Why promote physical activity in the workplace?


Physical activity can improve both the physical and mental health of everyone in the workplace.

Individual health benefits include having more energy, lowering stress levels, improved posture and balance, and maintaining a healthy weight. Additionally physical activity reduces the risks of heart disease, obesity, strokes, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and depression.

Physical activity is defined as 'any body movement that requires energy expenditure'. The New Zealand guidelines from the Ministry of Health advise that adults should:

Below are some suggestions of activities that you could do in your workplace:

1.  Promote the benefits of reduced sitting time:

  • provide activity breaks during meetings lasting more than an hour
  • provide standing desks
  • encourage staff to use the stairs instead of the lift
  • encourage staff to take regular breaks from their desk

2. Provide physical activity opportunities:

  • provide information on local sports and leisure facilities, classes and clubs
  • provide corporate memberships at local fitness centres
  • provide subsidised, reduced, or low cost activity opportunities
  • establish a lunchtime activity group
  • map out walking routes within the area and promote to staff
  • promote physical activity events
  • provide flexible working hours to allow for physical activity before, during and after work

 3. Promote active transport:

  • encourage staff to walk or bike to work
  • provide safe storage racks for bicycles
  • provide showering and/or changing facilities

 4. Raise awareness of the benefits of physical activity:

  • provide educational materials and resources on physical activity
  • provide staff training on the benefits of activity and risks of inactivity
  • hold physical activity promotional events.

 For more information have a look at our physical activity resources or website links.

Ministry of Health, Eating and Activity Guidelines for Adults, 2015
World Health Organisation, Physical Activity, 2015