Background: Physical inactivity is associated with several chronic diseases that are costly to society, employers, and individuals. Workplaces are a common location for physical activity (PA) initiatives because of the amount of time individuals who are employed full time spend at work. This research examined a statewide worksite wellness program, the Healthiest Maryland Businesses (HMB) program, to fill an important gap regarding the facilitators for and barriers to implementing workplace policies that support PA. Methods: Individual telephone interviews were conducted in December 2015 with six HMB Coordinators and their supervisor, and from August through October 2016 with a purposeful sample of 15 businesses of various sizes from across Maryland, to learn about the role of leadership, and successes and challenges of implementing PA programs and policies. The sample of businesses was intentionally selected to capture perspectives from a range of businesses. Interviews were recorded and professionally transcribed. Descriptive coding was used to identify dominant themes that addressed the study aims and research questions. Results: PA was not described as a priority for several large and small businesses. To garner more support for PA, interviewees emphasized associating PA initiatives with measures the businesses care about, such as health care costs from claims data. Small businesses also described having a need for PA programming yet reported having significant resource constraints. There was a strong interest in developing guidance for implementing PA break policies, which was mentioned as a critical support for workplace PA promotion. More commitment and investment of resources from leadership, and an engaged wellness committee with company representation at all levels and roles, were identified as vital for impactful programs. Conclusions: Most businesses are implementing PA programs with limited policy supports, which was mentioned as a barrier. Successful implementation of workplace wellness programs broadly, and PA initiatives specifically, are achievable through leadership buy-in, employee input, and policy supports, along with highlighting the economic benefits for businesses.
- Physical activity
- Workplace wellness
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health