Healthy Workplace Challenge

Summer is just around the corner! Spring time is usually the time people find themselves pondering quick and easy ways to loose weight, such as dieting. As many of us know by now, diets are not the answer. People may turn to starvation diets as a temporary solution to fit into their summer dresses and shorts, but they fail to realize they are actually putting their bodies in starvation mode, since your body cannot differential between a restrictive diet and starvation.

When you are consuming too few calories, your body begins to conserve energy by slowing down body functions including your your metabolism. A slower metabolism means your body stores the energy as fat for easy access when needed. Continuing this for extended amounts of time has many negative effects including decreased attention spans, hair loss, osteoporosis, etc. When you resume your normal diet, you gain more weight due to a slower metabolism (Ware, 2015). 

What is more effective than restrictive diets are making on-going lifestyle changes through healthy eating and exercise. Even though many of us are already aware of this, we still fail to take the necessary steps to make these changes. Right now, healthy eating and fitness are often hot topics even in workplaces. Since workplaces are where you spend most of your waking hours, they are the great places to start taking the steps to your healthier lifestyle. As such, I propose a healthy workplace challenge for your workplace. Let the sunny days fuel your motivation to make a healthy lifestyle changes as a team! Ask your colleagues if they are interested in a healthy workplace challenge and make a commitment to start today!

Below I have listed some healthy strategies that could be implemented, however feel free to modify any of these to suit your workplace environment and your own needs. A workplace “challenge” can create a fun and supportive environment to make lifestyle changes together. Studies have shown both peer mentoring and peer modelling to be effective way to positively influence motivation to change by fostering an environment of acceptance and support (Boekhorstv, 2014; Verplanken & Holland, 2002).

  • Healthy lunches – Make a commitment to bring only healthy lunches to work. If there is a team meeting, instead of picking up a dozen donuts from Tim Horton, bring a fruit platter.
  • No more pop! – Avoiding pop is an easy way to reduce “empty” caloric intake and sugars from your diet. A regular sized can of coke has 39 grams that is equivalent to roughly 10 sugar cubes.
  • Try walking work meetings. For more information, please see our previous blog: "Walk your way to success" 
  • If possible avoid using the elevator and take the stairs instead. If this is not possible, try taking the stairs down or get off a few floors below your floor. Make a realistic goal of number of steps per day and stick to it.
  • If possible, try walking to work. Start your day off by enjoying the beautiful summer mornings instead of being stuck on a bus.
  • Instead of sitting in the lunchroom, spend the last 20-minute of your break walking.
  • Stay hydrated throughout the day.
  • Snack at your desk! Keep low fat, healthy snacks (such as carrot sticks, broccoli or kale chips) at your desk and snack on those instead of candy bars. This is an easy way to meet your daily recommended vegetable intake.
  • Desk stretches – Take a couple short breaks to do some desk stretches. For some ideas, visit
  • Listen to relaxing music at work. Studies show relaxing music reduces stress and anxiety, lowers BP, and HR. Research reveals listening to music at work enhances mood (Lesiuk, 2005).
  • Strike a power pose before a big meeting or before work every morning. A study has shown that striking two-simple 1-minute power poses can reduce stress levels and increase confidence (Carney, Cuddy & Yap, 2010). 
  • Spread positive energy in if your workplace. Compliment at least 1 person a day on a job that you think they did well. Studies show that not only do compliments improve workplace positivity, they also improve performance the same way receiving cash does (Sugawara et al., 2012).

... AND remember to have fun!



Boekhorstv, J. A. (2014). The role of authentic leadership in fostering workplace inclusion: A social information processing perspective. Human Resource Management, 54(2), 241–264.

Carney, D. R., Cuddy, A. J. C., & Yap, A. J. (2010). Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance. Psychological Science, 21(10), 1363–1368.

Lesiuk, T. (2005). The effect of music listening on work performance. Psychology of Music, 33(2), 173–191.

Sugawara, S. K., Tanaka, S., Okazaki, S., Watanabe, K., & Sadato, N. (2012). Social Rewards Enhance Offline Improvements in Motor Skill. PLoS ONE, 7(11), e48174.

Verplanken, B., & Holland, R. W. (2002). Motivated decision making: Effects of activation and self-centrality of values on choices and behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 434–447.

Ware, M. (2015). The Negative Effects of a Starvation Diet. Livestrong. Retrieved from