May is internationally recognized as Global Employee Health and Fitness Month (GEHFM).

Led by a non-profit program under the National Association for Health and Fitness, GEHFM’s goal is to educate employers and employees about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and encourage promoting this in the workplace. This can be done through spreading awareness, creating an encouraging environment, facilitating group workouts, and implementing goals or friendly competitions.

How can you promote health and fitness at your workplace?

Coincidently, May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental and physical health overlap considerably, and it is important to be aware of both aspects of your wellbeing. Especially during the pandemic, pharmacy professionals everywhere have experienced high levels of stress and fatigue. From adapting workflow to meet social distancing guidelines to administering COVID-19 tests and vaccinations, all while maintaining regular business operations – pharmacy employees have been busy to say the least.

But busy or not, making time for your health and wellbeing can not be overlooked or compromised. Below are some practical ideas and benefits of promoting health and fitness at your pharmacy, both this month and year-round:

Health & Fitness in Your Pharmacy Team

Explore what promoting regular exercise can add to your pharmacy team dynamic. Not only will it improve health and overall wellbeing, it can boost morale, increase team bonding, and help mitigate pandemic burnout.

Start a team goal or friendly competition

It can be hard to make time for exercise, especially when you have a busy schedule. Starting a team health initiative can make exercising fun, and help your team hold each other accountable. Consider setting a team fitness goal to work towards, or start a friendly competition.

Track and reward progress

To increase motivation and participation, track your team’s group or individual progress. This is a great way to get people invested and create long lasting habits. You can even give out rewards for an added incentive.

Form good habits

Sometimes all you need is a kickstart to get you going. By promoting regular exercise and good health habits in your team, you can instill a long-term commitment to health and fitness.

Handle pandemic stress and burnout

Not only does exercise release endorphins, it also stimulates the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin – all chemicals that play a crucial role in regulating mood. Regular exercise can help battle the signs of burnout during the pandemic.

Boost employee morale

Whether you are physically exercising together as a team or just holding each other accountable, team fitness initiatives are a great way to boost morale. It shows your employees that you care about their physical and mental wellbeing.

Increase team bonding

Encouraging exercise initiatives can bring your team together and give your team a chance to bond over something outside of just work. Sharing a transformative experience and getting healthy together can be a strong bonding experience.

Running around the pharmacy doesn’t count

Well, maybe a little. While you may be burning a few calories during a busy day on your feet, that shouldn’t be your only form of exercise. It is difficult to get the full benefit of exercise if you are stressed and focused on working. It’s important to set time aside for mental and physical health and get a complete workout in.

Find out how much exercise you need for your age in order to stay healthy and active.

Be creative

One way to promote fitness is to add a group exercise time in the workday, such as during lunch breaks. It doesn’t have to be every day – find out what works best for your team. Especially now during COVID vaccination efforts, pharmacies are busy. You may not have time now to incorporate exercise into your schedule, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still stay active as a team. Consider meeting up outside of work for group walks, message each other for accountability, or even partner with local gyms or dance and yoga studios in your community.

Benefits of Regular Exercise

According to MedlinePlus, a resource of the National Library of Medicine, these are some benefits of staying active and getting sufficient amounts of exercise:

Control and maintain a healthy weight

Improve mental health and improve mood to reduce burnout

Reduce the risk of heart disease

Manage your body’s blood sugar and insulin levels

Improve sleep patterns and quality of sleep

Stimulate your body and your mind as you age

Strengthen your bones and muscles

Encouraging a Healthy Lifestyle

MedlinePlus also highlights some suggestions for encouraging a healthy lifestyle and creating lasting habits for regular exercise and overall wellness.

Be active together with friends and family
Hold each other accountable
Keep track of progress
Make it fun!

These strategies are all applicable to a workplace fitness program. You’ll work together as a team to hold each other accountable, track progress, and have fun while doing it!

Even though May is Global Employee Health and Fitness Month, you don’t have to limit yourself to just this month. Take this time to think about how a fitness program could benefit your team, and what practical steps you can take to get started.

A happy and healthy team is also a productive and efficient one.

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