Whether your company goes bowling or plays softball against rival businesses, having a competitive activity your workers will enjoy is a smart play for entrepreneurs.  

Unfortunately, U.S. businesses that sponsor a company athletic team are turning into something of an endangered species. The Wall Street Journal reports that just 12 percent of companies nationwide have competitive athletic teams, down from 29 percent in 2007.

New York-based law firm Heidell, Pittoni, Murphy & Bach plays softball against other corporate teams in the New York Corporate Athletic League every summer, but the number of teams in the league has fallen from 30 in 2008 to just eight today. And the decline appears to be a long-term trend. The Amateur Softball Association told the WSJ its adult-team registrations in 2013 were down 56 percent compared with 20 years ago.

The gradual erosion of corporate athletic teams may sound like a relatively insignificant development, but it does spell trouble for employee health. One of the reasons sports teams can be a more effective way to promote employee wellness than, say, a single 5K run is that the frequency of the game lends itself to regular exercise

So what if a company sports team isn't in the cards? Here are three other ways to encourage your employees to get healthy, from the Inc.com archives:

1. Make lunchtime fitness possible.

Rather than allowing employees 30 minutes to grab a burger and fries, Bandwidth, a Raleigh, North Carolina, communications technology company, encourages 90-minute lunches. That way, employees actually have time to hit the gym. The company further encourages physical activity by sponsoring sports teams.

2. Outsource your wellness.

Atlanta-based packaging company Printpack lacked the expertise to design and carry out a fitness program, so it outsourced the task to the online fitness and wellness concierge TourdeFit. No more negotiating contracts with fitness centers or trying to find resources for its employees across the globe. Employees can find what is best for them, which makes people more likely to get in shape.

3. Appeal to employees' sense of competition.

The Stratford, Connecticut, manufacturer Ashcroft implemented a yearlong fitness program that focuses on friendly competition. Employees can form teams or compete one on one in programs put together by GlobalFit.

What does your team do to improve employee wellness and morale?