Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson is calling on employers to drive a radical overhaul of offices to encourage physical activity around the workplace and help tackle the UK’s health woes.
In a speech at today’s (28 January) Active Working Summit in London, the ukactive chair will appeal to employers to treat provision of physical activity throughout the working day ‘with the same importance as annual and sick leave’. Urging a culture shift in office life, Grey-Thompson will suggest more employers incorporate corporate activity plans, corporate gym memberships and sit-stand desks.
Physical inactivity is estimated to cost the UK £20bn per year, with the rise of sedentary office jobs held up as a key contributor to the pandemic. The impact on employers is particularly acute, with ailments associated with prolonged inactivity – such as back, neck and muscle pain – being the largest cause of the UK’s 131 million sick-days, according to the Office for National Statistics.
“If we continue down this path of inactive working we will jeopardise the stability of our National Health Service for future generations,” Grey-Thompson will say.
“We have been sleepwalking into a sedentary lifestyle, and now the office environment needs a radical overhaul to put regular activity back into daily life.”
Research from the Expert Statement commissioned by Public Health England and Active Working CIC, found that people who work in offices spend 65-75 per cent of their time sedentary, with just over 50 per cent admitting they don’t take lunch breaks and regularly eat lunch at their desks.
Making the business case for more active workplaces, Grey-Thompson will point to the wealth of research that has found active employees are happier, healthier and more productive.
Researchers from the University of Otago found recently that a daily exercise session is
sufficient to increase task productivity throughout the day.
Meanwhile, a University of California study concluded that cities which strive to promote physical activity gain a significant economic advantage
from benefits such as lower healthcare costs and improved productivity.
Grey-Thompson will also build on policy recommendations made in ukactive’s Blueprint for an Active Britain report,
which called on the government to expand the successful “Cycle to work” scheme to a ‘Workout from work’ scheme which would include fitness trackers and gym memberships as part of an assault on inactivity in the workplace.