The importance of being active

The importance of being active

Physical inactivity can lead to many health issues and costs the NHS over £1 billion each year. There are things we can all do to improve our activity levels.

People in the UK are living less active lifestyles than previous generations and are now 20% less active than in the 1960s.

Not only is physical inactivity a risk to health and responsible for one in six UK deaths, it is also estimated to cost the UK £7.4 billion every year.

Effects of physical inactivity on UK workforce
The UK’s workforce, as with most other countries, is much less active than in previous generations. More people are now working in jobs conducted in an office or from home, with 80% of desk workers spending between four and nine hours sitting at their workstation every day.

Not only can this lead to weight gain and other associated health risks, it can lower productivity and motivation. Physical activity can improve workers’ overall health and wellbeing and help to reduce the likelihood or presenteeism and long-term absences.

Research is also now emerging that regular exercise can reduce the chance of dying from infectious diseases such as COVID-19 by more than a third and makes people 31% less likely to catch the virus.

Benefits of physical activity
Regular physical activity has been proven to improve overall wellbeing as it can help to:

  • control blood pressure and keep it within healthy levels
  • prevent some cancers
  • control your blood glucose levels, reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes
  • increase the number of calories you burn to help maintain a healthy weight
  • boost your overall mood and in many cases reduce feelings of depression.

How to keep active
The modern world is one of convenience, aided by technological advancements which have contributed to less active lifestyles. More people use cars to travel on short journeys, have a range of devices to watch online content, and the UK workforce comprises less manual work and more time spent in front of a laptop or PC.

The coronavirus pandemic has contributed to some people’s inactivity as they followed the government’s guidance to stay at home. However, as the country begins to lift restrictions and gyms are re-opening, there are many things we can all to in everyday life to keep active.

  • Walk instead of drive: can the trip to the local shop be done on foot rather than by car? Small everyday changes like this can increase your activity and become part of your lifestyle.
  • Move around more at work: if it is safe and practical to do so, move away from your workstation regularly and perform another task, like making a drink. It is also a good idea to take regular breaks from your screen to maintain good eyesight and prevent developing musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Lunchtime walk: whether you are working from home or at an office or factory, a walk during your lunch break is a great way to break up the day and fit in exercise.
  • Join a gym: gyms are back open and have a variety of membership schemes. Local councils may subsidise your membership depending on individual circumstances.
  • Home workouts: if you are spending much more time at home and feel safest exercising indoors, there are a variety of exercises and routines you can do from the comfort of your own home.
  • Ride a bike: the West Midlands bike hire scheme means you don’t need to own a bike to ride one and can exercise while exploring the local area.

We can provide Employee Wellbeing sessions for your team, conducting general medical assessments and offering advice to team members to help improve their overall health.

If you would like support and advice regarding the health of your team, get in touch with us.

Sources: (2021); Glasgow Caledonian University (2021); British Heart Foundation (2020); HR Magazine (2018); Personnel Today (2019)