As a life-long participant in endurance activities and as generally ‘into doing stuff’ type of person, I’ve long been of the opinion that regular activity helps people have better lives. There is now a growing realisation that activity has far reaching benefits that include physical and psychological health, improved creativity and an improved ability to deal with stressful situations. However, despite knowing the benefits, people remain overwhelmingly inactive with more than 20 million people in the UK recently classed as physically inactive.
In Britain, for several generations we have become steadily fatter and less healthy in other ways—particularly in terms of stress-related illness. The figures seem to get worse and worse every year. So why has there been stubbornly little progress and what’s the solution?
We live in a society where time is a precious commodity. It is not lack of information or good intention that has led to an epidemic of generally unfit citizens: it is often the reality of an increasingly pressured existence where people are juggling long hours with the demands of family, friends and communication.
Where and how you live can have a massive impact upon your freedom to exercise. With fewer people able to afford housing convenient for work, the daily commute is long and exhausting for many and doesn’t leave much time or energy for a jog, walk or trip to the gym. Living in shared accommodation until later and later in life can make people inhibited about sport also: after all, many of us don’t relish the thought of arriving back from a sweaty run to an audience of housemates and their friends.
Anxieties about where your life is heading in these volatile times can mean that going out for a brisk walk is the last thing on your mind. Add to this the nature of the new economy. If you earn your living doing gigs for Uber or Deliveroo you are not going to risk being caught out on a run or at the gym when the call comes for you to do some work.
If you have an old-fashioned job where you go to an office and work a set time things aren’t any better. Sitting somewhere, usually behind a computer, is not going to help your cause health and wellbeing-wise, especially if coupled with the sort of cake culture that dominates the modern work-place. With social media telling us that cakes mean caring we can’t really resist the temptation.
It is not that employers don’t care. Gym membership and other health perks are widespread amongst British business but are notoriously under-used, with only about 18% of membership holders actually using the gym on a regular basis. These initiatives also fail to take into account the broader context of people’s lives that impact upon their wellbeing. As we all know, having something available does not equal it being wanted or used. What is needed is a complete change in culture.
I believe it is time for organisations to make time for employees to use part of their working day to be undertake activities that make them fitter, happier and more productive. This would require a real shift from the current focus on time spent at your desk being the main measure of employment to actual outputs or outcomes. Work Play Fit is leading the way in enabling organisation to do this.
I am really excited by the buzz about workplace activity and invite you to get in touch is you think this would work for your organisation. Let’s get moving!