Recently at the Healthy Pittsfield Partners meeting our volunteer group was curious why people were not availing themselves of all the free fitness and workout opportunities being offered by the Mayor’s Fitness Challenge.
One reason that came up was that it is not part of the work place culture. The workplace culture tends to be “work when you are at work” and exercise when you get home. This compartmentalization of your life sounds reasonable at first. However most people get home exhausted, tired and unmotivated to be active.
I can hear some die hards saying “get up early and workout before work.” If only it was that easy. So what is the solution? Could there be a top down directive where the boss wants his or her workers to exercise during the day? What would happen to productivity, worker relationships and days off?
According to research released last week by the British Heart Foundation National Centre for Physical Activity and Health (BHFNC) the UK’s culture of not taking a lunch break is damaging the nation’s health.
The research highlighted that employees cited ‘lack of flexible working practices’ as the biggest barrier to exercise and commonly said that ‘a working day and commute left them feeling tired and little time to exercise in the evening’.
If this is true then perhaps we can rethink the idea that good health practices and working are separate. Perhaps a healthy worker is a happy and productive worker. Now the challenge is out there - which bosses would dare to experiment with flextime in the work place?
I would say the lunch break is a key opportunity for employees to get active and will pay off in the long run. There are establishments in the Berkshires already offering lunchtime yoga or having gyms for there workers - Onyx in Lee for example. I teach yoga there once a week and the workers comment how relaxed they feel afterward. They appreciate stretching out after being at the desk all morning. Reducing stress enhances focus and clearer thinking.
This simple shift in culture, where employers give staff time and opportunities to take part in physical activity during the working week, could make a huge difference. The UK results showed:
▪ The average of 5.31 sick days currently taken per employee reduced by one sickness day per person per year.
▪ This would save businesses across England an estimated £2.8 billion in sickness absence costs.
▪ Reduced presenteeism to create a more engaged and productive workforce.
Why not support your employees to get active in their lunch breaks by organising fitness classes at your workplace?
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