7 Fun Ideas for Corporate Wellness Challenges

Health clubs are in perfect positions to help local employees get active through corporate wellness challenges. Here are some fun-filled ideas to get you started.

Businesses from large corporations to local mom-and-pop shops are starting to realize that having physically active employees will improve employee health and morale, increase productivity, and strengthen their global competitiveness. However, they may not know how to implement a corporate wellness program or how to encourage their staff to be active. That's where us in the fitness industry come in.

We know movement at work positively impacts worker energy, engagement, and focus. Spreading it throughout the day improves mood, decreases feelings of fatigue, and affects appetite. Not to mention, it can boost creative brainstorming, which is an essential ingredient of innovation.

In addition to positively impacting an employee's daily life, physical activity can help prevent the development of many chronic diseases—which are projected to cost America $794 billion in lost employee productivity every year through 2030. Those of us in the fitness industry have the perfect solution to this problem.

However, even businesses running wellness programs can struggle with engaging employees long term. Challenges can make exercise fun by adding gamification and competitiveness to the mix, and we have you covered with some ideas you can use to help businesses better engage employees in wellness initiatives. As an added bonus, doing so could also help you develop stronger ties with your community.

7 Fun Ideas for Employee Wellness Challenges

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1. Weight Loss Challenge

A voluntary weight loss challenge can span 8 weeks to a few months (though after 12 weeks, participants can start to lose interest) and should include regular weigh-ins and support such as nutrition education. You can determine winners of the challenge by pounds, percent body weight, or body fat lost. Weight loss challenges can be a good place to start for a group new to wellness. A lot of the focus will be on nutrition, so a club with dietitians on staff would be very helpful in this challenge.

2. Walking Challenge

Walking challenges are a good entryway into fitness and a smart way to promote wellness and encourage increased exercise. There are many ways to run walking challenges. Participants can earn a reward for walking a certain number of steps every day for a set period, or can earn a raffle entry for every 1,000-2,000 steps walked over a set time.

3. Daily Habit Challenge

Daily habit challenges work well over shorter, 2-4 week periods. Come up with different healthy habits that participants must do each day. Habits can be anything from packing their own lunch to taking a walk during a break. Each behavior earns a raffle entry, with drawings at the end of each week. Shorter challenges like this can be a good way to get people re-motivated and expose them to different healthier habits they may not be doing.

4. Team Wellness Challenge

Team challenges can foster a sense of community and motivate people to a common goal. Set large goals, such as “walk 5,000 miles” or “lose 50 pounds” and keep track of group results on a whiteboard or poster. Offer an incentive for the whole group, such as weekly fitness classes at the office.

5. Class Attendance Challenge

Partner with businesses interested in doing group challenges involving employees attending a set amount of group classes over a set time—e.g., 20 classes in 25 days. Think about rewarding those who complete the challenge—maybe with some gym apparel, water bottle, or towel.

6. Holiday Challenges

The holidays are often a time when healthy habits suffer. Run a challenge around physical activity to help keep people motivated through November and December. Physical activity, rather than nutrition-focused challenges, can be easier to stick to during this time of year.

7. Plank Challenge

Planking is excellent for core stability, and you can do it in a short amount of time. Challenge employees to plank a set time each day, with times increasing five seconds each day to reach a specific goal over 3-5 weeks. You can do plank challenges as teams—where those who have the best completion percentage win—or individuals.

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Author avatar

Alexandra Black Larcom

Alexandra Black Larcom, MPH, RD, LDN, previously served as IHRSA's Senior Manager of Health Promotion & Health Policy—a position dedicated to creating resources and projects to help IHRSA members offer effective health programs, and promoting policies that advance the industry.