TACKLING INACTIVITY IN THE WORKPLACE
Posted: Mon, 04 Dec 2017 00:01
- Brits sit down for average 8.9 hours per day1, 40% do not exercise enough2
- Around 131 million working days lost to sickness absence in England each year3
- Workplace Challenge wants more people to exercise in and around their working day
- Nationwide, eight week campaign launches in January 2018
Figures show Brits sit down for an average 8.9 hours each day4 and one in four of us do fewer than 30 minutes of physical activity a week5 – alarming statistics which are the driving force behind a nationwide campaign to combat inactivity amongst busy workers.
The 2018 Active Workplace Challenge, now in its fifth year, is an eight-week initiative designed to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of England's working population.
Running from January 8th until March 4th, this year's message is 'make every minute count', as workplaces are encouraged to join forces and introduce ten-minute bitesize chunks of physical activity before, during and after work.
It's all part of Workplace Challenge, the national activity logging resource, which brings together 30 County Sports Partnerships from across England to support and promote physical activity in and around the workplace.
Tackling the issue
Statistics show 40 per cent of people in England do not exercise enough6, despite government guidelines which state that all adults should exercise for 150 minutes each week. Around 131 million working days are lost to sickness in England each year7 and poor mental and physical health amongst our workforce is costing the UK taxpayer over £60 billion8.
Lee Mason, Chief Executive of the County Sports Partnership Network, which runs Workplace Challenge, said: "This is a huge issue, not just for individuals but for businesses and for the overall UK economy too. Too many of us are simply not exercising enough, often because we don't have time, but it is impacting on our health and our productivity.
"People are 20% less active now than they were in the 1960s9 and one in six deaths are caused by physical inactivity – that's the same as smoking10. It's time for us to make some serious changes."
Workplace Challenge encourages employers to sign up and get involved, building on evidence from previous campaigns that team collaboration and peer support can be successful in getting people more active.
Employees can visit the Workplace Challenge website and track their activity through the eight-week challenge and beyond, easily comparing activity levels to other participating individuals and organisations.
There will also be a series of initiatives, events, inspiration and advice provided by County Sports Partnerships across England, each designed to help people improve their physical and mental wellbeing by getting more active in and around their working day.
The focus will be on encouraging workers to walk, jog, run or cycle one mile each day during the challenge, with a particular emphasis on stepping away from their desks during the lightest and brightest part of the day and tackling the culture of a desk-bound lunch. NHS guidelines state that getting plenty of regular exercise, particularly outdoors and in daylight, can help to improve symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Lee Mason adds: "Workplace wellness programmes can reduce absenteeism by as much as 42%11 and we have seen in previous years the positive impact that the Workplace Challenge eight week challenge has had.
"Participating organisations last year reported a 73% increase in inactive employees taking part in sport after three months and 84% of inactive workers were reaching the Government target of 150 minutes of exercise each week, after six months.
"In total, sickness absence was reduced by 0.6 days – an incredible achievement when you consider that if we can reduce the average number of sick days per person, per year, by just by one day, it could save an estimated £2.8 billion12."
To find out more about how your workplace can get involved in the 2018 Active Workplace Challenge visit www.workplacechallenge.org.uk/2018challenge
- Public Health England
- Public Health England