Employees in District 4 Public Health can now make movement an everyday priority. District Health Director Olugbenga Obasanjo, M.D., Ph.D., has issued a physical activity policy that will allow every employee to take 30 minutes during each work day to exercise. The policy goes into effect on Feb. 1.
Staff at District 4 Public Health lead their colleagues in doing the Wobble during a dance break on the district's wellness day.
“Our job as public health employees is to set a good example by leading a healthy lifestyle and encouraging our coworkers and community partners to be active so they can live happier and healthier,” Obasanjo said.
The new physical activity policy mirrors the policy for state employees at the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), which went into effect in December 2012.
Physical activity breaks can be taken in the form of: three 5-minute breaks and one 15-minute break, two 15-minute breaks, one 30-minute break or three each 10-minute breaks.
Supervisors will encourage and allow staff to combine the designated physical activity breaks with lunch breaks, not to exceed 60 minutes total. The time taken during physical activity breaks does not need be made up nor do the breaks require using annual or personal leave. However, these physical activity breaks replace what were previously considered the morning and afternoon breaks. Staff are not allowed to use the designated physical activity break as the first or last 30 minutes of the day.
Encouraging employees to exercise has become a priority for District 4 Public Health. Beginning Oct. 1, 2013, District 4 began incorporating exercise into the workday by instituting “Get up and Move.” Each day at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., the district call center announces that “it is time to get up and move,” and employees are encouraged to stand up and walk for five minutes or join in a group line dance session.
“There is a noticeable difference among the staff. In five minutes, we shake loose our stress and laugh at ourselves. It gives us an opportunity to play together while also being more active,” said Amy Nixon, a human resources assistant.
Adding physical activity into clinical sites is a bit more difficult because of client disruption, but some sites throughout the district are already making physical activity a routine part of the work day. The Haven of Hope clinic in Newnan, Ga., takes part in “Get up and Move” during the day. The staff also encourage their clients to get active with them during their clinic visits.
David Barlow, chairman of the Fayette County Board of Health, said the new policy reflects Obasanjo’s commitment to the good health of his employees.
“He practices what he preaches and in a society that is suffering from obesity, we need all health directors to ‘walk their talk and talk their walk’ and be the example of good health,” he said.