What to know

As an employer, you can help improve the health of your employees and create healthier communities by promoting physical activity in your workplace and surrounding community.

Icon showing employer linked to employees


Regardless of your company size, resources, or setting, you can lead efforts to promote physical activity. You can take action within your workplace or in the surrounding community. You can also support employees who are working remotely.

Improve employee health and save money

Creating worksite wellness programs that promote physical activity can help you create a healthier workforce. This can mean lower health care costs for both you and your employees.

Worksite wellness programs can also:

  • Increase employee productivity.
  • Reduce absenteeism.
  • Increase employee morale.
  • Help you attract and keep employees.
Man standing and stretching at office.
Employers can help improve the health of employees and create healthier communities.

What can you do in the workplace?

You can use the following strategies to encourage physical activity among your employees and create a culture of health in your workplace:

Promote worksite programs and policies

  • Provide access to facilities, locations, and programs that help your employees be physically active. For example, provide on-site gyms and walking paths.
  • Use policies and incentives to encourage physical activity. Examples include:
    • Set up walking clubs or competitions that encourage and motivate employees to meet individual or team goals for physical activity.
    • Provide incentives for active commuting.
    • Encourage managers in your organization to support physical activity efforts among staff.

Educate your employees about the benefits of safe physical activity and places to walk, bike, roll, and be active.

  • Communicate specific information about physical activity to your employees.
  • Put up signs and maps that help people find safe places to be active.
  • Provide information about accessibility for people with mobility or other limitations.
  • Give remote employees information about how to be physically active at their work location or in their community.
Woman biking to work.
You can lead efforts to promote physical activity across multiple sectors.

Make your community healthier

You can even take actions outside the workplace to help make the surrounding community more activity-friendly. Such efforts are often through partnerships across multiple sectors. For example, you can:

Support local efforts to create safe and accessible ways for people of all ages and abilities to be physically active outside of work, including:

  • Street, sidewalk, and crosswalk designs to encourage walking, biking, rolling, and other forms of physical activity.
  • Safe, efficient, and easy-to-use public transit systems and transit-oriented development.
  • Community planning, land use, development, and zoning policies and plans that support walking and other forms of physical activity.

These changes may help others be more active in your community, such as retirees, future workers, and your employees' family members. In addition, if you are looking for a new worksite location, choose one that allows employees to walk, bike, or use public transportation when commuting.

Read more: Strategies for Physical Activity Through Community Design

What others are doing

These employers are using effective strategies to increase physical activity in their worksites and communities. Read about their efforts to get ideas for your workplace.

Creating Long-Term Change in Massachusetts
When Fairhaven town officials learned that more than half of their 500 employees wanted to be more active, they made increasing physical activity a workplace wellness priority. They partnered with a local community fitness center to offer on-site yoga and boot camp classes for employees. They also worked with other organizations in the local community to enhance the Phoenix Bike Trail, which is a segment of the South Coast Bikeway.

Promoting Biking to Work in California
In 2018, Mixte Communications, a small public relations firm in San Diego, received a Bicycle Friendly Business Gold designation from the League of American Bicyclists. The company's leadership encouraged its employees to bike to work by providing accessible showers, a flexible dress code, and official bike parking. They also provided workshops on bike maintenance and navigation. By actively promoting a culture of biking among its staff, Mixte also helped promote physical activity and better health.

Creating a Culture of Movement in Utah
At Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, employees identified getting physical activity as a top concern. To address this, leaders created a culture of movement in the workplace. They developed meeting guidelines that added movement breaks and allowed time for stretching and walking between meetings. Posters encouraged movement throughout the day. Leaders provided environmental supports, such as on-site bike storage and showers, and encouraged managers to support and promote physical activity in the workplace.


CDC Workplace Health Resource Center
Tools and step-by-step guides that employers can use to tailor a health promotion program to their unique workplace needs.

CDC Worksite Health ScoreCard
Helps employers assess whether they have implemented evidence-based health promotion interventions or strategies in their worksites to improve the health and well-being of their employees.

Highlights 20 essential desk exercises you can do without leaving your office or home workspace.

Voluntary international certification program assesses wellness amenities and features in buildings, such as stairwell design, outdoor spaces, indoor clean air standards, and healthy food standards.

Guidebook to Implementing an Employer-Based Commute Options Program
Helps employers of all sizes develop and set up programs to support commute options. Strategies include making infrastructure changes and helping employees reduce their commute expenses.

National Physical Activity Plan: Business and Industry Sector
Provides policy and programmatic recommendations to increase physical activity. It includes strategies that communities, organizations, and individuals in the business and industry sector can use to support physically active lifestyles.

Inclusive Worksite Wellness Toolkit
Tips, strategies, and resources to assess whether worksite wellness programs are inclusive of people with disabilities. Can be used to create a new program or ensure that an existing program is reaching employees with disabilities.

Physical Activity in the Workplace: A Guide for Employers
Strategies that employers can use to increase physical activity in the workplace.

Step it Up! The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities
Report calls for increasing walking by improving access to safe and convenient places to walk and wheelchair roll and by creating a culture that supports these activities for people of all ages and abilities.

Walk This Way: A Resource on State and Local Policies That Support Physical Activity and Wellness in and Around the Workplace
Information for decision makers, employers, and other professionals to use to promote wellness in their communities.