How to help your staff move more
Health advice and fads come and go, but one thing that never changes is the fact that a healthy body depends on physical activity. The good news is that even if your employees are desk-based, you can help them make movement a bigger part of their day.
The equation is simple: for better health, move more. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a minimum of 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity per week1. According to the European Commission, however, almost half (49.8%) of the population aged 18 or over in the European Union (EU) did not do any sport in 2014, and only 29.9% spent at least 2.5 hours per week of leisure time doing physical activities2.
As well as an increase in sedentary jobs, the reasons for our rising immobility include longer commutes, screen-based entertainment and technological innovations like lifts and escalators.
As an employer, it’s worth remembering that workplace stress can play a role too. Heavy workloads and deadline pressures might mean longer hours with fewer breaks, and stress in itself makes healthy lifestyle habits harder to maintain.
Why moving more matters
Making time to stand up and exercise has a range of health benefits – including lowering our risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke3 – and regular activity helps boost endorphins4, the feel-good brain chemicals that have a powerful effect on physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
According to WHO, an active lifestyle reduces our susceptibility to stress, anxiety and depression, and could delay the effects of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia5. Other benefits include better sleep and higher energy levels.
So your employees’ activity levels strongly influence how they feel, how well they are and, in turn, how productive they are. What’s more, regular breaks, especially when they involve a change of scenery and movement, can improve concentration and alertness. This is crucial, as long periods of sitting in front of a computer screen lead to fatigue.
These factors make a powerful case for looking at how much your employees move around, and considering ways to help them stand up more.