The workplace is an important setting to encourage employees to increase their levels of activity to benefit their health and protect against the most common health problems. Physical activity is essential for good health and contribute to positive wellbeing.
WHO defines physical activity as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure – including activities undertaken while working, playing, carrying out household chores, travelling, and engaging in recreational pursuits.
The recommended daily guidelines for Adults aged 18–64 years are:
- At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. One way to do your recommended 150 minutes of weekly physical activity is to do 30 minutes on 5 days a week.
- For additional health benefits, adults should increase their moderate-intensity physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or equivalent.
- Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.
- Research shows that 8 out of 10 women and 7 out of 10 men in Northern Ireland do not engage in sufficient physical activity, many of these people are employed.
- Inactivity is one of the main risk factors for diseases such as coronary heart disease; this may place a significant burden on the health of your employees.
- Physical activity can play a major role in promoting the physical and mental health of employee and can also lead to increased productivity.
- Research has shown that employees who are fit and active have lower levels of absenteeism.
- Physical activity can be used as an effective team building tool.
There are many ways employers can promote physical activity in the workplace such as:
- Encouraging employees to take a walk at lunchtime possibly by organising a group-walking programme or by promoting the use of stairs rather than the lift.
- Provide information about physical activity that is taking place in the local area e.g. posters and leaflets.
- Support and participate in events such as National Bike Week, Bike to Work Week.
Form a company sports team e.g. soccer, gaelic football, netball, rugby, etc. Not only will this
- encourage employees to take part in physical activity but it will also help to increase staff
- morale and cohesion.
Provide shower facilities or changing facilities for employees who wish to take part in physical
- activity during the working day.
Some larger businesses provide exercise facilities, however this can be costly, an alternative
- would be to subsidise the cost of employees joining a gym.
Contact local gyms to see if they could provide a discounted corporate gym membership for
Set up a group which represents employees and management to discuss physical activity in
- your workplace.
Consult with other agencies such as the Health Promotion Department and your local Council
- (Leisure Department).
Ask employees about what would encourage them to become more physically active.
SOURCES OF SUPPORT
• Health Promotion Department (All Trusts) Physical Activity Co-Ordinator
• Local Council Sports Development Department