With the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK warning that the UK obesity crisis, if left to continue, will lead to more than 350,000 new, potentially avoidable cases of cancer by 2030, The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has waded in to the obesity debate. NICE have recommended that UK employers encourage staff and desk workers to take up exercise during lunch breaks.
According to NICE, this should include exercise judged to be beneficial to the heart and to aid weight loss, such as yoga and spinning. The healthcare body has also recommended that UK bosses and employers encourage staff to undertake standing meetings, rather than traditional ‘sit down’ meetings.
Additional recommendations from NICE to help slow down the crisis include employers subsidising gym memberships and providing additional advice on weight loss and keeping healthy for their employees.
The guidance from NICE has been provided to both help reduce the amount of obesity amongst the UK population and also to encourage the working population to exercise more and ‘live better’ to help reduce stress and anxiety, a growing problem in the UK.
In 2017, the equivalent of 131 million working days were lost due to sickness, with around 13 million of those days due to mental health ailments and illnesses. This has of course, had a profound impact on UK business and worker productivity, with the lost days rarely, if ever recouped by UK businesses.
Working out and exercising as part of one’s working routine is hugely beneficial for general health, including mental health, even in small doses, such as exercising for 30 minutes during lunchtime (source: Presscription Juices London).
Some professions’ workers are more prone to falling into the trap of overweightness and obesity, usually when workers are desk bound. However, part of the problem identified by NICE in their report is that most of us are working significantly longer hours, finding less and less time to get out of the office to exercise, relax and unwind. This is impacting both the physical and the mental health of much of the UK working population.
Employers are encouraged to gently persuade and nudge workers towards healthy habits by offering additional features to workplaces such as bicycle racks, showers (for those looking to exercise during or immediately before or after work) and changing facilities wherever possible. A challenge with implementing and introducing these additions and facilities is of course the expense inevitably incurred by businesses who do so, as well as the increase in bicycle thefts in larger UK cities, discouraging many people from purchasing bicycles (source: Secure Site UK).
Understandably, certain jobs and professions are more likely to be able to encourage workers to undertake more exercise and positive activities for their bodies and minds. For example, it would appear to be easier for those working in bigger cities to take time out of their lunch break to go spinning, whereas for those working in more rural areas, facilities are likely to be limited.