7 Ways To Stay Fit At Work
Oct 21 2016
If you work in an office, chances are you spend most of your time behind your desk, grabbing a sandwich at lunchtime and munching it while you get on with your work (or browse social media!). You’re not alone. Our increasingly sedentary lifestyles are thought to be one of the main causes of ill health. The average employee loses 27 hours of productive time every year due to illness, inactivity and high stress levels, according to research from Britain’s Healthiest Workplace. This is not only miserable for the sufferer, but figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that it could cost the UK’s economy as much as £57 billion in a year in lost productivity.
The good news is that many employers have realised the value of a fit and healthy workforce, and are taking steps to encourage their employees to get active. Here are 7 ways to stay fit at work, with the help of a few schemes and ideas to make your office a fitter and more fun place to work…
1. Cycle to work
Even since Bradley Wiggins pedalled his way to victory in the 2012 Olympics, cycling has become a UK obsession. Whether you’re serious about the sport, or just after a free ride to work and a flatter tummy, commuting to work via bike could be the answer. Cycle2work, run by Halfords, is one of the schemes in which employees pay for a bike using a salary sacrifice scheme (saving both themselves and their employer money in tax and National Insurance). It’s free to sign up to, and the employee could save 42% on the price of a brand-new bike. Cyclescheme.co.uk offers something similar. Forget corporate gym memberships (although to be fair, that’s a good idea too!), cycling is where it’s at!
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2. Health and wellbeing champions
In 2014, the NHS set up a programme inviting members of its staff to volunteer as health and wellbeing champions – tasked with creating health and wellbeing initiatives tailored to their own colleagues. This year, one of these initiatives was Race To Rio – visiting virtual training camps in different nations competing in the Olympics, taking part in sporting activities, then using a fitness tracker to log the distance travelled round this virtual world. League tables and medals made the whole event more fun. It’s worth thinking about whether something like this would work in your own workplace…if your colleagues could cope with you bossing them about, that is!
3. Meetings on the move
Steve Jobs, Apple’s late, great founder and CEO, was a big fan of walking meetings and would regularly take his employees into the great outdoors to talk tactics! It’s a good way of doing business and keeping fit at the same time – plus, walking side-by-side with colleagues or business associates helps reinforce the feeling of a bond between you. From a practical point of view, you’ll need to plan your walking meetings rather than ambling aimlessly – and it might help to download an app you can take notes on, rather than taking notes manually. But why not give it a go?
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4. Employee active days
A popular way of combining fitness and team-building, many employers hold regular employee active days, which can vary from a kickaround and a picnic at the local park to learning conservation skills such as coppicing and haymaking with a charity such as The Conservation Charity. These experiences can cost as much or as little as the employer wants to spend, but can prove invaluable in terms of boosting morale.
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5. Office ping-pong
What’s not to love about having a ping-pong table in your office? Table tennis is fast and frenetic– and you can play a quick game, de-stress and get moving without even having to leave your office! Loop at Work is a scheme set up together with Sport England and equipment suppliers that offers ‘Beat the Boss’ packages which include tables, bats, balls, trophies and everything else that you’ll need to get your colleagues around the table. It’s part of a campaign to get people playing table tennis more regularly – as well as making the office a lot more fun!
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Apple, Nike and Google are amongst the companies offering free yoga classes for their employees. Yoga is low-impact, improves core strength and flexibility, reduces stress and tension, and can be modified for any ability. Plus, you don’t need any special equipment other than room space and a mat – so it’s a great choice for any employer hoping for a healthier workforce. There are yoga practitioners offering classes at work based throughout the UK – try triyoga.co.uk or whitespacestudio.co.uk.
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7. Financial incentives
In the USA, where two-thirds of the adult population are overweight or obese, 80% of large employers are now using some form of financial incentive to increase physical activity, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. These incentives can include prizes for signing up to exercise programmes and achieving wellness goals, or even tying incentives and penalties to health metrics, with workers paying more into their health insurance until they hit optimum weight/cholesterol/blood pressure. However, there’s some debate on how effective these incentives are – after all, someone may sign up for an exercise programme, but it doesn’t mean they’ll actually go! As the saying goes, you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink!
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