8 tips to help employees celebrate National Employee Health and Fitness Month

At long last, spring is here for most of the country. Did you know May is National Employee Health and Fitness Month? Just being able to go outside without having to layer up is enticing. Especially for employees who are considering becoming more active or taking part in a fitness program.

Spring is also a great opportunity for you to promote your culture of health. Many outdoor activities can reduce overall health risk, decrease stress and burn calories at the same time. And working in the garden offers abundant rewards. Use your newsletter or health information portal to help educate your employees about all the ways they can maintain or improve their health by getting out into the great outdoors.

Outdoor chores can ramp up the fitness factor

Employees can even take a guilt-free break from the gym while enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. They can get a total body workout and check off items from their “to-do” list of outdoor chores. Here are some pointers to keep in mind.

  1. Warm up

Walk around the garden for a few minutes to get circulation in gear. Warming up helps prepare muscles and joints for activity and reduces the risk for injury.

  1. Stretch out

Gardening uses the large muscles in the back, shoulders and legs. Be sure to stretch these areas before, during and after gardening.

  1. Mix it up

Change your position every few minutes, and alternate activities every 15 minutes or so. After doing some weeding, switch to raking, then mowing, on to digging, and so on.

  1. Use cool tools

Choose ergonomic gardening tools. These specially designed tools help reduce repetitive stress injuries. They offer a variety of features, including lightweight construction, swiveling handles and longer-handled tools. This allows you to work with less back strain from bending.

  1. Practice good form

Bend your knees when reaching down or picking up.

  1. Get a grip

Exercise equal opportunity gripping. Alternate your grip (switch sides) when raking, digging or hoeing. This promotes muscle balance and coordination.

  1. Protect yourself

Wear gloves to avoid calluses. Wear sunglasses and a hat, apply sunscreen and drink plenty of water. Avoid midday gardening when the sun is strongest.

  1. Twist, and don’t shout

Avoid twisting while lifting or twisting while reaching. This is a common means to a painful end. Take the time to pick things up straight on.


Reminding employees that there are many ways to get and stay fit will help them get on board with your well-being initiatives. To learn more about how Optum® can help you, please visit optum.com.


About the Author:

Grace DeSimone, National Group Fitness Director, OptumGrace

Grace and her group fitness teams manage group exercise classes in worksite wellness programs across the country. She serves on the Executive Council of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Committee on Certification and Registry Board. She is the editor for ACSM’s Resource Manual for Group Exercise Instructors and a regular guest on Radio MD. Grace holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in dance. She is ACSM-certified as a group exercise instructor and personal trainer. In 2016 she was named IDEA Program Director of the Year.

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