According to studies conducted at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, working out with others boosts motivation and accountability thanks to the added social support and friendly competition.
Not to mention, working out doesn’t feel boring, intimidating or time-consuming when someone else is huffing and puffing by your side. So where can you find a group to sweat with? Look no further than around the office. Enlist your co-workers to join in a week-long fitness initiative, and together you can make progress toward reaching your goals.
To start getting active together, see some of our fun ideas below.
Walking 10,000 steps—the equivalent of about five miles—on a daily basis offers a wide variety of health benefits. These include weight management and a decreased risk for a wide variety of health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome, as reported by USA Today.
See who can log the most steps and make it even more exciting by betting on who can be the first to reach 10,000 steps. Get creative in how you integrate more steps into the workday—talk a walk during your lunch break, pace around the office during calls, go to a colleague’s desk instead of sending them an email, or take “walking meetings” rather than sitting in the boardroom.
Harvard Medical School suggests that climbing stairs can burn calories three times faster than walking on a level surface because the incline adds more resistance for your legs and requires a great amount of core stability. The stairs will also increase cardio endurance, promote circulation (which gets disrupted when sitting all day), tones muscle, and boosts energy, among other benefits.
Challenge one another to take the stairs for an entire week—you might be surprised how quickly this becomes a long-term habit. Instead of just climbing the stairs when you get to work, challenge co-workers to stair walking 2 times a day, 3 times a week—it’s a good reason to take a break and stay active at the same time.
Bodyweight exercises are ideal for improving balance, strength, and flexibility without needing any added equipment. These low-maintenance moves can be done almost anywhere—even at the office—so compete against your co-workers to perform the most repetitions before closing time.
“Often, while I’m waiting for the photocopier or microwave, I’ll do small exercises like squats, lunges or calf-raises. If I can squeeze in some excersises periodically during the workday, it just means I have less to cram in later,” says Christina Dulin from Fit2Run.
Who can fit in the most reps in one minute of squats or one minute of calf raises? Better yet, see who can rack up the most reps while doing various bodyweight exercises throughout the day. Keep track on a chart—you’ll be amazed at how much more active you are.
Planks strengthen your entire core, as well as your quads and shoulders. To hit each spot, get into plank position, pull your shoulder blades apart, engage your core and activate your quad muscles, so everything is stiff and straight as a board.
This exercise is a proven way to create lean muscle mass. Prevention recommends starting a daily “plank break” around the office, during which everyone sets a phone alarm for an agreed-upon time, reminding everyone to step away from their computer screens, drop into plank position, and track how long they can hold the stance.
To up the stakes, you can even challenge each other to hold or perform plank variations, including plank leg lifts, side planks, and planking shoulder taps.
Raise the stakes and cross the finish line together—literally—by signing up to participate in a race together. The 5K distance is ideal for beginners and can be trained for in a 1-2 months. Not only will you enjoy the many benefits of running, including improved cardio endurance and stronger legs, but you’ll bonding outside of the office, where you feel more inclined to avoid work conversation and get to know one another.
Start the Challenge
These fitness challenges give you and your co-workers a fun way to introduce more movement into an otherwise sedentary office environment. The support of your colleagues will make exercise seem less like a chore, and the friendly competition will drive you to keep pushing forward when you might normally quit. Over time, these small changes can lead to a healthier and more active life and company culture.