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Improving Levels Of Physical Activity Among British Workers

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By David Saunders, Health Editor | UPDATED: 08:28, 05 June 2020

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued guidance on how employers can support their employees as part of a wider aim to increase levels of physical activity among British workers.

The guidance recommends that employers should encourage workers to exercise on their lunch breaks to combat obesity levels and boost staff satisfaction. Employees should be offered subsidised gym memberships so they can attend yoga or spinning classes to break up their day.

Last year, Nuffield Health commissioned a literature review, with Sport England, which explored what strategies are most effective in reducing physical inactivity, but also sedentary behaviour among employees.

It was identified that the most effective techniques to increase physical activity were found to be a combination of workspace supervised exercise classes and group support. These practices are more efficient because they introduce a social element to exercise. Forming bonds with individuals provides many people with extra motivation to reach group health goals.

When it came to minimising sedentary behaviour, the most effective interventions were investing in active desks and activity prompts. These act as gentle nudges to increase physical movement and gives employees the flexibility to work standing up or sitting down throughout the day.

Nuffield Health Medical and Charity Director, Dr Davina Deniszczyc, comments: “Every workplace is different, so a one-size-fits-all approach simply won’t do. Before developing an in-depth plan for intervention, it may be beneficial to conduct a short survey to understand how employees feel about the proposed methods and which they feel would work best for them personally.

“Interventions must also be adapted to the type of workplace, depending on the space and resources available, people’s work schedules and whether employees work flexibly or remotely.

“Physical activity needs to be engrained in workplace culture from the top-down. There is no substitute for the C-suite getting personally involved. Serving as a role model can be particularly effective for wellness-related programs, but the process needs to be a priority for every manager, and fostering a culture that then champions those on the shop floor to bring that culture to life.

“The benefits of an active workforce are clear, and so too are the risks associated with physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour. By incorporating a range of multi-component wellness offerings into today’s workplace, organisations and employees have nothing to lose, but everything to gain.”

For more insights and the details of further evaluation, download a copy of the report here.