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Suffolk businesses urged to help staff get active

Businesses and employees across Suffolk are being urged to leave their laptops for lunchtime yoga and ditch their desks in favour of dumbbells this month, as part of a nationwide initiative designed to bring physical activity into and around the workplace.

Workplace Health Week, which runs from 23-27 May, is a week-long programme of activity designed to inspire businesses and encourage workers to get active. Now in its second-year, the campaign is organised by Workplace Challenge in collaboration with Suffolk Sport and other County Sports Partnerships taking part across England.

NHS guidelines state that adults should try to do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week to stay healthy – but an estimated 40 per cent of people do not exercise enough, according to Public Health England.

And it is not just our health that is suffering. An unhealthy workforce contributes to sickness absence, reduced productivity and an estimated cost of £14.9 billion to businesses in lost working days every year.

Research conducted by Workplace Challenge partners, the British Heart Foundation National Centre for Physical Activity and Health (BHFNC) shows that time is the biggest barrier to sport and activity, which is why Workplace Health Week is encouraging employers to focus on flexible working and active lunch breaks to help bring physical activity into and around the working day.

More than 48,000 employees from over 8,000 businesses across England have already signed up to Workplace Challenge. Employers are urged to get involved with a different focus each day via a free, online activity tool, which includes tailored sport and physical activity knowledge and opportunities. Participants can even track their progress towards the recommended 150 minutes of exercise with their own personal dashboard.

The highlight of the week is a Midday Mile at 12noon on Thursday 26 May, where individuals are encouraged to leave their desk to walk, jog, run or cycle one mile – with the support of their employers of course.

Susannah Challis, Workplace Challenge Lead at Suffolk Sport said: “We want to encourage people to get away from their desks and get active, but they need support from their employers to be able to do that so we are asking businesses to revolutionise the lunch break – and what better time to start than Workplace Health Week?

“Sport England figures show that 57 per cent of adults do not play sport and Public Health England says 40 per cent of us do not exercise enough. This worrying lack of exercise is not just a concern for our health; it is also a concern for the productivity and profit of local businesses.

The average number of sick days per person per year is 5.31 – if we can reduce this figure just by one day by promoting health and wellbeing in the workplace, it could save businesses across England an estimated £2.8 billion.

“And when you consider that we spend 60 per cent of our waking hours at work, there is no better place to introduce the means, motivation and encouragement to exercise.”

For more details, or to complete the free and simple registration, visit www.workplacechallenge.org.uk/suffolk.

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