Active at Work

Standing Desk

Research shows that teams who are active at work are not only happier and healthier, but also more productive and efficient. Physical activity can actually increase your focus and concentration by releasing hormones that stimulate the growth of brain cells and neural connections, as well as increasing the size of the hippocampus area of the brain which is responsible for memory and cognitive function.

Not only that – active employees are more able to cope with stress than their less active colleagues, and are less likely to suffer from major health problems, take sickness leave or to have an accident at work. Physical activity can help make you feel more positive by releasing feel-good hormones and reduces our risk of depression. Employees who incorporate physical activity into their working day have reported greater enjoyment of their work and improved co-operation and rapport with colleagues, which in turn helps managers to retain quality staff in their teams.

So, creating an active work environment can transform productivity, wellbeing and morale.

How active do we need to be?

Guidance from the UK Chief Medical Office recommends that adults should aim to be active every day, adding up to 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 mins of vigorous intensity activity per week. But every minute of activity counts - you don't have to take part in in large chunks of exercise to get the health benefits. Some is good, more is better - so start slowly and build up gradually.

However, it is important to remember that it is also possible to meet these guidelines, while also being at risk of long-term health conditions as a result of sitting for long periods, which is thought to slow the metabolism, affecting the body's ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat.

A growing problem as a result of modern day work environments is being sedentary at a desk for the majority of the day. Sitting for more than four hours a day can increase our risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, back pain and muscle degeneration, and sitting for at least eight hours a day could increase the risk of premature death by up to 60%. So it is more important than ever before, to ensure that people make time to consider how they can purposefully incorporate activity into their working day.

Experts advise breaking up long periods of sitting time with 1 to 2 minutes of activity, ideally every 30mins. The HSE suggest at least 5 minutes in every hour should be spent away from a computer screen, but it's also important to make sure you change posture regularly, and refocus eyes. Short, frequent breaks are better than longer, less frequent breaks, so a 5-10 minute break after 50-60 minutes is better than a 20 minute break every 3 hours.

Katie Davies

Health and Physical Activity Officer

For any enquiries relating to being active at work, please contact Katie.

07514 622170
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