By Donna Kemp Spangler
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has challenged state agencies to “Move More at Work” in an effort to support health and wellbeing in the workplace and to recognize National Employee Health and Fitness Month, the state’s public health council is sponsoring a health challenge that recognizes the top three state agencies with the greatest percentage of participation. Finally, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality has a fighting chance. Typically, DEQ leads out in the annual Clear the Air Challenge but is ranked lower than larger agencies with more employees. Yes, I’m talking about the Utah Department of Workforce Services. This contest encourages participants to be “workout warriors” by counting their steps with a handy conversion tracker for a chance to win a $50 gift card to Sports Authority.
Alan Matheson, executive director of DEQ and self-professed competitive junkie, sweetened the pot to give the DEQ winner a free one-year membership to our building’s fitness facility. “This is another opportunity for DEQ to stand at the top of the podium (and be fit enough to climb the podium)!” he told employees.
I’m not one to back away from a challenge. After all, I try to run 5 miles each morning before I start my day, with a goal of attending a fitness class at either the gym or a strength-training class taught by DEQ’s own Cindy Beem. I’m not really motivated by gift certificates or other prizes, just simply trying to stay active and in shape. It also makes me a nicer person if I’ve had a chance to burn off stress even before it starts building.
The challenge for me is the simple fact that once my morning workout is over; I typically sit at my desk for hours throughout the day, focused on the work at hand, without stepping outside my office. The result is that by the end of the day, I’m actually tired – mentally and physically.
So here’s my 10-step health challenge plan:
- Never take the elevator to get where I’m going; walk up and down the stairs.
- Rather than using the phone to talk to someone at DEQ, go to their office and have a face-to-face conversation.
- Catch a breath of fresh air by taking a walk.
- Add weight lifting to my workout routine.
- Stretch more, even at my desk.
- Hold staff meetings standing up (it would probably make them shorter, too).
- Walk around the office and socialize more.
- Get better sleep.
- Take transit, where walking to TRAX is necessary, whenever I can.
- Walk to a nearby lunch spot once in awhile.
Obviously, these will have more benefits than better health. I’ll get to know people better. Feel refreshed. And hopefully, I will feel less stressful and a nicer person. If this isn’t a reason to celebrate May, there’s also other reasons like: National Bike Month, as celebrated in these blogs. It’s also Mental Health Month, National Stroke Awareness Month, Clean Air Month, Arthritis Awareness Month, Better Hearing and Speech Month, National Mediterranean Diet Month, Lupus Awareness Month, National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, National High Blood Pressure Education Month, Ultraviolet Awareness Month, and Older Americans Month.
What are your plans for May? I challenge anyone to move more, stay fit and healthy, and keep the air clean.
Donna Spangler is the Communications Director for DEQ and a former reporter for the Deseret News. Donna writes a monthly blog post. You can read her previous blog posts here. You can follow her on Twitter @deqdonna