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Healthy Habits Challenge

Looking for a way to encourage health and wellness in the workplace? Consider launching a Healthy Habits Challenge for your employees. The four-week challenge offers a fun way to introduce and encourage new healthy habits each week to help your employees reach their goals, whether it’s to lose weight, reduce body fat, find improved health and well-being, gain more endurance and energy, or build stronger, leaner muscles.

We can make this program easy to put in place with a packet featuring four different weekly challenges and customizable materials you can use to launch and run your challenge. The categories are mindfulness, hydration, nutrition and exercise.

The customizable materials include a registration announcement sent two weeks before the challenge starts; a promotional announcement emailed a week before, a reminder email sent the morning the challenge begins and a Four-Week Healthy Habits Challenge tracker.

This challenge offers an effective way for people to evaluate their eating and exercise habits. New, healthy habits are introduced every week to encourage and help employees prioritize new aspects of their health. By trying new things, they may find something they enjoy and that inspires them to stick with it. Here is an overview of the weekly challenges:

Week One

  • Mindfulness challenge: Get enough sleep. Sleep is crucial for exercise recovery and has even been shown to reduce your risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s. Sleep deprivation is linked to an increase in hunger hormones and weight gain. For the first week, go to bed 15 minutes earlier than normal.
  • Hydration challenge: Drink a minimum of 64 ounces of water per day.
  • Nutrition challenge: Reduce the consumption of processed foods, including sweets, baked goods, granola bars, candy, pop and ice cream. Fruit is encouraged.
  • Exercise challenge: Complete 20 minutes of exercise every day this week, such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), strength training, yoga, Pilates and jumping rope. Break up workouts into 10-minute sessions. (Always talk to your doctor before starting any new fitness routine.)

Week Two

  • Mindfulness challenge: Go for a sensory walk outside and look for five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can touch, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. Spending time in nature shows added health benefits to our overall well-being.
  • Hydration challenge: Drink a minimum of 64 ounces of water per day.
  • Nutrition challenge: Reduce white foods. This includes white flour, white pasta, white rice, white sugar, white potatoes. You can eat quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal (not instant), sweet potatoes and whole wheat bread, pasta, etc. Onions, cauliflower, turnips and white beans don’t fall into this category and are fine to eat. Use this opportunity to try new whole grains, such as millet, farro and Kamut.
  • Exercise challenge: Complete 30 minutes of exercise every day this week. Break your exercise into several short sessions, if necessary.

Week Three

  • Mindfulness challenge: Do one random act of kindness each day this week. Here are a few suggestions: offer a compliment to a co-worker, open a door for someone, plant a tree, be tolerant, smile at someone, forgive mistakes, encourage a friend.
  • Hydration challenge: Drink a minimum of 128 ounces of water per day.
  • Nutrition challenge: Eat at least 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Remember to check the serving size. A big salad is multiple servings. Smoothies are a good way to get in extra fruits and vegetables. Studies show that eating seven or more fruits and vegetables lowers mortality rates by 42%, and most nutritionists today point to 10 servings or 100 grams as the optimal number.
  • Exercise challenge: Complete 40 minutes of exercise every day this week, such as HIIT, strength training, biking, running, yoga, Pilates or jumping rope. Break your exercise into several short sessions, if necessary

Week Four

  • Mindfulness challenge: Meditate, sit in silence or practice deep-breathing exercises for 10 minutes a day. Reducing stress can lower cortical steroid levels, which are linked to weight gain and other hunger hormones. Stress reduction can also help improve your sleep at night. Try one of our mindful meditations at bluecrossvirtualwellbeing.com.
  • Hydration challenge: Drink a minimum of 128 ounces of water per day.
  • Nutrition challenge: Meal prep for the workweek; for weekend dinners, try a new recipe. Eating out is correlated with a higher BMI, higher blood pressure and higher cholesterol.
  • Exercise challenge: Complete 60 minutes of exercise every day this week, such as HIIT, strength training, biking, running, yoga, Pilates or jumping rope. Break your exercise into several short sessions, if necessary.

Learn more about how to bring the four-week Healthy Habits Challenge to your workplace in this Blue Cross® Virtual Well-Being webinar. You can also sign up for future employer-focused and general interest webinars here, where you’ll find past sessions and resources.

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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