Five ways to promote healthy living at work


More and more people are joining gyms, going for jogs and getting active. But more and more people are leading sedentary working lives, sitting at a desk unmoving for eight hours a day.

Woman putting on running shoes

With nearly 27 million working days lost per year in the UK due to work-related ill health, it’s clear that you should be ensuring that your people are looked after. When employees are healthy, productivity increases, absence falls and morale improves.

 Here, then, are five easy ways to encourage healthier living among your employees—at work and beyond.

Monitor working hours
The more hours you put in at work, the more likely you are to develop cardiovascular disease. This isn’t a pleasant fact, but the science backs it up. The same goes for haemorrhagic strokes and high stress.

Some people want to work hard, and put in a lot more hours. And that can be a good thing. But if it’s affecting their health negatively, you should step in. Let them know you appreciate their efforts, but a break will do them a world of good.

Encourage more exercise
Office workers apparently spend between four and nine hours a day seated at their desks. That’s a long time by anyone’s measure.

Human physiology is designed to stand upright. When you sit for long periods you interfere with your natural support, you weaken your muscles and you increase your chances of serious cardiovascular issues.

Activity is a great way to counter this. Set up a running club, offer gym discounts (or even onsite facilities, if you have the space). Displaying posters encouraging people to go for a run—or even a short walk—on their lunch hour is a cheap way to get people moving, and it may even stop someone having a heart attack…

Improve mental health
Ok, it’s not as easy as just saying ‘let’s improve mental health,’ but making sure your people are aware of their mental health, and know they have your support, is important.

Treat mental health with the same urgency you would a physical ailment. Look out for people who might be struggling, and gently let them know that you’re aware, you understand, and you can help. Start with your own health—if you’re pushing yourself so hard that you’re burdened with stress, you won’t be able to lead by example. Practice mindfulness, share experiences and train your managers to do the same.

Encourage healthier eating
This one might seem obvious—but diet affects a lot more than weight. Good food choices can reduce absences, increase productivity and foster a much more pleasant environment.

Provide some healthy snacks. Fruit and nuts are always welcome—maybe a little less welcome than a box of doughnuts, but the former has the advantage of not causing a big sugar crash.

Hydration is another big issue—your staff probably aren’t drinking enough water. Tea and coffee are great, but a lot of people love to pour sugar into them. It’s the same with juices and smoothies, which have a shocking amount of sugar (and lack the dietary fibre that counters this when you eat whole fruit). A glass of water is much kinder on the body.

Make changes to culture
Start a new wellbeing strategy.

Educate your employees on the benefits of all the above. Newsletters, posters, meetings—use all the tools at your disposal to show people that there are better and easier ways to live well. Encourage the sharing of ideas and personal goals with leadership by example—share your own stories, issues and ideas.

Extend your reach into the wider world. Contact other organisations to share wellbeing ideas, form networks and maybe encourage friendly competition—why not organise some football games, or a charity run? 

Promoting healthy living in the workplace has nothing but positive benefits. Just a few changes can mean a far happier, more productive staff.

This article is provided by Health Assured. 


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