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Does a fit workforce = a happy workplace?

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Jamie Mackenzie

Director of Marketing , Sodexo Engage

Supporting the health of your employees isn’t just great for their wellbeing; it’s also great for business, too. Here’s why a fit workforce could be your biggest asset in 2020.

The Health & Safety Executive[1] recorded that in 2018/19, nearly 30 million days of work were lost in the UK due to employees suffering from general ill-health and workplace injuries, while there were also 1.4 million people cited as suffering from workplace-related stress.

These facts also coincided with UK productivity flat-lining[2] and only marginal growth towards the end of the year.

There are, of course, going to be other contributing factors to the UK’s low productivity, but it’s clear that the health of the workforce does have an instrumental part to play.

If your employees are physically or mentally unfit, they simply won’t be up to the task of driving productivity, growth or success. This is where encouraging positive physical fitness can lead to more positive outcomes and a happier, more productive workforce.

Now, it’s important to mention that simply going outside for a run is not going to solve the deeper issues – especially if they stem from being constantly stressed out. But, physical exercise comes with some additional benefits which can not only help support a healthy body, but also encourage more positive personality aspects, too.

Studies have shown that regular exercise is great at combatting memory loss and maintaining the brain’s general health and problem-solving skills.

Exercise can make you feel happy

When you go out for a run, go for a swim or engage in any prolonged physical activity, the brain releases endorphins; a group of hormones that help produce positive feelings and also help manage pain.

These positive side-effects to physical exercise can be really important when it comes to a healthy lifestyle and of course, a positive working environment.

When something as simple as going for a brisk walk can help stimulate and support positive mental wellbeing, actively encouraging staff to get up and get moving throughout the day is a no-brainer.

It can help with weight loss and weight management

Regular exercise has been shown to increase your metabolic rate, which in turn will burn more calories and help you lose weight.

Once you start combining regular exercise with healthy long-term diets and lifestyle changes, the effects on both your body and general health can be both quick and much more than skin deep, too.

If your staff are on a health kick and looking to burn off some excess calories after Christmas, giving them access to physical wellbeing benefits such as gym memberships, a cycle to work scheme, or even just encouraging physical activities during the day might just be what they’re looking for to really make a difference.

Exercise can help with your brain’s health

Studies have shown that regular exercise is great at combatting memory loss and maintaining the brain’s general health and problem-solving skills – especially with older people. Specifically, it was found that regular aerobic exercise (the kind that gets your heart and sweat glands pumping), appeared to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning.

If you have a workforce that deals with lots of figures, data or problem solving, regular breaks and regular physical activities may just help them to work smarter and not necessarily harder.

Regular exercise helps with sleep and relaxation

Lastly, a workforce that gets a good night’s sleep will often wake up feeling refreshed, energised and ready for the day ahead. And, while there are also many other factors in getting a good night’s rest, highlighting the benefits of physical activities is just one way an organisation can encourage their workforce to become more active.

So, can a fit workforce = a happy, more productive workplace?

When it comes to having a positive and successful company culture, the wellbeing of the workforce – both physically and mentally – needs to be a top priority for every business.

With the benefits of physical fitness offering a wealth of positive wellbeing side effects, it’s in every business’ interest to look out for the physical fitness of their employees and encourage them to live healthy and active lifestyles.

[1] http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/index.htm?utm_source=hse.gov.uk&utm_medium=refferals&utm_campaign=annualstats&utm_term=statistics&utm_content=home-page-hero | [2] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44735417

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