We are currently running a health challenge for one of our onsite physiotherapy clients The popularity and enthusiasm to the health challenge saw the program fully booked out within the first week of advertising.

Despite this, people often ask – ‘what’s the point of it all? Won’t this use up valuable resources? Is it like a weight-loss challenge they hold at gyms? These are all valid questions. To answer these, let’s firstly look at what a health challenge is and what type we are currently running.

What is a health challenge?

A health challenge is a comprehensive tailored health program designed to improve the health and well-being of workers.  Run over a set period of time, the program focuses on setting SMART goals for each worker, followed by delivery of tailored exercise advice and health seminars that motivate, support and challenge workers to reach their  health goals.

For our current health challenge, SMART goals for each participant were set following a comprehensive initial physical assessment.  This included; assessing blood pressure, resting heart rate, fitness level via a step test, BMI and waist to hip ratio.  We also teamed up with Inbody, to help analyse the body composition (% of lean muscle mass and body fat) of each participant.   If needed, further specific fitness and strength measures can be employed to assess participants who already have ideal health markers and are looking at improving fitness and not just general health.

To improve adherence and motivation, and to reward workers for their participation, the client has organised a series of prizes to be won.  Prizes can be won for achieving set goals, for championing the program, for supporting other participants and for consistent participation.

Furthermore, participants are reviewed every 2 weeks by our physiotherapist to track progress, progress exercises and to help with motivation and adherence

Health seminars are held weekly and can be made available to all staff, not just those participating in the challenge I recently presented on the latest apps and wearables to help track your diet and fitness goals. These seminars help engagement, especially when you have guest presenters from some innovative health companies. Our friend Dr Jay Spence from Uprise is going to present on mental health in the workplace for us!

AXIS teaming up with Inbody for a 12 Week Health Challenge

What are the benefits of a health challenge?

1) It shows you value the health and well-being of your staff

It’s very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations that sometimes you lose track of what is important. Factors such as physical/mental wellness of your staff can begin to lose focus. Supporting a health challenge shows you value health and well-being in the workplace. When staff feel appreciated, improvements in productivity and staff retention often occur.

2) It improves morale in the workplace

Sometimes negativity can simmer in a workplace. Unchecked this can have a significant impact on productivity, injury rate and absenteeism. A health challenge can help change the conversation and have staff focusing on self-improvement. This isn’t to say it is a silver bullet! Rather, a positive initiative that can serve as a good adjunct to improving morale.

3) It focuses on the right metrics

Weight loss alone is not a measure of improved health. Sometimes, it can be the very opposite! An in-depth health challenge measures relevant metrics that have meaning. A high % body fat if left unchecked can lead to serious health problems in the long-term. Flagging issues early-on helps awareness and engagement with the programme.

Measuring waist to hip ratios, BMI and body composition can help shift focus away from pure ‘weight loss’. This can dissuade staff from stooping to unhealthy behaviour such as poor eating habits to ‘drop the weight’. Furthermore, for workers not interested in losing weight, but focused on improving fitness specific fitness and strength measures can be employed to ensure all participants have a tailored specific program.

4) It can help flag high-risk staff

Believe it or not, you don’t need to be overweight or a chronic smoker to be at risk of health issues. Our current 12 week challenge has flagged a staff member (who appeared otherwise healthy) with very high blood pressure. This prompted Axis to refer the staff member to the GP where he is now managed with medication and has been given medical clearance to continue to participate in the program. Such individuals may not have sought medical treatment for years if it had not been flagged by our physiotherapists!

A health challenge can flag individuals with high blood pressure 

5) It teaches staff to adopt better healthy routines and habits

12 weeks is long enough to ingrain a habit. By empowering staff to be in-control of and improve their health, you benefit from staff who are fitter and healthier to cope with not just the demands of their work, but the demands of life. This can have an effect on productivity, absenteeism, injury and illness, which of course can influence your bottom line.

What are the costs?

When run as part of an onsite physiotherapy service the following additional funding may be required. This includes:

  • Extra resourcing to cover the one-on-one sessions
  • Funds for the body composition analysing machines.
  • Funds for prizes.

Outside of an onsite service, funding is used to assess all participants pre-program and post-program and to deliver health seminars.

Although our current health challenge is for a large organisation and has many participants, health challenges can also be tailored to smaller organisations as well. We have performed health challenges with as few as 15 participants that had great results!

So what are you waiting for?! Hold a health challenge in your workplace now!