5-2-1-0 in the workplace

By Lauren Kollauf on Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Make the healthy choice the easy choice for employees

For many Iowans, a large portion of their days are spent in the workplace. In a year, you could spend more than 2,000 hours at your desk! So it's safe to say that the healthy (or unhealthy) habits you practice at work have a major impact on your overall quality of life. 

That's why many workplaces have a workplace wellness program. Some larger companies may even have an entire department dedicated to ensuring the health and wellness of their employees.


Even if your company has robust wellness programming already in place, there is still room to include the 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! message:

  • 5 or more fruits or vegetables.
  • 2 or less hours of recreational screen time.
  • 1 hour or more of physical activity.
  • 0 sugary drinks — drink more water!

Your worksite doesn't need a gym or a cafeteria to incorporate 5-2-1-0. We even have a free 5-2-1-0 in the Workplace Action Guide to help you get started. Here's a few ways you can help encourage your employees to make healthier choices:

Provide healthy snacks and meals

  • When your company hosts a meal for a breakfast or lunch meeting, are bagels and pizza the go-to orders? Consider healthier choices like fresh fruit, whole-grain breads, veggie trays and salads. Fill your employees up and avoid the afternoon carb crash.
  • Make the healthy choices the easy choice for employees seeking a snack. Take a vending machine assessment to improve your worksite's nutrition environment. Better yet, provide a bowl of fresh fruit in the break room for employees.

5-2-1-0: It's not just for kids — tips for adults to live 5-2-1-0 too!

Take a break from the screen

  • Too much screen-time can lead to eye strain which causes headaches, fatigue and blurred or double vision. Educate your employees on eye strain and how to avoid it by printing tips on posters to display around the office.
  • Encourage employees to make their breaks screen-free. Set out puzzles, games or crosswords in common areas to encourage employees to connect with their co-workers instead of browsing social media while on break.


Add movement to your workday

  • Encourage managers to schedule walking meetings when possible with their team. Even if the whole meeting cannot be done while walking, use the first ten minutes to walk while you catch up. 
  • Increase signage that point to stairwells — if people are more aware of their options, they may choose the stairs over the elevator!
  • Organize a walking club. Meet daily or weekly for a brisk 30-minute walk over the lunch hour.

MORE: Check out FREE 5-2-1-0 in the Workplace resources

Offer water as an option

  • Set up a “What’s Your Flavor-ite?” flavored water taste-testing station with water infused with different fruits, vegetables and herbs. 
  • Do your vending machines offer options besides sugar-sweetened beverages? Try adding no-sugar added flavored waters, milk or unsweetened tea. 
  • Give away company-sponsored water bottles or tumblers to as an incentive for your employees to drink water instead of soda.

Become a 5-2-1-0 Registered Workplace:

Becoming a 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! Registered Workplace is free and easy. The process gives your organization an opportunity to evaluate your policies, systems and environments to support a healthy lifestyle. It also makes you eligible to win a Healthiest State Annual Award! Learn more and get registered here.


5210Healthy Choices Count! is a health-focused movement for kids that’s under the nationally recognized program, 5-2-1-0, but its principles aren’t just for kids — adults can benefit from practicing these scientifically proven healthy habits too. Learn more.