Research84% of UK employees fail to meet NHS activity guidelines – says new wellbeing report

The latest national Wellbeing Index Report reveals 67% of employees believe it’s an employer’s responsibility to support their physical wellbeing.
Content Team5 years ago9 min

According to a new data in the third Wellbeing Index Report from Westfield Health, a staggering 84 per cent of British people are failing to achieve the amount of physical activity recommended by the NHS and workers are calling out for support from their employers.

  • 84% of Brits fail to meet physical activity guidelines, citing time, energy and low mood as the main barriers
  • 67% believe it’s an employer’s responsibility to support their physical wellbeing and fitness
  • 74% of HR professionals agree that physical activity reduces absenteeism

The latest quarterly analysis of the nation’s wellbeing highlights the negative impact of desk jobs: over a quarter (26%) spend a dangerous nine hours or more sat down; 65 per cent say they quite or very often sit continuously for one hour or more, clocking up an average of seven hours and two minutes every day. 

The health risks of our sedentary lifestyles are well recognised. Prolonged inactivity is responsible for one in six UK deaths¹ and studies have found that even when we exercise daily, we’re still at risk of developing diseases such as type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and cancer if we sit down for more than four hours a day².

Although the Wellbeing Index showed that over 60 per cent of Brits are aware of these risks of a sedentary lifestyle, just 12 per cent say they are proactively trying to reduce the amount of time spent sitting down.

Reasons for inactivity 

Lack of time (32%), low energy levels (31%) and low mood (25%) were found to be the biggest barriers to moving more. When asked about basic fitness facilities at work, such as changing rooms and bike storage, almost half (47%) of employees don’t currently have access to any form of physical activity provision at work.

The study also revealed that people expect more from their employer: 67 per cent believe it’s an employer’s responsibility to support their physical wellbeing and fitness, yet around one in five say the support they’re currently getting is below average or very poor. 

Impacts on productivity 

Dave Capper, CEO of corporate health and wellbeing provider Westfield Health, believes employers have both the opportunity and responsibility to make workplaces more active.

“When it comes to physical wellbeing, the Wellbeing Index shows it’s not really a lack of awareness that’s the problem – people know the risks of a sedentary lifestyle – it’s a lack of responsibility. 

“As individuals, only 12% of us are trying to reduce our sedentary time; as employers, we have to recognise just how much the structure of the work day and the office environment contribute to this escalating national health issue. To remain competitive at both a national and business level, we have to become more productive. That can only happen when you take good care of your team and create an environment where they can perform at their best.” 

The report showed that HR professionals do recognise the value of physical wellbeing: almost three quarters (74%) agree that physical activity reduces absenteeism by reducing the number of sick days being taken, yet 44 per cent admit their company is not considering investing more in this area. 

Anthony Slater, Senior Vice President of human performance company EXOS commented, “We have found that when employees experience the benefits of improved movement quality it opens up a willingness to explore and engage more deeply in workplace-related programmes that can further improve behaviours related to mindset, nutrition and recovery, driving further benefit to the employee and organisation.”

To read the full Wellbeing Index Report, click here. 

To find more wellbeing content, click here





Content Team

Work in Mind is a content platform designed to give a voice to thinkers, businesses, journalists and regulatory bodies in the field of healthy buildings.

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