Mississippi State Department of Health

Elements of a Worksite Wellness Program


Physical Activity

Activity Breaks During Meetings

If you incorporate physical activity breaks into your meetings, you will find that participants have increased energy, attention span and participation, and less fatigue. Taking a few minutes to move around can save much time in lost productivity.

Increasing Physical Activity in the Worksite

The primary purpose of workplace interventions is to encourage employee education and physical activity. Regular physical activity is one of the most effective disease prevention behaviors. Physical activity programs can range from simple to extensive, with varying implementation costs. Some of the benefits of physical activity include:

Create a Stairwell Campaign

Encouraging employees to choose the stairs instead of the elevator is a quick way for people to add physical activity to their day.

Make sure the stairwells are well maintained and safe, with no broken steps, handrails, or tripping hazards. The CDC Stairwell to Better Health initiative addresses topics such as stairwell appearance, signage, and safety.

Measuring flights of stairs creates simple staff challenges and competitions. For example, groups can set goals such as “climbing the Empire State Building” or convert steps to miles and walk.

Walk and Talk Meetings

Conduct meetings while walking around the building, field, or campus. This will provide workers with a break from stationary desks and repetitive movements.

How to Designate Safe Walking Routes

Walking while at work is a great way to increase physical activity. It is important to make sure that the walking environment is safe and attractive. Walkability is the idea of quantifying and improving the safety and desirability of the walking routes. At work, these can be streets and sidewalks between buildings on your campus; city blocks if you work in a downtown area; or even nature trails at your work. Many people work on campuses that have more than one building, and they may work in one building and have meetings in another. Creating a walkability audit can broadly assess pedestrian facilities, destinations and surroundings along and near a walking route, and identify specific improvements that would make the route more attractive and useful to pedestrians.

For additional information, please contact the State Employee Wellness Program Director at 601-206-1559.

Stretch Breaks

Standing or sitting for long periods of time can take a toll on your muscles. To prevent or reduce stiffness and pain, try simple exercises and stretches from the National Institutes of Health throughout the day. Employers should encourage employees to take frequent stretch breaks and lead group stretch routines. Stretch breaks should also occur before and during meetings.

Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSD) are injuries or disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, and spinal discs. Examples of work conditions that may lead to WMSD include routine lifting of heavy objects, daily exposure to whole body vibration, routine overhead work, work with the neck in chronic flexion position, or performing repetitive forceful tasks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) offers tools and resources to help employers implement health related programs to reduce and prevent WMSD.

Other Physical Activity Strategies

Please refer to the CDC Workplace Health Promotion Tools and Resources for walking campaign tools and worksite walking campaign tools.

Please refer to the CDC Workplace Health Resource Center for a variety of worksite wellness examples/recommendations/strategies for employers

Food and Nutrition

Hosting an Onsite Farmers’ Market

Businesses and organizations can host an on-site farmers' market to help introduce their employees (and customers) to healthy eating. Local farmers provide fresh vegetables and products, and you provide the facilities – indoors or out.

Steps to Success:

  1. Enlist the help of your Wellness Committee to conduct an employee interest survey to determine whether hosting a farmers' market is a viable option
  2. Once you have decided to host a market, visit the Mississippi Farmers' Market to identify the farmers' market manager in your area and let them know you want to start a market at your worksite. The manager can assist you with farmer recruitment; your role at the worksite will be to provide space and promote the market.
  3. Once your farmers' market is ready to go you will need to promote it. Here are some tips:
    • Get the information to your workers. Use email, flyers, and posters to get people talking.
    • Provide and distribute reusable, insulated bags to your coworkers.
    • Set up fun activities like food demonstrations. Provide taste testing to give workers the opportunity to discover different kinds of foods.
    • Ask employees to submit their favorite recipes using foods from the market. Share them with other employees, through email or monthly newsletters.

For information about hosting a farmers' market, contact the Office of Preventive Health at 601-206-1559.

Healthy Vending

Businesses can decide what foods are in their onsite vending machines. Creating healthy vending policies or initiatives emphasizes that an employer is making the health of the workforce a priority. Many groups, including food vendor specialist groups, have put out models and sets of nutrition standards. Some guidelines are stricter and stronger than others in promoting healthy food. Businesses should choose a standard that is evidence-based as well as realistic. Listed below are evidence-based procurement standards and guidelines:

In the case of vending machines in state facilities, the authority and key partners are largely determined by the federal Randolph-Sheppard Act of 1936. Under the Randolph-Sheppard Vending Facility Program, State Licensing Agencies (SLAs) have the authority to recruit, train and license people who are blind or visually impaired as operators of vending businesses in government facilities.

In collaboration with the Mississippi SLA representative, the Mississippi State Department of Health trained vendors in the National Automatic Merchandising Association's (NAMA) Fit-Pick model. As a result, healthy product purchases have increased over time, and Mississippi's healthy vending machine initiative has found appeal in other worksites, including the NASA Stennis Space Center and some interstate roadside rest areas.

For more information contact the Office of Preventive Health at 601-206-1559. Please visit the resources section for additional toolkits and nutrition templates.

Healthy Catering for Meetings/Events

Employers, community groups and faith communities can make it easier for people to make healthy food choices by providing healthy food at meetings and other events they sponsor.

According to the Maine Cardiovascular Health Program, more than 45% of money spent on food goes to foods eaten away from home. These foods are higher in fat, sodium, and calories and are lower in fiber and calcium. Foods eaten away from home have become a much larger part of Americans' lives. This has a major impact on the quality of the American diet and contributes to the obesity epidemic. Employers can support healthy eating behaviors by selecting caterers who serve healthy food options or by implementing a healthy catering policy. Please visit the resources section to review The Mississippi State Department of Health's Healthy Catering Policy.

Tobacco Cessation

Tobacco Cessation in the Workplace

The two major purposes of tobacco cessation programs in the workplace are encouraging tobacco users to quit, and reducing employee's exposure to second-hand smoke. Establishing tobacco-free workplace policies and decreasing the numbers of employees who model tobacco use will reduce tobacco use initiation among employees and, in addition, may influence tobacco use in employees' families.
Read more about tobacco cessation interventions in the workplace

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) works to address the impact of tobacco use through the Office of Tobacco Control (OTC).


Creating a breastfeeding-friendly worksite will lead to healthier mothers and babies. It benefits employers by making it easier for new moms to return to work. It benefits working new moms by giving them the peace of mind that they can still provide ideal nutrition for their infants. The CDC provides a Lactation Support Toolkit with examples of a comprehensive lactation or breastfeeding support program for nursing mothers at the worksite.

Worksites should strive to create a formal policy to enable breastfeeding employees the ability to express their milk during work hours. A written policy that supports breastfeeding employees includes:

A sample breastfeeding policy can be found in the Business Case for Breastfeeding from the HHS Office of Women's Health.

Healthy Babies, Healthy Businesses

The March of Dimes' Healthy Babies, Healthy Business program is designed for employers looking to improve pregnancy outcomes within their workforce. The cornerstone of the program is My 9 Months, which provides employees with customizable, easy-to-read pregnancy health education online. The unique aspect of this information is that it starts with preconception health to get your employees thinking about lifestyle changes before they become pregnant, increasing their chances of a healthy pregnancy and positive birth outcomes.

It's a great way to engage employees in wellness activities and promote a family-friendly work environment at no cost.

Please contact the March of Dimes State Director of Mississippi if you have any questions or if you would like to have a personalized My 9 Months toolkit designed for your organization.

Dina W. Ray
State Director of Mississippi Chapter MOD

Healthy Messages

Offer workers information about your wellness program. Include educational information about physical activity as well as motivational support. Some tips for effective messaging include:

Evidence-Based Strategies

Evidence-Based Worksite Wellness Strategies

Implementing policy, environmental, and systems (PSE) strategies that address physical activity, nutrition, and tobacco use in the employee population can lead to more comprehensive worksite wellness programs. Examples include:

Please visit CDC Workplace Health Promotion for additional information related to policy, environmental, and systems strategies. The Community Guide provides interventions related to chronic disease prevention, physical activity promotion, and reducing tobacco use.

Low-Cost Employee Wellness Strategies

The following ideas for worksite wellness can implemented with limited resources. Credit: Moda Health

Physical Activity


Stress Management


Program Support

Links referenced on this page
Worksite Physical Activity    https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/worksite-pa/index.htm
Surgeon General Tips for Employers    https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/walking/call-to-action/pdf/employers.pdf
Physical Activity Breaks for the Workplace    https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/initiatives/resource-center/pdf/Workplace-Physical-Activity-Break-Guide-508.pdf
CDC Stairwell to Better Health    https://institute.welcoa.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/stairwell-to-health.pdf
Measuring flights of stairs    http://www.livestrong.com/article/343196-how-to-calculate-stair-climbing-to-miles/
Surgeon General Tips for Employers    https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/walking/call-to-action/pdf/employers.pdf
Walking Campaign Tools    https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/tools-resources/walking-campaign-tools/index.html
Walkability    https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/walking/index.htm
CDC Workplace Health Promotion Tools and Resources    https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/tools-resources/walking-campaign-tools/index.html
CDC Physical Activity    https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/index.html
CDC Workplace Health Resource Center    https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/initiatives/resource-center/index.html
healthy vending policies or initiatives    http://publichealthlawcenter.org/sites/default/files/resources/PHLC.fs_.healthy.vending.procurement.WEB_.2015.pdf
Randolph-Sheppard Act of 1936.    http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/stateprograms/pdf/healthy_vending_machine_initiatives_in_state_facilities.pdf
healthy food choices    https://www.umsystem.edu/totalrewards/wellness/healthy_eating_toolkit_meetings
resources    http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/43,0,277,86,html ok
Healthy Catering Strategies    https://www.heart.org/-/media/healthy-living-files/company-collaboration/healthy-workplace-food-and-beverage-toolkit.pdf?la=en&hash=BDB678F1702B5C3C7BFBEB4FDE54A6183096A9BB
Healthy Catering for Meetings/Events    https://cspinet.org/sites/default/files/attachment/Final%20Healthy%20Meeting%20Toolkit.pdf
Healthy Meeting Resources    https://cspinet.org/protecting-our-health/nutrition/healthy-meetings
MSDH Healthy Catering and Event Guide    http://msdh.ms.gov/page/resources/4717.pdf
tobacco cessation programs    http://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/health-strategies/tobacco-use/
second-hand smoke    http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/43,0,94,611,html ok
Read more about tobacco cessation interventions in the workplace    https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/health-strategies/tobacco-use/interventions/index.html
Tobacco Control (OTC).    http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/43,0,94,html ok
DRay@marchofdimes.org    mailto:DRay@marchofdimes.org
smoke-free buildings    http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/43,0,94,html ok
the Great American Smokeout    http://www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco/greatamericansmokeout/
Tobacco Quitline,    https://quitnow.net/MS/
Local ACT Centers    http://www.act2quit.org/
National Health Observance    https://healthfinder.gov/nho/
on back care and other ergonomic principles    https://www.ors.od.nih.gov/sr/dohs/HealthAndWellness/Ergonomics/Pages/exercises.aspx
work-related musculoskeletal disorders and ergonomics    http://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/health-strategies/musculoskeletal-disorders/
handwashing campaign    http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/14,6459,330,html ok

Find this page at http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/index.cfm

print  close