BPHC logoBoston Moves for Health is helping Boston businesses kick the winter blues by organizing a Race to the Beach challenge. This workplace wellness program, open to all employers in the city, encourages participating teams of 5 to 8 employees to virtually walk or run the 1,715 miles from Boston to sunny Miami.

“I know firsthand the challenges of balancing a healthy lifestyle and a busy work schedule, but small changes add up and can make the difference for a person’s health,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino said. “My staff is already gearing up for some friendly competition. I hope local employers will join us in kicking off a healthy 2013 for their employees.”

To support this effort, the Boston Public Health Commission has released a toolkit that discusses the benefits of worksite wellness programs and provides free or low-cost ideas to promote healthy workplaces, like integrating physical activity, healthy eating, and smoking cessation through the day. The toolkit is available at BostonMovesForHealth.org.

“Workplace wellness programs are a win‐win for employers and employees, and this challenge will encourage workplaces to kickoff new programs, or promote existing programs, in a fun way.” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “By sneaking a little extra physical activity into their day, workers will feel better and be more productive. We are also encouraging employers to help make the healthy choice the easy choice by making other changes, like offering healthy foods and drinks in their facilities.”

Beyond saving money and keeping employees healthy in the long‐term, workplace wellness programs help to create a positive workplace wellness culture. Studies have shown that organizations with effective workplace wellness programs and policies experience higher employee morale, increased worker productivity, reduced voluntary employee turnover, in addition to lowering health care costs.

Participants in the challenge and all Bostonians are encouraged to track their movement at BostonMovesForHealth.org. The initiative recently launched a new partnership with consumer weight-loss company Lose It!, which includes their popular Lose It! app for iPhone and android devices. The new partnership will allow for easier tracking, and gives participants access to Lose It’s features like meal, exercise, and weight tracking, weight-loss, health, and exercise challenges, and many others that Lose It! is now making available for cities and organizations across the U.S.

If you are an employer interested in signing up for the challenge or learning more about workplace wellness, please email bostonmovesforhealth@bphc.org.