More than half the adult population in the UK is overweight, £20 billion of costs have been linked to inactivity and it's widely acknowledged that the 131 million working days lost to sickness absence in 2013 would have been significantly lower if our working lives weren't so sedentary.
The national workplace health programme, Workplace Challenge is launching its new campaign on January 5 'My Team 2015'. Workplace Challenge is on a mission to motivate even the most exercise-phobic workers by encouraging employees to join up with their colleagues and take a team approach to getting active in 2015.
Because we spend up to 60% of our waking hours at work, the workplace is a great place to introduce new, healthy habits. And the message from Workplace Challenge is that the best way to do this is to make it sociable. 'My Team 2015' will run throughout the year but will kick off with an eight-week long challenge running between 5th January and 1st March 2015. Employees across England are invited to join together with colleagues to win points for their workplace by taking part in sports and other physical pursuits during this period and logging them using Workplace Challenge's online activity logging tool.
Last month a report was released by the Department of Health introducing radical plans to improve health outcomes through digital technology and innovation. Tools like Workplace Challenge combine cutting edge technology with experienced sport and physical activity delivery to execute a successful programme designed to introduce and encourage physical activity amongst workplaces.
To encourage this more interactive approach to fitness, Workplace Challenge is making it even easier to log and share activity data (a new iPhone app is being launched in January 2015), colleagues can congratulate each other on their successes and compete with people at a similar activity level via bespoke leaderboards. In addition to clocking up points and revelling in the competitive team spirit, active loggers will also have access to the new social functionalities such as a 'refer a friend' and will be encouraged to share their team goals (and nominations) via social media using #MyTeam2015.
The incentive for taking part in 'My Team 2015' however, is more than achieving a top slot on a leaderboard. Physically active employees are less likely to suffer from major health problems, less likely to take sickness leave, and less likely to have an accident at work. The message about the perils of a sedentary work lifestyle may be spreading (research suggests 87 per cent of employees agree they would be more productive if they could take time out in their working day and eat healthily) but the tougher challenge of getting stressed out workers to act on their good intentions remains.
In 2014, Workplace Challenge, the national workplace health programme set up by the County Sports Partnership Network and funded by Sport England, made encouraging steps forward in tackling the unhealthy perception that work and exercise are incompatible. More than 18,095 individuals and 3,735 workplaces were inspired to get active during 2014 by logging onto Workplace Challenge's online activity logging tool and taking part in various challenges. With 'My Team 2015' Workplace Challenge will continue to increase this level of interest and involvement in physical activity further by providing tools and support that will help workplaces add an element of camaraderie and positive peer pressure to their health initiatives.
The 2015 campaign will once again be driven by the support of the County Sports Partnership Network, with funding from Sport England and backing from British Heart Foundation's Health at Work programme.
Lee Mason from the County Sports Partnership Network (CSP Network) said:
"Whereas it's surprisingly easy to let ourselves off the hook when we dodge an exercise session, it feels more awkward to let down a colleague. The aim of 'My Team 2015' is to encourage workers to build their own support network by initiating a team approach to exercise at work. When combined with better education on the risks associated with the rising inactivity epidemic, this makes a compelling case for getting active.
The CSP Network will be fully behind Workplace Challenge again in 2015, arranging local challenges, programmes and competitions that support the 'My Team 2015' with the aim to raise awareness of the impact of the inactivity and enable participants to realise the full benefits of using Workplace Challenge's online tools."
Lisa Purcell, Project Manager for the British Heart Foundation's Health at Work Programme said:
"Not everyone is naturally sporty or has the motivation to work themselves into a sweat several times a week in a gym. However, everyone could benefit from being more active – they probably just don't realise how much.
At BHF Health at Work we're proud to be working alongside Workplace Challenge again in 2015 to increase awareness of the health risks associated with rising obesity levels. But by getting involved in initiatives like 'My Team 2015' workplaces have the opportunity to improve the health of both their employees and their organisation."
Subscribe to our e-newsletter and get Active Cumbria updates straight to your inbox.
Follow us on Twitter to find out about sports opportunities in real time @ActiveCumbria