As obesity and related disease increases globally, so too do the associated costs incurred by employers and governments. When it comes to exercise and activity the Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. For many employees however, it is difficult to meet this recommendation.
Increasingly employer organisations are implementing wellness initiatives designed to help tackle the obesity epidemic which allow employees to incorporate exercise into their working day – reduced gym membership, complimentary exercise classes, corporate exercise challenges etc. There are big business benefits associated with having a fit workforce but what about a NEAT workforce?
Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy expenditure of all physical activities other than those done with the specific intention of developing or maintain fitness. Movement of some level is a necessity for everyone, however a sedentary lifestyle mean adults of similar sizes can have markedly variable NEAT levels – up to 2,000 calories per day.
Simply moving more and sitting less can boost a person’s health whether they are a couch potato or leading a more active life. There are easy ways to incorporate NEAT activities at work and behaviours which should be encouraged. Here’s a few suggestions:
- Make company-wide ‘appointments to move’ – Sitting for extended periods of time can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and obesity. Encourage on the hour ‘walk abouts’.
- Invest in company pedometers – a lot of your team might already have these built into their mobile phones but providing company sponsored pedometers means you can set team targets and daily goals.
- Use the stairs – use posters and other communication channels to get people choosing the stairs.
- Meetings on foot – walking and standing meetings are becoming increasingly common. If there is an option to get people moving in their own meetings encourage that behaviour.
- Make sitting a strength – invest in some stability balls, these are great to help build core strength and burn calories.
- Offer standing desks – a few standing hot desks dotted throughout the office space will give people the option for a real change of scenery and will help improve their NEAT.
Author: Sara Glynn –Wrkit Marketing Executive
On the build-up to Wellbeing Day 2017 there was an increased level of ‘fit’ and ‘food’ chat around our offices. It was a fantastic bi-product of this national initiative but left me wondering about the sustainable and ongoing wellbeing programs offered by employer organisations. Are we doing enough to encourage an active lifestyle? Does it really matter if we’re not?
According to the NHS, to stay healthy adults should be active daily and aim to achieve at least 150 minutes of physical activity over a week through a variety of activities – that’s approximately 22 minutes a day. With obesity and related chronic illness on the rise it seems people just aren’t finding the time to get active – it is our responsibility as employers to encourage our employees to be active.
Putting aside the ethics of caring about your employees, there are so many business reasons to encourage this behaviour as part of the working day. Exercise has a profound positive impact on individuals mental and physical health each with a knock-on effect to your business.
Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
- Reduced Stress – The economic cost of stress in the workplace is ever increasing – research shows that exercising with an elevated heart rate can reduce mental and physical stress. Getting active and breaking a sweat can increase concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress.
- Improved Self-Confidence – For the individual, physical exercise can boost self-esteem and improve positive self-image. Confidant sales people, customer service reps positive about the impact they make, developers and designers boldly innovating – Confident individuals contribute to a confident business.
- Boost Brainpower – Studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance. Physically active employees may be more efficient in their roles, performing at an enhanced mental capacity.
- Sharpened Memory – Regular physical activity boosts memory and improves our ability to learn new things. If you are investing in training your team, you should be investing in their physical activity also.
- Prevent Cognitive Decline – Working out, especially between age 25 and 45, boosts chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning. With an ever-aging workforce getting your team active now will pay off in the long run.
- Inspire Creativity – The Huffington Post sites research within the area of exercise, mood and creativity which found that working-out with an elevated heart rate can boost creativity for two hours post work-out. If you are looking across the table at a designer with ‘designers block’ it’s in your best interest to encourage them to take a break a go for a jog.
These mental benefits are just the tip of iceberg, combined with the positive impact on physical health your business could see improvements to:
- business performance
- staff morale
- employee engagement
In addition to reducing:
- accidents and work-related ill health;
- absenteeism and sick pay
- insurance costs
The negative physical effects of a sedentary lifestyle are well publicised but it’s important to realise as an individual and as an employer – if a person is not getting regular exercise it impacts cognitive ability as well as health.
Speak to our team today to find out how POWR Life can help maximise your employee performance – firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Jonathan O’Connell – Wrkit CEO