Practices should encourage staff to take physically active lunch breaks and offer subsidised gym memberships, according to official guidance published today.
Doctors and practices should do all they can to encourage employment practices that encourage health, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. This could include physical activity programmes for the workplace.
NICE wants all employers to adopt these practices but says that providers of health care must set an example while practitioners must seek to encourage the adoption of healthy workplaces. Even lunchtime yoga sessions would be enough to improve health and activity levels, NICE says.
Deputy chief executive Professor Gillian Leng said: “If the United Kingdom’s 5.7 million small and medium sized businesses encouraged their workforce to be more active, they are more likely to reap the benefits of having engaged employees who are more productive and are less likely to take time off sick.
“Simple things like providing secure bicycle storage, showers and changing facilities can go a long way to enabling people to cycle to work or to meetings.
“As a society we are facing an obesity crisis caused in part by people not exercising enough.”
Royal College of GPs chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said the college is about to launch its own proposals for tackling “sedentary behaviour.”
She said: “This new quality standard from NICE offers useful advice for professionals and commissioners across society – and for employers, it includes pragmatic suggestions that can be tailored to workplaces of different sizes and with varying resources available. We would urge employers to seek to swiftly implement the recommendations in some capacity as ultimately, a healthy workforce will be a more productive, and hopefully happier one.”