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Office Wellness Challenges Your Co-Workers Won’t Hate

Office Wellness Challenges and Tips

“Misery loves company.” That’s the way the old saying goes, but must we be so cynical? Other, better things love company too. Like health and fitness. Notice how you’re less likely to cancel a trip to the gym when you’ve made plans with a workout buddy?

This brings us to your next mission: increase overall office wellness with manageable, yet effective activities.

Why’s this worth your time? First, a healthy office is a productive and responsive one. Ever try to roll out a new system to a bunch of sluggish, sniffling slugs? It makes a tricky task even more difficult. A sharp, energetic staff is more likely to roll with the punches and adapt quickly.

Second, (and this reason’s a bit more selfish) if those you interact with on a daily basis are examples of good health, you too will be more likely to adopt good-for-you habits. Imagine having an office FULL of workout buddies!

Now, we know office dwellers are creatures of habit. Your particular creatures may already be ultra-marathoners and whole foods gurus. Or, they could be more of the coach potato variety. No matter where your colleagues fall on the wellness spectrum, we have ideas for how you can get everyone involved in getting healthy.

Level 1

For: fitness resisters, cynics, couch potatoes, and fast food junkies
Activity: “Meatless Mondays” or “Salad Tuesdays”

415 Catering Salad Bar
Photo via 415 Catering.

On the quest for wellness, it’s important to remember that small changes add up to big results. An office-wide “Meatless Monday” campaign will encourage your colleagues to substitute one cold cut sandwich or takeout burger for a lighter, vegetarian lunch. Or, if subtracting something feels like a turn-off, try “Salad Tuesdays.” Carnivores can still get their fix while getting in their greens.

Level 2

For: the fitness-curious, new year’s resolutioners and offices with a competitive streak
Activity: Office Fitness Contest

Photo via Fitchimp.

Pick a metric or series of metrics. The easiest is body weight, but you can also consider things like cholesterol levels, waist measurements, and blood pressure. Competing individually works, but dividing your office into teams creates camaraderie and increases accountability. Set a start date, end date, and plenty of progress check-ins in-between. If your budget allows it, throw a healthy celebration at the conclusion of the contest (substitute a refreshing fruit salad for cupcakes) and award the winning team with massage gift certificates.

Level 3

For: moderately fit cube-dwellers, generally healthy eaters, and the adventurous
Activity: Group Cleanse

Project Juice
Photo via Project Juice.

DISCLAIMER: OfficeNinjas DOES NOT recommend your entire office consume nothing but maple syrup and lemon juice for 30 days. That is a recipe for a sticky, citrus-scented, rage-filled disaster.

Cleanses needn’t be complete torture. You can, as a group, agree to cut out sugar and processed foods for a few weeks. Or, if you’re up for more of a challenge, check out Kris Carr’s 21-day “Adventure Cleanse” a vegan, high-raw eating plan that aims to restore the body’s alkalinity. Alternatively, The Whole Life Challenge encourages more of a Paleo-inspired diet. It also provides structure and guidance on exercise and work-life balance through a gamified online experience.

Feel free to warm up with Meatless Mondays in January and work towards an all-out vegan cleanse in June. Or modify one of these activities so that it’s better suited to your office’s particular vibe. The point is that you’ll be doing something to create a healthier environment for and your team.

Have you ever participated in a workplace wellness activity or challenge? Share what worked and what didn’t in the comments below.


  1. Our office has done a few 30 Day Challenges at 3 PM when most people start to get the munchies and tune out. We’ve chosen ones that all fitness levels can participate in like, squats, wall-sitting and calf raises.

  2. These are great ideas and not only are they great wellness initiatives but they’re fantastic team building exercises as well! Even something as simple as a “Wellness Wednesday” where the office may provide some healthy alternative snack options that the employees may not already know about can be a simple yet effective ways to broaden the pallet of employees and introduce healthier alternatives into their diets!
    – Jodi Shapiro

  3. My team did a Step It Up Challenge last year for 2 months prior to Thanksgiving. Each team was split up by a neutral party so those that were already active did not end up on the same team. And each person who participated put $20 in the pot. We had 5 teams of 5 and each week we had to submit the amount of steps that were done for the week individually. Once everything was tallied we would post the results of the week. There were bonus points along the way such as the first team to submit the steps got extra points, submit a selfie for extra points, drink 8 glasses of water everyday for extra points, etc. At the end the team who had the most steps won the entire pot. It was so much fun and we will do it again this year!

    1. This sounds GREAT TaSheena! Perfect timing too, right before Thanksgiving ;)

  4. Our office did a fitness challenge where you calculated steps with fit bits type bracelets that some of us couldn’t afford to buy so felt left out. There was also a prize at the end for the winning team chosen by the winning team i.e., breakfast, lunch, dinner etc.. I have a friend on the job who was feeling a little left out so participated, but because of family issues, and a few health problems, it was hard for her to put up money for a prize for the other team, and let alone buy a new updated iPhone type or any kind of a Fitbit. And of course she was on the losing team. So what do you propose about making these thing fair for those who have illnesses or financial issues they might not want to explain to everyone on the job? Also, what are some non monetary things (without shaming) that can be done to illeviate making someone feel horrible who’d like to participate but just can’t, mainly because of the prize at the end, plus… was ok for us to fudge on the steps we took each day….please…suggestions?

    1. Aw bummer, Carol! Those are definitely great concerns to address, especially since there ARE free alternatives. In the case of this particular contest, the fitness watches could be left out completely and employees could have tracked time spent working out (even if those were walks in parks or group trail runs so a gym membership wouldn’t be needed either!). Let us know if you think of any great ideas!

      1. Carol, I’ve done a bunch of these challenges with different companies and here’s some things I’ve seen work. In terms of prizes, if you can get your company involved, you can give the winning team members a day off or they could make a donation to the winning team’s favorite charity (as part of their giving program). On the cheap, you could make a cheesy trophy that gets passed around each year (we use an old sneaker spray-painted gold) or have the losing team dress up like characters from a movie. I find that people want to win more than they want to get the prize so it doesn’t have to be anything crazy. In terms of people participating who can’t give it their all, we have a cumulative option so their points are just contributing to an overall total and if the group reaches it, there’s a small prize. We also give people two weeks to drop out – no reason needed. That way they can participate without feeling bad and/or drop out if it’s not a good fit. Lastly, there are a bunch of free apps that track steps – I think Fitbit’s app does now too even if you don’t have a Fitbit. We also let people track their workouts manually because not everyone likes to carry their phone to track steps. You can checkout our website for ideas ( If you’re a small group, you can do everything we do without technology. As you get bigger, it gets a bit more challenging.

  5. Our team did a Hydration Challenge last year, where each contender tracked how many glasses of water they drank each day at the office and totaled it monthly and quarterly. Coming up with the rules alone was entertaining (i.e. caffeinated drinks = -1), but the guys became really competitive and plan to open it up to the entire office in February.

    1. That’s such a great idea, Melissa. And it seems like something everyone can do no matter what their fitness level or dietary restrictions. Thanks so much for your comment!

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