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Workplace wellbeing: Tips for promoting health and fitness 14 June 2017

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As more Brits become more concerned with their own health and fitness, how can businesses ensure they are supporting their efforts?

British people are more concerned with their health than they've ever been before. Pilates, zumba, body combat and spinning - you name it, people across the UK are signing themselves up to a class to get fit, feel good and improve their health while doing so.

As a result of the fitness trends that have come to prominence in the last couple of years, gym memberships in the UK have reached all-time highs. According to a Leisure Database study of the market for 2016, it was a year of growth for the sector, with a 5.3 per cent increase in the number of people taking on memberships compared to the year before.

This means that there are now more than nine million members of gyms up and down the country, the first time this milestone has ever been reached. In fact, the company said one in every seven Brits is now signed up to a gym, giving the sector an all-time high penetration rate of 14.3 per cent.

Health and fitness is not all about leisure time, however. A new study has linked health and fitness with career progression. According to a study from healthcare charity Nuffield Health, those who earn more tend to work out more. It said that those on £20,000 per year will head to the gym for an hour a week, while those at the upper end of the earning spectrum will go to the gym for an average of three hours a week.

With health, fitness and work so intrinsically linked, should companies be doing more to ensure they support their staff in getting fit and healthy?

Studies would appear to suggest so. According to findings from the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), Brigham Young University and the Center for Health Research at Healthways, those who exercise three times per week are 15 per cent more likely to perform well at work, while those who eat well are 25 per cent more likely to show strong performance levels in the office.

It's also well-known that sedentary office jobs, where people sit for upwards of seven or eight hours a day, can contribute to stress, depression and other mental health issues. That's not to mention the physical problems that sitting down for too long can cause.

With this in mind, how can companies make sure they are doing enough to support employees in being fit, healthy, active and productive all at once?

Supporting employee health and fitness

There are a number of ways that companies can support their staff in efforts to be healthier and fitter, including:

Open offices: Breaking down silos and encouraging hot desking can be a great way to promote activity in modern offices. If people feel like they are not fixed in place, and that they can get up and move around the office when they need to work with others, then it encourages them to be on their feet, interacting and feeling more active than they otherwise might be.

Standing desks: Usually we’d all automatically think of desks having a chair behind them, but in recent years, forward thinking companies have started to see the value of standing desks. The average office worker sits for more than six hours a day, but according to James Levine of the Mayo Clinic, just getting these people on their feet can help them experience strong health benefits. In a study, he found that those who stand can burn up to 50 calories more per hour than those who sit, and all while not having to stop working on the task at hand.

Workplace fitness: Modern office spaces often come with chill out zones or trendy meeting spaces, but what is your company using these for? One way to make the most of open spaces is to bring everyone together to get fit. Even everyone taking part in just one yoga or fitness session a week, can lift moods, lower workplace aggression and improve the way people feel in themselves, according to Livestrong.

Office facilities: One of the main reasons people let their gym memberships lapse is the fact they feel like they don't have the time to go, or struggle to go at the end of a long day. However, if you have a modern office space that allows them to access changing and shower facilities, more people could be encouraged to go to the gym, or even cycle to work, in the morning.

Gym memberships: Away from the office, it can also be a good idea for companies to simply offer their employees the chance to join a gym. For some, cost will be the one reason they've never signed up, but often, companies can negotiate deals and discounts if they manage to get a certain number of their workforce to sign up. And the benefit is you will have an energetic, fit, healthy and happy staff at the other side.

Health and fitness is an increasingly important among Brits, but it's also something that can have real benefits for companies. For this reason, it's vital that decision makers look at some relatively easy but highly positive ways to support staff in their bids to get fit.

To find out more about how our modern office spaces can help you in your efforts to support staff wellbeing, visit our properties section.