An active workplace will increase business success

The benefits of being physically active have been drilled into us for as long as I can remember. From improving brain health, reducing the risk of disease and keeping us mentally healthy, keeping physically active is one of the most vital things we can do for our health. What I’ve never stopped to consider is the importance of physical health for business success. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense.

I recently attended DTX UCX where Sammi Adhami, Founder and COO of Fiit discussed navigating the COVID pandemic as a startup, and presented data for how happier, healthier employees lead to better business outcomes. Fiit is a fitness app delivering motivating fitness classes straight to your device, whenever you want. Having seen first-hand the impact of exercise on mental and physical health, it is striving towards a world where mental and physical wellbeing is embedded into company culture.

What I learnt first and foremost from Sammi’s talk is that maintaining good physical and mental health is essential to personal and business success.

On average, 64.5% of men and 54% of women meet the recommended physical activity levels. The Department of Health recommends that adults aim to be active daily and complete 2.5 hours of moderate intensity activity each week. Something needs to change, and workplaces can help.

Now let’s get to some data. Employees who exercised regularly reported a 72% increase in workload completed and management load, demonstrating that physical activity is the ultimate productivity hack. There was also a 30% reduction in mental health issues. Now for the numbers. Companies who have happy, engaged employees are on average 21% more profitable.

Despite everything pointing in favour of becoming more physically active, we’re 20% less active today than in the 1960s. Alarmingly, this is predicted to reach 35% by 2030.

More positively, public healthcare data shows that 1 in 4 of those informed about the benefits of being physically active will make a change. This demonstrates the huge importance in educating those around us, including our teams at work. Physical activity must become embedded into our cultures and consistency is vital. To do this, workplaces should incorporate flexible working.

Aside from these benefits, the associated cognitive and behavioural benefits speak for themselves.

Being physically active will increase mood, concentration, mental stamina, focus and creativity as well as energy, stamina, sleep, posture and reduce pain.

You might ask, how can I get involved? It begins with education. Now you’ve educated yourself after reading this article, go ahead and share what you’ve learnt with those at your workplace. Staff should be educated on the benefits of activity to create more autonomy. You can become a leader: “When I talk about leadership, we’re all leaders. One of our core values at Fiit is we’re all leaders, we have to lead by example,” said Sammi.

Then, you must lead by example. It could be as simple as introducing walking meetings, booking exercise into your diary the same as you would a meeting, introducing fitness clubs during work hours or hosting physically active away days as team building. You can create mini challenges, for example seeing who can walk the most steps in a month. How about a lunch time walk? A 10-minute walk equates to 1,000 steps. Throwing in a few of these to break up your day would get you way closer to the recommended daily step goal. The Fiit office has gone as far as to introduce a stretching mat area in the middle of the office for employees to use at their leisure.

What is vital, is that it becomes embedded into the company culture, and employees are encouraged to partake in such activities. Adding the above into yours and your employee’s life will be easier if the workplace culture aligns, and if choosing to be physically active can slot into people’s lifestyles. Afterall, its proven people are more likely to remain physically active if they make time for exercise as part of their daily routine. Again, this demonstrates the importance of a flexible working culture.  

If you take one thing away from this, it should be that the stats are sobering but can be combatted by making even small changes. All of these will lead to physical activity becoming embedded in personal and professional culture.