Almost 70% of employers believe it’s an employer’s responsibility to support physical wellbeing
Employees are being held back by a ‘lack of awareness' around the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle, the CEO of Westfield Health has warned following the latest results from its Wellbeing Index.
The wellbeing provider has revealed that a survey of 2000 UK adults and 250 HR professionals showed that 84% of Brits are failing to achieve the amount of physical activity recommended by the NHS, with more than a quarter (26%) spending nine hours or more sitting down. The index also indicated that 65% said they 'quite often or very often' sit continuously for one hour or more, clocking up an average of seven hours and two minutes every day.
The survey results are particularly concerning considering that British Medical Journal research shows that prolonged inactivity is responsible for one in six UK deaths, while six hours of sitting each day also contributes to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Adding to this, the Wellbeing Index also showed that 60% of Brits are aware of the risks of a sedentary lifestyle, only 12% said they are proactively trying to reduce the amount of time spent sitting down.
Lack of time (32%), low energy levels (31%) and low mood (25%) were cited as biggest barriers standing in the way of employees moving more.
Almost half (47%) of employees said they do not currently have access to any form of physical activity provision, such as changing rooms and bike storage.
The report also found that 67% of employees believe it's an employer's responsibility to support their physical wellbeing and fitness, with one in five saying that they're currently getting is below average or very poor.
Westfield Health CEO David Capper said: "When it comes to physical wellbeing, the Wellbeing Index shows it's not really a lack of awareness that's the problem - people know the risks of a sedentary lifestyle - it's a lack of responsibility.
"As individuals, only 12% of us are trying to reduce our sedentary time; as employers, we have to recognise just how much the structure of the work day and the office environment contribute to this escalating national health issue."
He added: We have to take action to protect our health and our businesses. To remain competitive at both a national and business level, we have to become more productive. That can only happen when you take good care of your team and create an environment where they can perform at their best."
The research also showed that HRs understand that physical activity reduces absenteeism (74%) but 44% admit their companies are not investing in this area.
Human performance company EXOS' Antony Slater said upgrading the movement quality of employees in the workplace can help people proactively address areas of pain and discomfort which adds to their quality of life.
"We have found that when employees experience the benefits of improved movement quality it opens up a willingness to explore and engage more deeply in workplace-related programmes that can further improve behaviours related to mindset, nutrition and recovery, driving further benefit to the employee and organisation," he said.
Capper added that ignoring employee wellbeing can have a knock-on effect on a company's bottom line.
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