Why physical activity in the workplace is so important

22 Apr 2022

Julie Graham FIEP, CEO of Ingeus’ Employment Services, considers the impact exercise has on a person’s physical and mental wellbeing.

A constant flurry of emails, meetings and papers to write can leave us feeling tied to our desks, and it’s only as we log off at the end of the day that we realise we’ve barely moved for eight hours. Thankfully , those days are few and far between at Ingeus.

Employee physical wellbeing is high up on our priority list, and I urge other employers to do the same. Research shows that office workers spending eight hours a day just sitting at a desk are 60% more likely to die early from heart disease. With office life becoming more sedentary than ever, as online calls and home working continue post-pandemic, employees’ physical wellbeing should be a hot topic for employers.

I consider it an employer’s duty of care to look after their employees’ wellbeing – their organisation’s success depends on it. When employees are healthier, they’re happier. And when they’re happier, their productivity increases, and the risk of sick days or absenteeism is much lower.

Physical activity and mental wellbeing go hand-in-hand, with exercise well known to reduce stress and anxiety.

What you can do as an employer

Encouraging physical activity in the workplace can be a great place to start when thinking about adding value to overall employee wellbeing. They don’t have to be expensive offerings either, it’s often the smaller things which can be most inclusive and make the greatest difference to individuals.

Take our ‘Daily Dose of Daylight’ campaign as an example. It’s so simple and costs nothing, but by encouraging our staff to make time in the day to go outside for 30 minutes the rewards are abundant – both for the individual’s energy and stress levels, and their productivity levels for the remainder of the day. I’m keen that anyone struggling to achieve this daily dose discusses it with their line manager so they can get the right level of support.

A few other simple ways you could encourage activity are:

If your staff would prefer something more high intensity, organising discounts at local gyms as part of your employee benefits package is a good place to start. Many gyms offer convenient 30-minute lunchtime exercise classes, giving people a much-needed endorphin boost for the afternoon.

I realise a gym workout isn’t for everyone though, which is why we’re keen to offer a diverse range of activities – we even offer gentle back and neck care exercise sessions to all staff! The most important thing is to appeal to as much of your workforce as possible – after all, employee physical wellbeing is fundamental to your success.

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