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‘Fit’ for work

We all know that regular exercise and a good diet help us to live longer, healthier lives but how much do these two lifestyle choices affect our working lives and at what point does it become the responsibility of a company to step in and help its employees out?

Exercise can contribute towards warding off serious illnesses and prolonging your life as well as keeping your body healthy. There is a myriad of proven reasons why it is good for us from improvements in mood, to addressing bad mental health or poor physicality. It improves our general wellbeing and lessens our chances of a whole host of illnesses so it would seem to be in the interest of the employer to keep the workforce healthy and on its toes – if only to cut back on sick days ! – so should those of us who employ and manage teams invest more in our staff’s physical fitness?

We don’t live in a nanny state and none of us wants to be regulated, however opportunity would probably make us exercise more and a break from work is always appealing… At a guess, the supportive involvement of companies may well be welcomed by quite a few and could generate a real and positive change when it comes to our collective health so, therefore, it’s definitely worth some consideration.

Wellbeing has been a buzz phrase for some time and employers are required to cater for the wellbeing of their workers, particularly in what is now deemed to be a competitive recruitment market for many. It’s been established that the issue of wellbeing ranks highly for many employees seeking out the most desirable employer. And, who knows, there could be as little as a gym pass in it when it comes to the all important decision of which company to apply for and which job to take for some individuals.

Employers are certainly beginning to take note. Gym passes have been on the list for some time as an enticing perk along with group yoga sessions and pilates, however these activities are now more commonly superseded by mindfulness classes, massage and the whole nine yards of gym activity. In fact, some of the bigger companies boast their own gyms and swimming pools – with leisure facilities including saunas and steam rooms if you’re really lucky !

In the absence of such luxury and, indeed, such space, there’s always cycling. Providing employees with bike racks and the facilities to shower and change, encourages a daily dose of healthy exercise as does the availability of standing work stations for those in tune with the recent press on this very topic.

In the last couple of years there have been mountains of column space dedicated to the sit/stand desk, along with standing in the workplace as oppose to sitting and the health benefits of the same. Sitting for prolonged amounts of time - ie. At a desk, at work – has even been likened to the effects of smoking, with the same estimated negative impact on an individual’s health.

Regardless of the press and PR attached to these initiatives, it’s always worth keeping an open mind and approaching what can be done for the good of the workforce with a good old dollop of commonsense. A bit of movement is good for all of us and care for the team’s collective wellbeing is the sign of a good boss, in the first instance. If you can introduce any of the fore-mentioned activities or options – cycling racks, a couple of standing work stations, free gym passes – it’s a good start…

It’s also an idea to lead by example, so get the bike out and get stretching. I’ll see you in the cycle lane.


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