Do your employees get enough physical activity? For many of us working means that we spend a lot of time sitting down. Whether that be at a desk while working, on your lunch break eating, commuting to and from work or just unwinding on the sofa.
As an employer, you have the opportunity to encourage employees to increase the amount of physical activity they do. How active somebody is has a large impact on their overall health. When they’re more active, employees tend to be happier, more engaged and much more productive.
The importance of physical wellbeing
Adults of working age in England average about 9.5 hours per day of sedentary time. Sitting down for long periods can lead to higher rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and death from all causes. Regular activity can improve your quality of life, and has also been shown to improve mental wellbeing. It’s known to help relieve stress, improve memory, help you sleep better and boosts your overall mood.
The NHS recommend people get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week, and reduce sitting time by breaking up their day.
How can businesses promote physical wellbeing at work?
Having a dedicated area in your workplace is the ideal solution for promoting physical activity amongst your employees. Not having access to the right facilities often prevents people from being active. By providing your staff with space where they can dedicate some time to being active, people are much more likely to get moving.
This could be achieved by setting aside space in the office that can be used for fitness classes or having an area with gym equipment available for people to use. An active space is an ideal solution for workplaces of all sizes to incorporate a whole workforce fitness initiative.
The past year brought with it the rise of virtual meetings. Now more than ever we are aware of how productive meetings can be in different environments. Walking meetings are a great way to get some physical activity in while continuing to get work done. Of course, this isn’t suitable for all meetings, but for one on one catch-ups with a colleague, it provides the perfect opportunity to get outside and get those thirty minutes of activity.
Offering regular gym classes for your employees can help promote an active lifestyle. Many people find it easier to feel motivated in a class environment than with individual exercise. It’s also a great form of team building if you decide to go in with a few of your colleagues.
Try a variety of classes to suit different people in your workforce. A mixture of high intensity, medium intensity and low-intensity classes means there will be something for everyone. Activities such as yoga are also great for people who sit for the majority of their day as it helps to reduce tension in the body and lengthen and strengthen the muscles.
Setting challenges every so often is a great way to boost employee morale while also promoting physical wellbeing. This can be as simple as setting up a step challenge, where the person who does the most steps in a week wins a prize or encouraging people to use the stairs instead of the lift for a day.
Another great way to promote activity and team building is to train for something together. Encourage your team to sign up for an event like a local 5k, then plan some training sessions. You could also create your own challenges, like teaming up to reach a certain distance on a rowing machine. Doing this together helps to encourage the whole team to get out and move, and then completing the event is a great sense of accomplishment for all those involved.
Encourage active breaks
While sitting down is a large part of many jobs, it’s also important to get up and move around. This can be extending your tea break with a quick active break, or just getting away from your desk and having a good stretch every half an hour. Active breaks are easy for your employees to incorporate into their day, but it’s important to make sure your staff know this is something you encourage to make them feel more comfortable taking breaks away from their desks.
Promoting physical wellbeing in your workplace should be part of a wider wellbeing plan for your company. Employee wellbeing is important, and reducing sedentary behaviour is just one part of a successful health and wellbeing strategy.
Our free Health & Wellbeing Toolkit contains all the information you need to start creating your company's strategy. We also have a range of solutions available to create a bespoke wellbeing plan for your business.