IT works out, and gets fit

By Mary K. Pratt, Computerworld |  Business, fitness

Schell says the on-site 24/7 gym helps him fit workouts into his day, and he often bumps into IT employees who have just finished overnight shifts and are getting some exercise before going home.

"It's all about convenience," he adds.

Other companies are making a push to integrate health and wellness into the DNA of the IT department.

"Our IT workers do have a challenge fitting work-life balance into their schedules, but I can tell you that the IT workers are highly engaged in our wellness program," says Bob Merberg, wellness program manager at Paychex Inc., a payroll services company headquartered in Rochester, N.Y.

Merberg says there's no specific program that draws in techies. Rather, the company and its IT leaders had to build a culture that made health as important as other components of the IT department.

Walking the Walk

Paychex database administrator Laurie Wright says she has seen an evolution in how her department regards these programs.

"There was probably initially a lot of hesitation, not because they were concerned that we wouldn't get our work done but because we support production and something might happen [while] we were out running," she says, with a laugh. "But we showed we could handle ourselves. If you work in a stressful kind of environment like IT, you know you have to rely on your co-workers, and you can work out plans that can fit everyone's needs."

Wright's an example of that. A 20-year veteran of IT, she led a team of IT workers that logged the highest number of average steps in the Northeast division in the company's most recent eight-week Eat Well Live Well challenge. Wright says she started wearing a pedometer when she first began participating in the company's wellness program.

"I was surprised to learn that I didn't even walk 2,000 [steps]. Now, on a normal day I can get 10,000," she says, attributing the improvement to both little changes like taking the stairs instead of the elevator and using the company's outdoor walking track. She even walks around her office as she talks on the phone.

Wright, who has lost 40 pounds and lowered her blood sugar, says she has seen changes in some managers. She says at least one is likely to suggest walking the track while meeting with others.

Indeed, workers, wellness program administrators and IT leaders themselves agree that the best way to get techies to participate in a company's fitness regimens is to make them part of the department's culture.


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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