For GMU employees, many ways to get up and get moving

September 1, 2013

Organization: George Mason University.

Location:
Fairfax.

Employees: 3,800.

George Mason University is trying to make it easy for its employees to get up and get moving during the workday.

As part of a program called Mason Walk In, the human resources team has mapped out one-mile indoor walking trails in 18 buildings across all three of its campuses. (For example, if a staffer wanted to walk in the Art & Design building, the department created this recommended route: “Begin at room A1023, go one complete circle. Walk up the stairs to 2nd floor, make one complete circle there. Repeat the above steps five times to get your 1.1-mile walk.”) The idea is that staffers have no excuse not to get in a light workout, even when rain, snow or excessive heat makes an outdoor one undesirable.

For days with more pleasant weather, there’s a companion program called Mason Walk Out, which offers staffers outdoor walking routes around the school’s Fairfax campus.

Rita Rowand, a global relations specialist in the office of the provost, has regularly used the trails to conduct walking meetings with her colleagues.

“We feel better doing it, and I think we get a little bit more creative,” Rowand said.

Rowand has also taken advantage of some of Mason’s other offerings that aim to help staffers get healthy. Through the university’s Center for Consciousness and Transformation, employees are able to take free yoga, meditation and salsa classes.

Rowand said she has been more productive in the afternoons since she started regularly attending yoga during her lunch break.

“I find that in the midst of a busy and stressful day, that having an opportunity such as this is really almost life-changing,” Rowand said.

Linda Harber, associate vice president of human resources, said these and other Mason wellness policies are a simple way that the university can show its staff how much it values their work.

“You might not have the money to pay people very high salaries,” Harber said. “But we can manage that we really care about everybody in the community.”

Sarah Halzack is The Washington Post's national retail reporter. She has previously covered the local job market and the business of talent and hiring. She has also served as a Web producer for business and economic news.
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