YAKIMA, Wash. -- Dr. Tanny Davenport often recommends exercise for his patients. Davenport isn’t all talk: He exercises daily.

“When I don’t exercise, I actually have less energy,” said Davenport, chief medical officer for Signal Health. “(Exercise) is definitely for both my mental and physical health.”

Davenport also encourages his co-workers to get out and move too — even going as far as getting them to join his gym. And they keep him honest, too.

“I have my gym friends at work who say, ‘Did you work out today?’” he said.

The second annual YHR Holiday Streakin’ Fitness Challenge launched last week. There are many benefits of doing the challenge — completing at least 10 minutes of physical activity for 25 days this month — but this column will talk about one of those reasons: It will help you be better at your job.

Just ask Michelle Lara, general manager of Pier 1 Imports in Union Gap.

Lara, who completed last year’s challenge, exercises early in the morning. When running, she thinks about the day ahead and by the time she arrives to work, she is ready to tackle her to-do list.

“I have a good game plan by the time I arrive,” she said.

If a customer asks for a “strong man” to carry a heavy item, such as a piece of furniture, Lara just smiles and lets the customer knows she can take care of it.

“We’re always on our feet, we’re always moving around,” said Lara about herself and her employees. “It’s good to know my body can handle it.”

Beth Klingele also tries to get an early-morning workout most days.

That positive feeling she gets after a workout stays with her on the job as controller with Tri-Ply Construction in Yakima.

“Even though it takes more of my time (before work), it gives me way more energy,” Klingele said.

Sometimes work gets in the way of Klingele’s workout.

“I have a lot of meetings that happen at 5 p.m.,” she said, noting that schedule can keep her from attending fitness classes after work.

But she knows of friends who make sure to plan meetings around exercise sessions.

“You just have to carve that time (out) and say no to the meetings and the work obligations and make your exercise your priority,” she said.

Klingele’s taken the first step — signing up for the Holiday Streakin’ Fitness Challenge for a second year. “A challenge keeps me motivated,” she said.

She’s also looking forward to a new team competition. She has formed a team and encouraged her co-workers to participate. A few years ago, her company did a two-person team challenge where people measured weight loss and steps. “It was a lot of fun,” Klingele said.

There is plenty of team spirit over at ’Ohana Mammography Center in Yakima. There, senior manager Nancy Roehr has organized not one, but three teams for this year’s challenge. She had T-shirts made for all participants and has planned small breaks of daily physical activity at the office. For example, during the challenge’s first day, she led a 10-minute workout in the conference room.

Roehr sees the month-long event as a fun team-building opportunity and believes she and her employees will not only reap benefits for themselves but also for the clinic and patients.

“Daily fitness relieves stress, makes us stronger and we feel better about ourselves,” she said. “This makes for a happy attitude at work, and happy employees are always more productive and engaged in their roles.”

There’s also one key long-term benefit: Lower health care costs for the employer, said Davenport, the Signal Health chief medical officer.

“(Employees will) be more productive. They’re not going to miss work,” he said. “In general, they’re going to be less expensive from a benefits standpoint.”