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Why won’t British workers exercise with their colleagues?

The majority of employers believe productivity is improved by exercise

Some concerning results have been revealed by a recent AXA PPP Healthcare study regarding the lack of exercise undertaken by UK employees and how this could be affecting their work.

Exercising with colleagues is impacted by embarrassment and low self-esteem, with many employees feeling that exercise is not enabled or supported by their employer.

Perhaps a more flexible and supportive approach from employers could directly impact productivity and even make a business more attractive to work for.

Of those polled, 45% revealed that they do not manage the minimum 30 minutes of exercise five times in a week as recommended by the NHS; alarmingly, 27% do not exercise at all during their working week.

Sometimes the best intentions can be thwarted by the demands of working life. 62% of those aiming to exercise during their lunch hour said they may have to cancel these plans because of their work.

Of those who are active after work, a huge 79% said they would prefer to exercise before their working day begins but simply cannot find the time.

Whilst 61% of those questioned felt that their employer does not support an active lifestyle, it is not as simple as enabling work-based exercise. Both low self-esteem (22%) and embarrassment at fitness levels (25%) can prevent British workers exercising with colleagues.

Both low self-esteem (22%) and embarrassment at fitness levels (25%) can prevent British workers exercising with colleagues.

11% of staff are put off by having to wear workout clothes in front of their colleagues, which is exacerbated by 26% of managers perceiving gym clothes worn at work as unprofessional.

Despite all this, the majority (78%) of employers believe productivity is improved by exercise. Regular workouts are perceived to improve employees’ abilities to handle stress by 82% of bosses.

This divide between employers recognising the benefits of exercise and employees feeling unsupported in trying to achieve an active lifestyle needs to be addressed, according to AXA PPP Healthcare director Chris Horlick.

He believes an active workforce will benefit employers by increasing productivity and the ability to handle stress, and could lead to real profit both immediately and in the longer term.This is not simply a matter of meeting minimum requirements for s

This is not simply a matter of meeting minimum requirements for statutory duty of care but a wider culture shift to create work environments in which staff feel happy, valued, productive and fit.

There are many ways employers can support an active lifestyle, from enabling an active commute (such as having showers and bike racks at the office) to allowing more flexibility in working hours.

Of the employees interviewed for this research, three-quarters of those who regularly exercise before work believes it improves their concentration and means they are more effective in their role. This benefits all involved and is surely a reason to enable staff to get active.

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