by Dean Witherspoon   Dean's profile on LinkedIn  

Many wellness managers we know have emphasized the “physical fitness” part of Physical Fitness & Sports Month each May for years. But some shy away from sports programming because they believe many adults aren’t comfortable with the skills required, the competitive aspects, or any bad feelings held over from high school gym class.

While we don’t minimize these concerns, we also know sports offer advantages typical exercise programs don’t, namely:

  • The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Friendly competition is fun, win or lose.
  • Camaraderie. Working with others on a sports team enhances esprit de corps.
  • A chance to learn new skills. Once you know how to peddle, you’ve mastered the exciting skill of riding a stationary bike. Yes… bells, whistles, and flashing lights can add interest, but it’s not the same as learning to serve overhand in volleyball or turn a double play in softball.
  • A reason for moving. Healthy yet inactive people often need an external motivator to get going — they just don’t see the benefits of jogging. Sports have a goal that can make you want to move.

Consider a “Something for Everyone” sports theme for Physical Fitness & Sports Month. Some ideas:

  • Use the whole month. There are 22 business days in May; plan something for each.
  • Set aside the first and last days (May 1, 31) for kickoff or wrap-up events — a fun walk, health fair, sports challenge, Olympic athlete guest speaker — to generate interest and excitement.
  • Fill the other 19 days with 45-minute workshops on different sports where you invite a local expert to cover the basics. It’s not that hard to come up with 19. In fact, you may want even more to pull in more participants.
  • Hold sports awards prize drawings for everything from active wear to state park passes.
  • Conduct an incentive program throughout the month where any sports activity can count toward the goal.
  • Stress all levels of participation — from beginner to advanced. Enlist the help of experienced sports enthusiasts for workshops, demonstrations, resource referrals, etc.
  • Highlight well known or exceptionally skilled employees’ sports accomplishments.
  • Consider a parents’ workshop where mom and dad can learn the finer points of their child’s sports like soccer or little league baseball.
  • Create a “Local Sports at a Glance” handout that tells how to get involved with area sports activities. Check with your parks and recreation department to start.

Although we’re a nation of sports junkies, much of our involvement (if you can call it that) has been as spectators. But there really is something for everyone who wants to add to their enjoyment of physical activity. Take the opportunity this May to show your clients how.

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