Thousands of employers across England played a part in this year's Workplace Health Week, providing inspiration and opportunities for employees to become more active at work.
The initiative, which is now in its second year, is run by Workplace Challenge in collaboration with County Sports Partnerships across England.
Despite a government target that all adults should exercise for 150 minutes each week, 40 per cent of people in England do not exercise enough – contributing to an estimated cost of £14.9 billion to businesses in lost working days. Workplace Challenge says if the average number of sick days per person, per year, can be reduced by just by one day by promoting health and wellbeing in the workplace, it could save an estimated £2.8 billion.
This was the driver behind a week-long schedule of activities, support, tips and advice for businesses, focusing on flexible working and active lunch breaks to bring physical activity into and around the working day. The highlight of week was the Midday Mile, which saw thousands of workers ditch their desks to run, walk, jog or cycle one mile all at 12noon on Thursday 26 May. Some wore fancy dress, one keen individual completed the mile on a unicycle and the hashtag #MiddayMile was even trending on Twitter!
More than 49,000 individuals have now signed up to Workplace Challenge, which runs Workplace Health Week, with more than 1,000 people signing up since the campaign launched. Workplace Challenge is delivered by the CSP Network in collaboration with County Sports Partnerships across England. Over the last month, 8,900 businesses have made a pledge to encourage physical activity in the workplace, rising from 8,000 last month.
Now organisers are urging businesses to deliver their promise and continue giving their employees the encouragement and opportunity to keep active.
Lee Mason, Chief Executive of the County Sports Partnership Network, which runs Workplace Challenge, said: "Workplace Health Week 2016 has been another big success, following on from the great strides made with the first event last year, but the hard work doesn't stop here. We need businesses to continue actively promoting physical activity in the workplace long after the week has ended, putting the health and wellbeing of their workers right at the heart of their core values.
"This would not only help to raise levels of exercise closer towards the Government target, but it will also reduce absence through sickness, improve productivity and deliver better results for businesses. It's a win-win situation."
One of the businesses to take part this year was The Aintree University NHS Foundation Trust. Employees were encouraged to take a walk through Bluebell Woods at lunchtime as part of the midday mile initiative. Two groups left from opposite ends of the Trust and meet in the Woods and chatted as they passed as part of their loop around the scenic woods.
Diane Haddock, Head of Organisational Health and Effectiveness at Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: "We recognise the importance of health and wellbeing and the encouragement of increasing physical activity within our working day and we are delighted to get involved with Workplace Health Week in its second year.
"It's understandable that employees sometimes are unable to find the time to exercise outside of work, which is why we have to look at ways of encouraging and affording individuals the opportunities, where possible to get active in and around the workplace."
Lee Mason, Chief Executive of the County Sports Partnership Network, adds: "The best way to reach 150 minutes is to do half an hour of exercise, five days a week - so it's obvious to see how an active lunch break can make a big impact on peoples' lives, especially when 40 per cent of adults do not exercise enough.
"There is so much a business can do to encourage its employees to improve their levels of physical activity, starting with paying a visit to www.workplacechallenge.org.uk, where individuals and workplaces can log all of their activity, get in touch with their local County Sports Partnership for a workplace health consultation and discover fantastic events taking place in their local area."