Seven Ways to Increase Physical Activity in the Workplace May 7th, 2010, by Ken Buckley

Most jobs these days are sedentary. Often after working long hours, employees go straight home to juggling family time with household tasks and social obligations, leaving little opportunity for physical activity.

Driving to work, and skipping breaks during the work day all contribute to a sedentary lifestyle that not only produces a general lack of energy but can also lead to major chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis and depression.

Worplace Health

One way of addressing this problem is to incorporate physical activity into the working day.  Senior management holds an important role in shaping the workplace to support and encourage a healthy and active lifestyle.

The benefits of encouraging physical activity in the workplace through corporate health programs are well documented. Providing opportunities for exercise and developing positive attitudes to healthy behaviours result in happier and healthier employees who are more constructive.

Workplace morale is increased and presenteesism reduced, creating a more productive environment overall.

The Benefits of Regular Physical Activity

The human body was designed to move, and the benefits of an active lifestyle are far reaching. Those who partake in regular physical activity:

  • Have more energy
  • Are more relaxed
  • Sleep better
  • Are less stressed
  • Have a reduced risk of heart attack
  • Are less prone to injury
  • Manage their weight better
  • Have lower blood cholesterol levels
  • Have lower blood pressure
  • Are at less risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Have improved concentration

Seven Ways to Increase Physical Activity in Your Workplace

It’s important to keep the focus on enjoyable and convenient forms of exercise that employees will be able to manage during the working day. 30 minutes a day is enough to make a healthy difference, and can be divided into two or three sessions to make it more manageable.

Try some of the suggestions below.

  • Encourage more walking. Organise short walking breaks on paths nearby the worksite. Suggest parking the car in a safe place a few blocks away, or getting off public transport a stop earlier, and walking the rest of the way to work.
  • Provide for flexible work hours, such as longer lunch breaks or a later/earlier start to encourage employees to schedule an exercise session or to simply go for a walk.
  • Provide onsite fitness equipment or classes, or organise a discount at a nearby gym or recreational facility.
  • Install showers, lockers and secure bicycle storage for those inclined to ride, walk or jog to work.
  • Engage a qualified health professional to talk to employees about ways to improve their activity levels.
  • Organise a company sports team or league.
  • Put up wall charts with instructions for regular stretching routines for desk workers. Encourage employees to get up and talk to colleagues in the office rather than sitting and communicating by email.

Remember it’s all about getting moving, and every little bit helps. The more physically active we can make the workplace, the more vital and energetic it will be, with positive health benefits for both employer and employee in the long term.

For more information on worplace health contact Healthworks on 1300 90 10 90 (International: IDD 61-2-9954-1888 ) and be sure to quote: “post227” for eligibility of Healthworks latest online offers and Corporate Health initiatives.

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