A think tank has examined options to help people increase their levels of physical activity in a new report, concluding that there is a clear business case for workplace interventions to support and maintain exercise and activity among employees.

The report, by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) entitled Moving Matters, argues it makes sense for organisations to encourage employees to keep active. The links between activity and health and wellbeing means that workplaces which support staff to stay active are likely to be rewarded by greater productivity and lower absence rates.

Long periods of sitting still can lead to poorer health, from cardiovascular disease to diabetes and musculoskeletal problems, yet people may feel restricted to certain postures as they complete tasks.

In this way, the report notes, there is a clear business case for workplace interventions to support and maintain exercise and activity among employees.

Many employers, the report says, also recognise that they have an obligation to the health and wellbeing of their workforce.

Equally, investing in the health of employees can bring other business benefits such as increased loyalty and better staff retention.

The report also highlights research which shows that while workplaces may not be suitable for vigorous physical activity, it may be relatively straightforward to replace sedentary behaviours such as sitting with standing or light activity.

For example, many people could benefit if buildings were designed to encourage movement, if commuters were encouraged to stand on public transport, and standing desks were available in offices.

These changes, it’s argued, would make few demands on people and could shift activity patterns from being sedentary to including significant amounts of standing or light activity.

Last reviewed 23 July 2019