We all know of the importance of regular exercise for a healthy body and mind. But statistics published in the Health Survey for England by the U.K Health and Social Care Information Centre show that less than 1 in 4 adults achieve the recommended amount of physical activity each week for muscular fitness and bone strengthening activities, with only a slight improvement in exercise for heart and lungs (aerobic).
This is reflected in conversations with clients and from feedback we get from digital health surveys. In this current climate, employees with busy schedules report, “I don’t have time” as the number one reason for avoiding the gym.
Work, family, and social commitments do make it difficult to incorporate a regular workout routine and there can be no dispute that finding time for exercise is not always easy. One of the ways we at Celebrate Health & Fitness help employees find more time for exercise, is by enabling them to exercise during their working day, allocating, not only space and equipment but also expert guidance from an onsite Personal Trainer.
Exercise in the workplace is not a new idea but regular physical activity has such a positive impact for both employees and employers, that I think it’s worth revisiting the benefits.
Exercise Breaks and Work
A stated aim of Celebrate Health & Fitness is to encourage exercise before, during and after working hours. With or without a gym, we can generally find some indoor space and take advantage of any outdoor “green” areas for some form of individual or small group exercise activities and employees love it.
You just need to check out some of the testimonials from a range of the small business with whom we work to get a feel for the appreciation that there is a place to work out during the hectic workday.
“It’s difficult to find time in a busy day at work and, even though I have a gym membership, by the time I get home, I really can’t be bothered to do anything, let alone change and drive to the gym so I find an excuse not to exercise”
Having an onsite fitness training eliminates any excuse not to exercise. Take away the “no time” and the “can’t afford it” reasons (excuses?) and what are you left with?
Even if it is only half and hour 2 or 3 times a week and despite an initial perception that exercise would make you feel more tired, in fact the opposite is usually true.
“I feel mentally and physically refreshed after exercising and ready to take on the rest of my day with renewed energy”
Here are some reasons why a company should choose to pay employees to exercise at work:
Providing an opportunity for colleagues to connect outside of a formal work environment fosters healthy personal and professional relationships. By giving employees a gym (or a space to move), a company shows that their commitment to the wellbeing of staff goes beyond a tick-box exercise.
It’s no secret that stress wreaks havoc on the human body. Stressed out employees have trouble focusing, thinking clearly, and making rational decisions. Extensive studies show that exercise helps improve mental health and resilience thus making managing stress, more effective.
Exercise reduces cortisol levels (the body’s “fight or flight” stress hormone) while sweating releases endorphins (the “feel good” hormone) that help the mind to relax.
So instead of reaching for the office sweets and cakes (comfort eating) to handle stress, employees can burn some calories rather than add to their daily calorie count.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the leading cause of death for adults in the UK. According to the British Heart Foundation, the cost of CVD's to the UK economy (including premature death, disability and informal costs) is estimated to be £19 billion each year.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common type of heart and circulatory disease. Strategies to address risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol can significantly reduce the burden of CVD to employers and society. Regular exercise promotes heart health by lowering bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and raising good cholesterol levels (HDL). Exercise helps strengthen the heart, allowing it to work harder and longer. New blood vessels will also form from regular physical activity, which decreases blood pressure.
Energised and Alert
Energy levels are an important indicator of wellbeing and engagement. High scoring on our digital health survey, in answer to the question, “what do you most expect from improving your fitness”, is:
“I want more energy”
One of the best ways to battle fatigue is to workout. Exercise improves circulation and therefore the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the brain. It gives a lasting rush of energy, helping employees to be more responsive and focusses on the task in hand.
Relevant studies for the UK are few and far between but a showed the benefits of exercise aren’t just physical. There is evidence that it boosts mental abilities like:
Some research suggests that exercising during working hours can also pump up work performance. A Leeds Metropolitan University study found that workers who visited the gym during working hours were more productive, managed their time better and felt more work satisfaction.
Less time lost to Sick Days
Regular exercise helps flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways – reducing the risk of the common cold, flu, and other illnesses. Physical activity strengthens your employees’ immune systems – making them less susceptible to whatever bug is going around the office.
Employees that workout regularly are also generally healthier than their sedentary counterparts. This means fewer sick days, less medical appointments, and an overall reduced in absenteeism.
Remember it doesn’t take a state-of-the-art gym to get employees moving, either. Even a small space with some free weights, exercise mats and a Swiss Ball can give employees a great full body workout.
Exercise is commonly used for weight management and weight loss benefits even though we believe that exercise must be paired with a healthy diet to boost weight loss and tone the body.
Obesity in the workplace is a significant issue for employers. Milton Keynes, in the most recent national health survey according to the National Statistics Office, has an adult obesity rate of 74%. That means it is very likely the majority of a company workforce is not just overweight, but obese.
Those who exercise regularly have a much lower risk of obesity.
With close to three quarters of UK adults living with obesity, it’s more important now than ever to consider allowing employees to work out during their day. The benefits you will receive from your employees’ improved health and work performance will more than outweigh the cost of paying them to work out.
A longer, more active life
An active lifestyle significantly lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes, asthma, chronic pains, arthritis, and certain types of cancer.
An active life just might mean a longer, more enjoyable life and I’d say we would all be happy with that whether an employer or employee.
Help with Consultation, Planning and Implementation of Workplace Wellbeing
If you and your company would like to see an increase on the bottom line, just as importantly perhaps, improvement in the quality of life of your team so they can be better employees, parents and more productive members of your community, then we would like to help.
Call or email to arrange a free initial consultation at your place of work.