As summer gets closer and the weather starts warming up, we see so many more people take a stronger interest in getting outside, getting active and turning a new leaf in their fitness regimens. With May being National Physical Fitness Month, we thought it would be a good time to revisit tips that encourage members to be healthier and sustain this newfound excitement for living a healthier lifestyle year round.
Create Sustainable Goals, Offer Incentives and Track Milestones Along the Way
The first step in reshaping a wellness routine is setting attainable goals. Whether it’s losing a few pounds or developing the stamina to run a 5K, members need clear objectives and well-thought-out plans to achieve them.
Work with your members to develop personalized goals that make sense for their lifestyles. Provide them with education to develop goals that can impact their specific conditions and provide resources for success along the way. Health coaches can be extremely valuable in helping members initiate these healthier lifestyle choices and promote sustained behavior change and ongoing wellness. Coaches are able to get to know the person behind the patient and work with them to improve their daily health actions.
In addition to helping them set up a plan of action, create incentives for reaching various milestones. Small achievements lead to big progress and making sure members know their work is recognized makes them much more likely to keep it up.
Make Fitness Personal and Encourage Peer Support
Fitness isn’t a one-size-fits-all initiative. While running may be the exercise of choice for some, others may prefer swimming or group activities. Encouraging members to choose an activity that they enjoy will make exercise feel less burdensome and, in turn, keep them active longer. Research shows that people are more likely to uphold personal wellness goals when they’re not alone in the process. A study in the Journal of Social Sciences found that people gravitate toward the exercise behaviors of those around them. With this in mind, it’s important to encourage camaraderie through peer-driven support. Social communities can give individuals the opportunity to share successes, roadblocks or challenges along their paths. They can also make people more accountable for achieving their goals.
Create a Healthier Population for the Long Run
It’s widely recognized that physical activity is one the best things people can do for their bodies. Encouraging regular exercise and physical activity not only creates short-term health gains (e.g., weight loss, increased muscle mass), but it can also help sidestep the progression of many conditions. Exercise has been proven to strengthen the heart, lungs, muscles and bones. According to the American Diabetes Association, it also has the potential to lower the risk of prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Further, it can improve symptoms of metabolic syndrome, which include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels. As organizations focus more holistically on improving the health of their entire populations and preventing avoidable chronic conditions, promoting regular exercise will be a key initiative that provides short-term and long-term value.
Getting members active is crucial for keeping staying healthy, preventing long-term conditions, slowing disease progression and reducing costs for your organization. Develop and provide them with the right content, resources and community support to keep them moving in May and for years to come.