Wednesday, July 3, 2013

California Wellness Foundation - Honoree: Antronette "Toni" Yancey for Instant Recess

We all know that rising obesity rates are having unprecedented negative effects on physical health as well as the economic viability of our healthcare system, and indeed our entire nation. Despite growing recognition of the role of physical activity in combating this epidemic, there has been little documentation of successful physical activity programs in the workplace, and many schools have cut physical education programs and even recess. The benefits of integrating physical activity into the work or school day are too numerous and important to ignore.

I look at the challenge a little differently than some folks. Given my working class upbringing and experience running health promotion programs in the inner city, I take a common sense approach. If people won't move toward active recreation, then we have to build it into their routine. Nothing gets adopted just because it’s good for you. Instead of framing it as obligation and work, we need to make it about fun, & stress relief!  It has to fit into your life, be reinforced by social norms and be simple.  We can’t focus only on individuals motivated to adopt healthy behaviors on their own time. In order to make real progress, we need a simple solution that’s fun, cost effective and widely accessible – especially to those who need it most. That’s why I created Instant Recess®.

Instant Recess® is infused with all the fun and freedom you got from recess in the schoolyard. Simply put, it’s a brief, low-impact, simple and structured group physical activity, integrated into the routine of the work or school day -- and, especially, during those endless meetings.

Over the long run, these short activity breaks entice everyone to adopt healthier lifestyles through more water, fruit and veggie intake, and more exercise during non-work hours. When leaders in the organization participate, it creates a low-pressure opportunity to build relationships with the team, enhancing engagement. Kids learn that activity and fitness is normal and fun, and not just for super athletes.

With hardly any financial investment and taking very little time from the work or school day, we’re finding that What’s good for the waistline is good for the bottom line, whether the bottom line is company profits or academic performance.

Toni Yancey, MD, MPH

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