Fewer exercise at target level of 20 minutes a day

Fewer people are exercising at recommended levels to stay healthy, it has emerged.

Just over a quarter (26%) or the workforce exercise for about 20 minutes a day, or two and a half hours a week.

However, 15 months ago almost one in three (32%) were managing to clock up the recommended 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week.

The study from the Nutrition and Health Foundation (NHF) found that four in 10 (42%) are either totally or extremely inactive during their working day.

The results were released in advance of Ireland’s second National Workplace Wellbeing Day that takes place on Friday.

The event, to get the workplace moving, is organised by the NHF, is supported by business group, IBEC.

This week hundreds of organisations across the public and private sector will be promoting better nutrition and exercise in the workplace.

Some of the many events taking place are health checks and talks, exercise and fitness classes, nutrition talks and cookery demonstrations.

Employers are also being encouraged to arrange a “lunchtime mile” — a one-mile cycle, jog, run, or walk for employees near their workplace.

NHF manager Muireann Cullen said that, with people spending so much of their lives at work, it is the perfect place to promote better exercise and eating habits.

“And, with parents making up so much of the workforce, the workplace is an opportunity to influence the habits of more than one generation,” said Dr Cullen.

A healthier workforce was in everyone’s interest — four out of five employees believe there is a positive link between their health and wellbeing and their company’s activity.

Almost seven out of 10 (69%) said they were more likely to stay longer with employers who showed an interest in their health and wellbeing.

According to the NHF research, about half of employers are already trying to facilitate healthier lifestyles for their employees and since 2014, there had been an increase in employers providing access to health and wellbeing initiatives within the workplace.

The three most popular initiatives mentioned by employees to promote more exercise are company organised pilates or other exercise classes (45%), access to annual health checks or screenings (45%), and more facilities to support exercise, such as showers and lockers (38%).


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