How can you encourage your employees to be more physically active?
Studies show that more opportunities for physical activity at work lead to healthier employees, stronger job performance, and a boost to the business bottom line via decreased healthcare costs and improved productivity. In today’s dynamic and interconnected world, the long hours spent at work both within and outside the office can mean reduced physical activity. In a study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), results showed that almost 50 percent of women and 36 percent of men in the Middle East are not active enough, while the average global prevalence of insufficient physical activity is 34 percent for women and 28 percent for men.
According to Bayt.com’s ‘Health and Lifestyle in the Middle East and North Africa’ poll, 96 percent of respondents believe it’s the employers’ responsibility to care about their employees’ health and wellness. Also, over 87 percent claimed they’d be more likely to exercise if their company offered a gym subscription. However, only 30 percent said their employers provide fitness facilities or benefits to encourage a healthy lifestyle.
Organization-level commitment as a goal: To motivate employees to put their health first, the best place to start is within the company culture. According to health experts, a company’s commitment to employee health as a corporate goal is one of the most influential and cost-effective ways to bring about change. Adopting a formal workplace well-being policy integrates healthy lifestyle into the corporate mission and sets an expectation for management support. Implementing a new well-being policy is challenging work but support from the leadership can make it happen.
A smart business move: Employees spend a substantial amount of time at work. Businesses have already made a significant investment in each worker in terms of hiring, training, compensation and benefit packages. Promoting a culture of physical activity helps protect that investment and maximize the returns in cost savings, cost avoidance, productivity and human capital. Here are some proven ways:
• In-office fitness sessions, such as desk yoga, once or twice a week allow colleagues to socialize and get to know one another better while releasing energy.
• Corporate gym memberships in partnership with local leisure centers that offer discounts go a long way in motivating employees to incorporate fitness into their lifestyle.
• Lunchtime walking or jogging clubs provide colleagues with the chance to get together and get active.
• Walk-and-talk or standing meetings present a healthy alternative to sitting in a boardroom.
 WHO 2014: http://www.hsc.edu.kw/empan/Documents/Promoting%20Phys%20Activity%20in%20En.pdf Accessed on November 20, 2018 ACE Fitness 2010: https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/6727/fostering-a-workplace-culture-of-physical-activity Accessed on November 20, 2018