You’ve probably joked about being a couch potato at one time or another in your life.
But physical inactivity in American society is no laughing matter. In fact, it’s become a serious health dilemma: According to the U.S. Surgeon General, only half of American adults get enough physical activity to reduce their risk of chronic disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. That’s a sobering statistic – and one that prompted a historic event last week, at which Johnson & Johnson was front and center.
On September 9th, the U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy, issued a Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities. This was only the 11th Call to Action in the 144-year span of the Surgeon General’s office, underscoring the severity of America’s level of inactivity.
As the Co-Founder of the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, which provides training to Olympic athletes and everyday workers alike, I was honored to represent Johnson & Johnson, and the worksite wellness industry, at this event.
Walking is an easy way to start and maintain a physically active lifestyle. That is why Surgeon General Murthy aims to increase walking across the nation by calling for access to safe and convenient places to walk and wheelchair roll.
What you may not realize is that little changes you can make in your levels of everyday activity can boost not only your physical fitness, but your brain.
Our own research demonstrates that if employees are physically active, but also get up and move often at regular intervals throughout their workday, they are more focused, engaged, and energized (both at work and at home). Furthermore, they are more intrinsically motivated to get things done. Think of the impact that can have on your productivity and overall job satisfaction. This change is simple to execute, but its effects are so powerful.
Johnson & Johnson’s legacy of ensuring a healthy workplace dates back to the early years of the company, when we offered employees indoor and outdoor exercise facilities (including a swimming pool) and the opportunity to participate in organized sports. We continue that legacy today, having committed to becoming the healthiest workforce in the world.
Our CEO, Alex Gorsky, signed the NCPPA’s CEO Pledge for Physical Activity as a further demonstration of that commitment. “We as leaders must serve as catalysts in helping our employees and communities become more active and engaged in their health,” he stated, in support of the Surgeon General’s Call to Action.
At our offices all around the world, you will see employees busy getting healthier: whether it’s participating as part of #TeamJNJ in the Philadelphia TriRock Triathlon, working out at our employee fitness centers, or using our Official Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout™ App, we walk the walk! But let’s not stop there.
Each one of us needs to step up to this Call to Action and be a catalyst for change. Identify opportunities to walk and move more in your own life, and get others to join you. At work, encourage walking meetings and using the stairs instead of elevators. At home, start a walking program and go for walks with friends or family members – it’s a great way to connect without distractions. In your communities, start or support efforts to ensure safe places to walk and exercise. Let’s get America moving and support vibrant and longer lives.
Dr. Jack Groppel is the Co-Founder of the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute. An internationally recognized authority and pioneer in the science of human performance, and an expert in fitness and nutrition, Dr. Groppel authored The Corporate Athlete book on achieving the pinnacle of corporate performance and co-authored The Corporate Athlete Advantage. He developed the Corporate Athlete®concept for his training program while serving as an associate professor of kinesiology and bioengineering at the University of Illinois, helping both business executives and athletes increase performance levels. Dr. Groppel is also Co-Chair of the newly formed Global Alliance for Health & Performance, the Co-Chair of the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) Health & Performance Study Committee as well as the National Spokesperson for the CEO Pledge of the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity.