A new report shows that improving the health and physical fitness of staff could save British employers £6.6 billion a year.

Or, to put it another way, ill-health and poor fitness is costing UK business £6.6 billion each year. 

The importance of corporate fitness has been more widely accepted in recent years but there is still and very long way to go. There have been a few well-documented things costing British business over the last three years, much of it UK companies have been powerless to affect. However the physical health and fitness of management and employees IS something that can be improved considerably and relatively quickly.

The report – The Economics of Exercise; Measuring the Business Benefits of Being Physically Fit – was put together by research group PJM Economics on behalf of AXA PPP Healthcare.

Just doing the basics will make a massive difference

The equation is simple; if employees meet the CMO guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week, the boost to the British economy would be that staggering £6.6 billion figure.

A huge amount of material was drawn from including: government studies, official statistics, academic literature and evidence from private organisations.

Eugene Farrell, Mental Health Lead at AXA PPP Healthcare, commented; “One in three Brits say they are too tired after work to exercise and a further one in five says their job prevents them from regularly exercising… It does reinforce that employers are in a unique position to positively influence change that supports and enables employees to be more active before, during and after the working day”.

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Wellbeing Director at restaurant chain Leon, Julian Hitch, pointed out various ways in which a more active workforce benefits, including: stress management, productivity, resilience and mental health. All of which have a huge impact on the workplace.

Kate Staples was a GB pole vaulter and millions remember her as ‘Zodiac’ from TV’s Gladiators. She has recently been working with Mercedes alongside Olympic legend Daley Thompson. “Corporate fitness is crucial to business success. It is not a luxury or a perk, it is central to the optimum performance of a business. The fact there is not immediate payback, it is not tangible and the effects are accumulated over time means that the business community has not always embraced it. But things are changing and awareness is increasing which can only be good for individual companies and the nation’s general business health”.

A generational shift

Multiple fitness champion and renowned health expert Joey Bull has worked with individual corporate executives and teams; she added, “It doesn’t mean building a gym at work, it’s about making great trainers available to staff to come in and take groups, to be available for online support, advice, motivation and education. Have arrangements with local gyms, run in-house incentives and rewards. There’s plenty that can be done to make a big difference.

“There is probably a generational thing. The ‘old guard’ of management and executives perhaps did not entertain this as part of business culture. A cigar and a glass of whiskey was perhaps a more likely activity! But as time has moved on and younger people are now at the helm of the very biggest corporations – they are more familiar with a ‘gym lifestyle’ and matters of holistic wellbeing. They will be helping to change the culture”.

The report’s author Dr. Paul Metcalfe stated; “All evidence points to there being an important role for employers to promote the wellbeing of the large working population, with benefits to be reaped at a business output level”.

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