Organizational Wellness

10 Wellness and Fitness Challenge Ideas for Your Employees

Aug 30, 2023
Last Updated Feb 22, 2024

There are so many tips about how to stay healthy at work: Take screen breaks every hour, do regular stretches to improve posture, go for a walk after lunch. And, sure, they all sound practical — until you have a four-hour block of meetings in the morning, and then spend the afternoon catching up on everything that came in during those meetings. 

If we're honest, this sounds like a pretty typical Tuesday for most people, and that may be an issue. As Gympass found in our recent State of Work-Life Wellness report , 78% of US employees believe their wellbeing is just as important as their salary. This means your employee satisfaction is going to be heavily influenced by your team members' ability to take care of themselves. So how can you help employees build healthier habits? 

Employee fitness challenges are a fun way to get people moving and bring some healthy competition into the workplace. Here are some ideas to inspire you!

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What are office fitness challenges?

Fitness challenges for employees are company initiatives to help staff members stay healthy while they work. They encourage people to take breaks from screens, stretch, and move around regularly. 

Some companies reward employees for taking part in their corporate fitness challenges. You could offer gift cards for participants who reach the top of the leaderboard or bring in healthy snacks for everyone to enjoy.

  1. Walking/Step Challenge

A walking challenge is an initiative where employees set weekly or daily step goals. Employees measure their steps with a fitness tracker like a Fitbit, Apple Watch, or app.

There are multiple ways to run a step challenge at work:

  • Individual daily step goal : Everyone aims to hit a set number of steps each day, like 5,000 or 10,000.
  • Step improvers : Everyone uses a fitness tracker for a week or two before the challenge to determine their baseline number of steps. Then employees set a challenge to walk a higher number of steps over the next few weeks.
  • Team step goal : Set a team challenge with a joint target—like one million steps—and see which team hits it fastest.

Whatever walking challenge you choose, the aim is to help people bring more physical activity into their day. For most employees walking is an easily accessible option.

  1. Cycle to Work Challenge

In a cycle-to-work challenge, employees commit to riding their bikes to work for a set period of time. They set a goal for how many times they will ride their bike and then track how close they get to that goal.

This challenge won't be possible for everyone, as some people live too far from the office or do not have a cycle-safe route from home. But team members who can participate will get the double benefits of exercising and spending less time sitting in car traffic each morning!

  1. Sitting Time Reduction Challenge

Remember those guidelines about taking regular breaks and moving around while you work? This challenge helps people follow those recommendations. It prompts people to avoid sitting in the same spot for too long by moving around more often.

Breaking up sitting sessions can help people feel better, be more productive, and have more energy. It can also help your employees stay healthy , even without having to commit to a full workout program. As a study published by Nature Medicine in 2022 found, even short bursts of activity throughout the day can reduce somebody's likelihood of dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer. You can give employees reasons to get out of their chairs throughout the workday — like running daily stand-ups where participants literally stand during or walking during one-on-one meetings.

  1. Deskercise Challenge

Deskercises are exercises you can do at your desk—like stretches, arm circles, leg raises, and wall sits. These exercises help employees stay active during the day and avoid long periods sitting at their desks.

Encourage your employees to participate in this challenge by setting a goal of completing at least ten minutes of tasks each day. You could also create a schedule where everyone completes the same exercises each day. This teamwide activity can help boost morale. And if everyone's taking part, no one will worry that they look silly doing squats at their desk.

  1. Plank Challenge

A plank challenge is a great way to strengthen your core muscles during the workday. It asks employees to hold a static position, usually in a push-up or modified push-up position. 

While the exercise looks fairly simple, it's actually quite challenging—and worth it. It can help improve posture, reduce back pain, and boost overall strength.

Encourage your employees to take part in a plank challenge by setting a planking goal for, say, 30 or 60 seconds each workday. If you have an office space with enough room, you could also organize group plank challenges where everyone tries to hold the position for as long as possible together.

  1. Stair Climbing Challenge

A stair-climbing challenge invites employees to take the stairs instead of the elevator. It's an easy way for most people to add more movement into their day.

Help your employees to take part in this challenge by using a fitness tracker or app that counts how many flights of stairs they climb. You can help employees find ways to add steps to their routine, like getting out of the elevator a couple of floors early or setting up their home office on a different floor from their kitchen.

  1. Online Workout Challenge

Get employees to follow along with online workout videos, either individually or as a team. Stretching or yoga videos will help improve flexibility and posture, while HIIT workouts will give everyone a cardio workout. 

Choose a group exercise that will work for as many people as possible so everyone feels included. Or, let employees choose their own individual workout that fits their fitness level. 

  1. Charity Fitness Event Challenge

A charity fitness event isn’t just an exercise challenge—it’s also a great team-building activity. This event could include 5km or 10km races, obstacle courses, or even a marathon.

Signing up for an organized event gives employees a shared fitness goal to work towards. Even better, employees know they are supporting a good cause too.

  1. Sleep Challenge

To be physically fit, employees need good rest — the American Heart Association added “getting healthy sleep” to their list of factors that are most important for maintaining cardiovascular health in 2022. A full night of sleep gives them the energy they need to move around and improve their overall health. 

A sleep challenge pushes employees to get the rest they need. Employees set a target number of hours of sleep per night—like seven—or a target bedtime.

  1. Hydration Challenge

Put down the coffee and pick up that water bottle!

OK, not entirely—we're not monsters. But most of us could benefit from drinking more water throughout the day, instead of reaching for a sugary, caffeinated drink.

A hydration challenge is a workplace wellness challenge designed to help employees to drink a healthy amount of water at work. Offer branded water bottles and get employees to track their water consumption over a couple of weeks. They should aim to gradually increase it until they’re drinking the recommended amount for their demographics.

Beyond helping employees build healthy habits, this challenge can boost productivity at work too. Staying properly hydrated can help improve focus, give you more energy, and reduce headaches.

Run Workplace Fitness Challenges as a Part of Your Corporate Wellness Program

Company fitness challenges can help motivate your employees to stay healthy, have fun, and strengthen team relationships. If you're looking for more ways to improve your team's overall health and wellbeing, it may be time to start an employee wellness program. Companies can use these programs to support many different aspects of employee wellbeing, including financial, emotional, and physical wellness.

Interested in finding out how you can implement a corporate wellness program to increase work-life wellness for your employees? Gympass can help you foster a happier and healthier workforce, with access to dozens of gyms and health apps. Talk to a wellbeing specialist today!

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Gympass Editorial Team

The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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