Posted: Tue, 27 Feb 2018 08:55

More than three quarters of the way through this year's 2018 Active Workplace Challenge, the campaign is already beginning to leave its legacy of tackling inactivity in the workplace, as thousands of workers up and down the country take steps towards healthier, happier lives.

Now in its fifth year, this year's challenge has been another unprecedented success with more than 8,000 people across, 600 companies logging activity online. Many of these were previously inactive, but they are using the Workplace Challenge to help make a positive difference to their mental and physical health.

Previous campaigns show the success of Workplace Challenge in driving positive change and maintaining physical activity beyond the initial eight weeks. In fact, independent research into Workplace Challenge, conducted by Loughborough University and published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine last year, shows some hugely encouraging statistics:

  • 86% of challengers are meeting the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week
  • 55% say they are more active and 37% feel more healthy
  • 23% were previously inactive
  • 79% are sedentary at work, showing that the campaign reaches those who need it most

2018 success stories

This year looks set to continue the lasting legacy, as many of those logging activity have already signalled their intentions to maintain their active lifestyles beyond the end of the campaign.

The 2018 campaign is full of positive stories from across a wide range of workplaces that have been supported and inspired by their County Sports Partnerships to help employees to move more in and around the working day. Like at Hinkley Point C, part of the EDF group, where 288 employees signed up to Workplace Challenge as part of a drive to encourage a healthy start to the new year. Some staff have even entered teams into local badminton and dodgeball competitions.

The Shop Direct HQ in Speke, Merseyside, has had more than 300 staff register to the online logging platform in recent months having invested in training for Workplace Champions and they are even planning their own Shop Direct Games in the summer.

Elsewhere Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust has organised a daily midday mile for staff, while Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has seen 73 employees sign up to Workplace Challenge, including the Chief Executive who is regularly logging his activities.

Improving workplace health

So what is the purpose of Workplace Challenge?

Poor health in the workplace is a serious problem, and it's more common than you might think. A lack of exercise is estimated to cost UK businesses £14.9 billion every year in lost working days and decreased productivity1. Workplace Challenge calculates that if we can reduce the average number of annual sick days taken by each person in the UK by just one day, it could save businesses across the country £2.8 billion2.

However, it's not just physical health that organisations must consider. In 2016/17, stress, depression and anxiety accounted for almost half of all sick days3 that were taken in the UK. According to the Government's Thriving at Work report4, this came at a cost of up to £42 billion to employers. Clearly, something needs to change.

Getting active in the lightest and brightest parts of the day is proven to have a positive impact on mental wellbeing by improving our mood, reducing stress and even preventing depression – and that's just of the reason Workplace Challenge encourages bitesize chunks of activity in and around the working day.

What next?

There is just under a week left of the Workplace Challenge left but the campaign itself is just the beginning. Many participants are already planning to continue their physical activity beyond the eight weeks; it might mean taking the stairs instead of the lift, adding a yoga session to the weekly calendar or taking advantage of the new office ping pong table. There are a whole host of resources available online to help keep the momentum going.

Check out ideas from the Workplace Challenge, get support from your local County Sports Partnership, or find out what specific sports governing bodies are already doing to get people active.



Tags: Workplace Challenge