West of England businesses could save £73m by supporting an active workplace

Lisa Wood
Project Manager - Health and Physical Activity | West of England Sport Trust
24th May 2018
Member roleInitiative member

In the 1960s only 1 percent of men and 2 percent of women in England were classed as obese. Today that figure stands at 25.2 percent and 27.7 percent.

While a variety of diet and lifestyle factors have played a part in this, from car ownership to the increased sugar content of foods, there’s no ignoring the fact that as the economy has evolved, less and less of us are engaging in manual work than we used to, meaning it is more important than ever to maintain active workplaces.

Whereas a manual labourer will burn off around 2,300 calories during the course of a day, sedentary office workers will burn off less than a quarter of that sitting for 8 hours a day. Factor in the growing ‘cake culture’ in the UK and it’s easy to see why the nation’s workers are in the midst of a looming obesity epidemic.

But it’s not just obesity, the damage that sitting does to our bodies is increasingly being recognised, muscular-skeletal disorder, diabetes, for example, staring at a VDU all day, the list goes on…

In response, many British businesses have stepped up to the plate in terms of employee wellbeing enabling them to make the right choices and keep active – after all a healthier workforce is a happier and more productive workforce. 

So here’s what you can do to maintain a fit and healthy active workplace:

Get fit during your commute

Leave the car at home and walk or cycle to work.

Every hour you spend in a car makes you 6 percent more likely to be obese. Every kilometre you walk reduces it by almost 5 percent.

What’s more, studies show that commuters who opt for an active commute have much higher levels of well-being than motorists or those who take a bus or a train.

Increasingly workplaces and transport charities are incentivising employees to commute by foot or by bike by offering a prize for the team or individuals who log the most miles.

There are numerous salary sacrifice and bike loan schemes open to West of England businesses too.

Get a team together

Beat your competitors on the sports field by joining an inter-workplace tournament. It’s a great way of keeping staff fit and healthy and is great for teambuilding.

Wesport run inter-workplace sports competitions across the region. Here’s a taster of what’s coming up this summer:

• Tues 22nd May  - Softball - Dings RFC, Frenchay BS34 7RG 

• Wed 6th June - Table Tennis - SGS College, WISE Campus Filton BS34 8LP

• Thurs 28th June - Rounders - Dings RFC, Frenchay BS16 1LG 

• Tues 10th July & Tues 17th July -  Katakanu (Canoe watersports) - Bristol Harbourside (All Aboard Ctr) 

• Thurs 23rd August - Netball - Abbeywood School BS34 8SF

Keep moving during the day

When you sit at your desk your blood flows slower and your muscles burn less fat – the pancreas produces more insulin too, which could lead to diabetes.

You also put yourself at risk of cancer, as you produce less antioxidants when you sit for extended periods. Not to mention the back and hip problems sitting creates.

A stand up desk is a good solution, so too is sitting on an exercise ball. You could also set a timer as reminder to get up and move about or do some simple stretching exercises.

And don’t spend your lunchbreak at your desk! Go for a walk with colleagues or nip out for a swim or go to the gym. More and more workplaces are offering discounted gym membership to ensure their workforce stays active.

West of England businesses would save £73,800,420 if they were to lose just 1 day less in sick days per employee, so what are you waiting for?

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  • The West of England Initiative

    Provides an effective link between private and public sectors to ensure the interests of commerce are considered in key decision making.