You Put in a Company Gym. Now What?

The first step towards a healthy lifestyle comes with an age-old challenge: exercise. As most (if not all) of us have experienced, that moment where you decide to work out or not work out may be one of the most begrudging moments of your day. The mental challenge that people experience when they are deciding to work out and continue to do so over a period of time may be a significant factor impacting their (un)healthy lifestyles. Especially after a period of not exercising, the task seems impossible at times.

One component of building a culture of health is employee engagement. Corporate wellness programs encourage working out as one of the most important aspects of a healthy employee lifestyle. Exercise has been shown to have numerous benefits, starting from prevention of diseases (heart disease, cancer, etc.), decreased risk of depression, long term weight maintenance, to brain stimulation. Healthy employees are linked with decreased absenteeism and increased productivity. But how can you actually get your employees to start exercising and continue to do so?

Corporate wellness researchers have puzzled over this question for the last couple of decades. There are two main components to understanding this behavior: motivation for exercising and adherence to the program. Motivation for exercising can also be broken down into intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. Extrinsic motivation, including the competition factor and rewards, is more effective in the beginning stages of exercise (contemplation and initiation).1 Therefore, from a corporate wellness standpoint, offering adequate rewards for exercise initiation and creating healthy competition between the employees can result in increased motivation to start exercising.

The second part of the equation is adherence. Getting your employees to continue to exercise is crucial to reap the long-term benefits. A study on work out adherence in a work setting over a 10-week period found that positive psychosocial work environment was a significant predictor of exercise adherence.2 This includes good interpersonal relationships between coworkers, being able to exercise control over work and work pace, as well as having enough time to finish given tasks. Therefore, creating a positive psychosocial work environment through employee surveys, top-down policy changes, and building an overall healthy company culture are all important factors to healthy employees that exercise.

Building a culture of health is a multi-faceted and long-term challenge. However, with the right corporate wellness program, it is manageable and achievable. For more information, please contact Will Yeaton at or at 602-509-4023. Visit for more information on our successful corporate wellness programs.

  1. Buckworth, Janet, et al. “Decomposing intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for exercise: Application to stages of motivational readiness.” Psychology of Sport and Exercise 8.4 (2007): 441-461.
  2. Andersen, Lars L. “Influence of psychosocial work environment on adherence to workplace exercise.” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 53.2 (2011): 182-184.



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