'Exercise snacks' at work help keep staff healthy
posted by rgordon on 7 September 2009
Hula Hoop dancing, a stationary South Island cycle race and a biggest loser competition are some of the healthy initiatives eight Otago organisations have introduced into their workplaces as part of a "well at work" programme.
Public Health South health promoter Anna Dawson said some of the organisations taking part, such as Arai Te Uru Whare Hauora, the Otago Pacific People's Trust and public health, were out in the community promoting healthy lifestyles and recognised the need to be leading by example.
Others, such as Child, Youth and Family and Work and Income New Zealand, had joined the Ministry of Health-funded programme because they recognised the workplace stresses their staff faced and wanted to support their workers.
The Dunedin City Council viewed the initiatives as a "fantastic way to draw in employees and keep the ones they have got", while Delta and the Otago Polytechnic had voluntarily joined the programme, Miss Dawson said.
Funding for the programme finishes next month, but those on board were keen to keep the momentum going and were meeting today to share their successes and ideas.
Each organisation had established a "health team" to drive the initiatives and had done a workplace audit and staff survey.
The workplace audit looked at items such as organisational health policies, the availability of nutritional snacks and signs promoting the use of stairs rather than lifts.
Every organisation had different needs but ideas and initiatives included setting up "breakfast clubs" for those arriving at work not having had time to eat breakfast, going for lunchtime walks and establishing a breast-feeding room for staff.
For those who could not leave the office, exercise bands, poi-twirling and Hula Hoop dancing were ways of getting "exercise snacks" throughout the day, Miss Dawson said.
One organisation was racing around the South Island (in distance) on a stationary cycle.
"It is a matter of taking time out to get some exercise in your day."
The programme is funded through the Healthy Eating, Healthy Action initiative, which is aimed at improving nutrition, increasing physical activity and reducing obesity among New Zealanders.
Workplaces wanting to start healthy initiatives can contact Public Health South or Sport Otago for advice, or check the www.nzwellatwork.co.nz website for ideas and help.