroughs will take months, if not the better part of the year to begin to result in more sales. We’re still… a start up. Are we there yet?

Until Next Time,

Mike

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In fitness circles, this week’s news cycle is focused on FItbit’s new Alta HR. This fitness tracker is notable for packing previously available features into a 25% smaller package.

Meanwhile over at Mio, they’ve innovated by evolving core assumptions about what quality of activity is required to build the healthiest possible you. Their Mio Slice has introduced the PAI System which stands for “Personal Activity Intelligence.” PAI is Mio’s proprietary algorithm which documents both Steps and Heart Rate giving you a simple number that shows how much activity you need to live a longer, healthier life.
The science behind PAI is fascinating and you can learn more about it here.

And while FIX does specialize in sourcing the right fitness devices for companies of all sizes, we are also aware that there are tens of millions of devices already in the market; many of them subsidized by employers. This is fantastic news for employee wellness, but FIX is often approached by companies with a reoccurring problem“After initial enthusiasm, fitness device usage has tapered off in our organization.”

Happily FIX has the solution. While device manufacturers have steadily improved the technology of fitness trackers, FIX has been making fitness fun.

A Step Ahead Walking Challenges are designed to add engaging stories, team-based competition, and marauding zombies to your groups fitness efforts. These gamified walking challenges are proven to have the highest engagement and retention in the business. Check us out today!

FIX Health: Newsletter Tip


No devices? No Problem.
A Step Ahead wellness games also have a variety of manual entry options for those without fitness trackers.

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“A lot of people want to play it safe by engaging in some kind of physical activity every now and then. Not me, though. I live for the rush.”

Those are the words of sedentary thrill-seeker Daniel Erickson who risks his life every day through a strict regimen of sitting at his computer, watching television, and playing with his smartphone in bed.

“I’m skating on thin ice living my life like this, but chasing after those extreme risks is just in my blood,” said Erickson, who noted that spending the vast majority of his time in a slumped or fully recumbent position is all part of the nonstop game of chance that he thrives on “I know that if I keep tempting fate by stretching out on the sofa all day, I’ll eventually pay the price, but I’m not someone who can do things halfway. If I’m going to play with fire by lying across those cushions every chance I get, then I’ve got to go all out, with as little bodily movement as possible. That’s just the way I am.”

The full harrowing story of Mr. Ericson can be found here as reported by The Onion.

The Onion is, of course, the top satire publication in world, and this edition of the FIX Wellness Newsletter is brought to you in early celebration of April Fool’s Day.

All kidding aside, when your team is ready to quit fooling around with dangerous sedentary work habits, check out the epic Corporate Walking Challenges at https://astepaheadchallenge.com/.

FIX Health: Newsletter Tip


April Fool’s Edition: When pulling serious pranks on coworkers, keep plenty of room between you and them.

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“It’s clear that moving matters.”

That’s the bottom line assessment of Dr. Jack Groppel, a founder of the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, as reported in the New York Times.

Dr. Groppel’s study of the corrosive effects of uninterrupted sitting yields a very simple recommendation to sedentary workers – walk for 5 minutes every hour during the work day.

The study, which compared all-day-sitters with those who walked for 5 minutes per hour, clearly showed the a range of benefits to the walking segment.

The walkers reported greater happiness, less fatigue and considerably less craving for food.

The subjects’ ratings of how they were feeling rose when they did not sit for six uninterrupted hours.

They also noted that the walking breaks did not cause people to feel more tired or hungry, but instead had the opposite effect.

As the doctor says – moving matters.

If your team needs to jump start its daily activity for greater health and productivity, be sure to check out our office walking challenges for walking challenges that work!

FIX Health: Newsletter Tip


Spring into action! Spring is the best time of year for a walking challenge – the weather is great and employees who have been cooped up for the winter are excited about getting out and active.

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Last week in Part 1 of this series on standing desk health research, we discussed reporting from Europe that showed the scarcity of evidence of health benefits derived from standing at work.

This week, we go to the New York Times where they delve into the topic of standing for weight loss.

This study involved fitting subjects with respirator masks that precisely measured the energy expenditure of several kinds of activities.

One group, tasked with simply sitting, unsurprisingly burned a low 20 calories over the course of 15 minutes.

Much more surprising was that the group which was instructed to stand for 15 minutes only burned 2 more calories, for a total of 22.

Subjects who walked for 15 minutes, however, were in an entirely different league.
As the article notes:

…when the volunteers walked for 15 minutes, even at a fairly easy pace, they burned about three times as many calories as when they sat or stood. If they walked for an hour, the researchers calculated, they would incinerate about 130 more calories than if they stayed in their chairs or stood up at their desks…”

They continue on noting that making walking a daily habit may be enough “to help people avoid creeping, yearly weight gain.”

The evidence in favor of walking, to offset the chronic effects of sedentary office life, is overwhelming. If you would like to bring walking into your office through an engaging, gamified walking challenge, check out A Step Ahead now!

FIX Health: Newsletter Tip


Headphones and earbuds can turn your walks into high value time. Listen to an audiobook. Find a good podcast. Call your mom.

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The standing-desk industry is thriving.

Health-conscious go-getters are converting their standard desks into standing desks with 3rd party add-ons. Some are bringing in entirely new (and pricey) units which can convert from standing to sitting with the touch of a button. And why not? Clearly, standing during the day has to be healthier than sitting, right?
Well, not so fast…

Several recent studies cast doubt on the health benefits of standing during work, and some data even signals that frequent prolonged standing may even be detrimental.

NPR reports on Finnish research that says:

“The idea you should be standing four hours a day? There’s no real evidence for that,” [Dr. Jos Verbeek] says. “I would say that there’s evidence that standing can be bad for your health.” A 2005 study in Denmark showed prolonged standing at work led to a higher hospitalization risk for enlarged veins.

But surely all that standing will help you lose weight, right?

We wish that were true. More on that next week in Standing Is The New Sitting Part 2.

In the meantime, the one thing that is universally agreed upon is that walking is one of the healthiest habits that a human can have. Learn how to bring walking challenges to your staff at https://astepaheadchallenge.com!

FIX Health: Newsletter Tip


Should I sit or stand at work: This conversation is a luxury to millions of workers whose jobs require that they stand all day. If you or your staff stands for a large amount of time, use an anti-fatigue mat to absorb the impact.

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Entrepreneur Magazine has partnered with CultureIQ to find the Top Company Cultures in America – and the No. 1 spot goes to a Healthcare company with a passion for Employee Wellness.

Fusion Medical Staffing took the top spot in this prestigious review by building a collaborative, employee-first culture. Their vetting of new candidates is extremely thorough, with interviewers asking a series of probing questions to determine if candidates “are driven but also open to helping other people out.” Fusion finds that searching for people with the core characteristics of being “humble, driven, and positive” makes for a culture of people that are working for each other as much as themselves.

And the rewards for making the cut? The first thing they tout on their list of benefits is their commitment to employee health and wellness – a 6,000-square foot fitness center,  yoga studio, classes, and more.

When co-Founder Scott Wehner speaks about these Wellness benefits, he considers it an investment that more than pays for itself.

“I believe that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind. At the end of the day, the investment that we put into wellness comes back to us four fold.”

If your company would like to bring more of the positive benefits of wellness to your employees, a Walking Challenge is the perfect way to begin.

A Step Ahead makes makes “gamified” story-based Walking Challenges that produce record results in employee participation, retention and enjoyment – find out more at https://astepaheadchallenge.com/

FIX Health: Newsletter Tip


Stay hydrated at work: If you don’t like plain water, add a spritz of lemon or lime juice for a citrusy twist!

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Hootsuite CEO, Ryan Holmes, pays his employees to exercise at work, and thinks you should too.

Hootsuite’s service is a platform that helps other companies manage their social media. They currently have 1,000 employees and a very active gym in their corporate headquarters in Vancouver, Canada.

Ryan recently published an overview of the benefits Hootsuite has seen from this emphasis on Employee Wellness.

His article is well worth reading, and here are a few highlights emphasizing bottom-line ROI:

“For health, for morale and, yes, for the bottom line, it’s the best decision we could have made.”

“…  even on a ruthlessly practical level, allowing and encouraging employees to exercise at work makes good sense.”

“Time lost on exercise is made back and more in terms of improved productivity. And research backs this up.”

In fairness, however, not everyone is part of a Pacific Northwestern tech company where cultural expectations and urban planning work to the advantage of Wellness efforts.

If you would like to jump-start your company Wellness, check out A Step Ahead for story-based, gamified Walking Challenges that employees love.
FIX Health: Newsletter Tip

Master stairs: Use stairs as much as possible throughout the day for a workout you won’t even realize you’re doing.

 

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