Workplace Workouts: The Importance of Keeping Active at Work

We all understand the importance of physical fitness, but when working full time, it can be difficult to find opportunities to stay active. In recent years, many companies have acknowledged this as a responsibility to their employees and have implement physical fitness initiatives in the workplace to keep their workforce active. In a study by Westfield Health, one in five employees reported that physical wellbeing support from their employer is below average or very poor, with a further 43% saying the support they received was only ‘average’. This article will explore the importance of physical fitness at work and some strategies that employers can use to efficiently create an active culture in the workplace.

The Benefits of Physical Fitness in the Workplace

Firstly, why is physical fitness so important? Many workplaces view physical wellbeing as something to be practiced outside of work hours, and therefore employers do not view it as their responsibility. However, balancing working and family commitments can leave many full-time workers without the opportunity to maintain their physical fitness. Therefore, employers should take the time to encourage fitness within the routine of the workplace.

Physical wellbeing is essential in the workplace, as it is proven to increase concentration and enhance productivity. Breaks at work also become more defined when employees are encouraged to leave their desks and participate in activity. This can help individual to feel more balanced by encouraging a healthier routine, both physically and mentally. With a more active lifestyle, staff are more likely to sleep better and therefore have more energy throughout the working day.

Studies have found that physical fitness initiatives in the workplace reduce absenteeism by up to 20%, and physically active workers take 27% fewer sick days. With this evidence, companies should view physical fitness initiatives as an investment into employee wellbeing and satisfaction, which will therefore not only benefit individual, but the company as a whole. 

Active Spaces

While many large workplaces have on-site gyms with extensive facilities, this is not realistic for most workplaces. Without facilities on site, many employers neglect efforts to encourage physical wellbeing, as 47% of employees reported that they don’t have access to any form of physical activity provision or facilities at work. A more dynamic and affordable solutions to support physical wellbeing could be using active spaces. This simply means utilising a multi-purpose area, for example a flexible room or outdoor space, and dedicating this space to activities and fitness.

Employers can hire professional personal trainers to attend workplaces to teach classes, for example yoga or Pilates. Alternatively, employees can volunteer to teach their co-workers, or online resources can be used effectively. Organised physical activity not only supports physical and mental wellbeing, but can also build team relationships and leadership skills.

Staying Active from Home

With more people working from home as a result of the pandemic, there are growing concerns surrounding the health risks of sedentary lifestyles. Without commuting to work or walking around the office, many no longer have the necessity to leave their desks. These small amounts of exercise which often go unnoticed have positive long-term effects, which is why many health experts are now worried about our increasingly sedentary lifestyles over the last year.

Employers are being encouraged to organise online activities, from workouts to yoga sessions, in order to support physical wellbeing from home. Collaborative fitness initiatives can also be a great way to build a sense of community while also keeping employees physically health, for example charity sponsorships for running or cycling, which can be done remotely from the office.

Implementing Active Programmes

As an employer, it is important to remember that all your employees are different, and therefore one size does not fit all in relation to physical fitness. A great way to start implementing physical wellbeing is by taking a survey within the office to see what kinds of activity people would be interested in participating in, in order to get the highest turnout and employee satisfaction