15 May 2006

Active WorkplaceBusiness breakfasts, power lunches and long hours spent lifting little more than a telephone handset are threatening to thwart the nation’s quest to achieve that all-important healthier lifestyle.

Indeed, hours spent shackled to the grindstone has rapidly seen office executive waistlines expand at the rate of the businesses themselves and that sharp-suited, go-getting image is set to become the ideal rather than the reality.

Figures this week released by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) revealed that the average worker in Wales took 8.4 sick days last year, compared to just 4.7 in Northern Ireland.

The cost of staff absence to the UK economy rose to over £13bn in 2005 - and 66 million days were lost across the public services at a cost of £3.4bn to the taxpayer.

The solution, however, may not have to be costly. Physical activity boost immunity, improves health and wellbeing, reduces stress and lifts morale.

Because most adults spend half their waking hours bound to the desk, finding ways to include physical activity during the workday is fast becoming the most practical way for many adults to become more active and achieve the target of 30 minutes of exercise, five times per week.

And encouraging physical activity doesn't have to be complicated, expensive or time consuming. Forget dipping into the profit margins and forking out for hefty gym subsidies because a little creativity can go a long way!

Workplaces can do a variety of things to foster a working environment that incorporates regular physical activity throughout the year. In support of National Healthy Living Week, the Sports Council for Wales is setting its sights on converting the desk-bound masses into active enthusiasts to prove that getting healthy and physically active is far from impossible - even for the busiest of bees.

For the office aficionado frantically juggling corporate entertaining between appointments, finding the time and inclination to develop a healthy lifestyle can be an uphill struggle.

However, just 30 minutes of regular, moderate intensity activity accumulated over a day is enough to help to prevent serious illness such as coronary heart disease and stroke and can help produce a healthier, happier and more productive workforce!