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How to encourage healthy lifestyles for deskbound employees

By Jason Downes, Managing Director, PowWowNow

Recent research has shown that almost half of the UK’s working population (45 per cent) spend less than ten minutes walking around at work every day. To some, this won’t come as a surprise – the average workday lasts anywhere between six and nine hours, and for the vast majority of us the most likely position we spend this time in is a seated one. Add that many commute to work, and it will be impossible to not sit for extended periods every day.

However, as many of us already know, physical inactivity can lead to a variety of health conditions and should be avoided where possible. It increases the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and some forms of cancer. Being seated at a desk looking at a computer all day also increases the odds of neck or back pain.


Undoubtedly, the health of your workers will impact your businesses’ bottom line. By helping employees be healthy, the chances of them needing time off are reduced. We also tend to work best when we’re feeling at our best, so a healthy worker will be more productive. Here are five ways that business leaders can do their all to encourage healthy lifestyles.

Adjust the layout of your office space

If your employees are mostly desk-bound across the day, the most important thing to do is to get them to move around. While some organisations have implemented aerobics or yoga sessions into their workdays, don’t fret if you don’t have the resources to do this!

Smaller, simpler changes can go a long way into encouraging your workers to get up. For example, by changing the layout of your office to cluster the bins and printers into designated areas, you can nudge your employees into walking around. You can also suggest that your workforce go and speak to their colleagues in person rather than emailing. Not only will then help them to keep healthier, it will help create a happier and more connected workforce.

Have facilities to support a healthy lifestyle

A lot of the damage associated with being desk-bound can be undone with physical activity. However, for many workers, it can be difficult to fit structured activity in around their work responsibilities. For these people, jogging or cycling to work may prove most appropriate, as they’ll still be able to keep healthy while not having to find extra time outside of work to do so.

But, even if they’d like to, they could be prevented by a lack of appropriate amenities. Employees are far more likely to exercise if the correct conveniences are available. So, by making sure that your office has appropriate changing facilities, lockers and showers, you can encourage your workers to make healthier choices in their lifestyles. If you’d like to go the extra mile, why not consider implementing a cycle-to-work scheme? Not only will this help your workers remain healthy, it will also engender goodwill!


Consider smarter working policies

The life of a modern worker can be hectic. Between working, commuting and our personal commitments, it can be incredibly difficult to find time to keep yourself fit and healthy. Allowing your employees to work smarter – be that through working remotely or introducing flexibility into their hours – can help them to lead healthier lifestyles.

No longer having to spend time on an arduous commute, and feeling more energised as a result, workers will be able to devote more time to improving their health, letting them work more effectively.

Help your workers to eat well

When we’re busy and stressed, it becomes more and more difficult to eat well, as an unhealthy snack or fast food meal is often the quickest and most simple choice.

Employers can play a big role in making sure that workers are able to choose healthier options for their lunch. If your office has vending machines, check the inventory to see whether it is dominated by unhealthy foods. If so, why not consider swapping these for healthier options. If you have a canteen do the same and consider subsidising foods that are good for you.

Corporate partnerships

One of the simplest ways to get your employees to exercise is to offer a corporate membership with a local facility. As your workers will be saving on membership costs, there is an extra incentive for them to exercise regularly.

Contact the facility of your choice, letting them know that you’d be interested in referring your workers if they provide a reduction in fees. 

As business leaders, it’s important that we look after our workers. Not only is there a moral obligation, it can also positively impact your business’s productivity. There are many options out there, so don’t be afraid to try a few different ones out to see what works for you. By doing so, you’ll soon be feeling the benefits of a healthier and more efficient workforce.