The best ways to incorporate exercise into a working day

Following on from the previous article “How incorporating group exercise into the workplace can improve employees physical and mental health” here are some ideas on how to encourage employees to incorporate exercise into the working day.

Recent national surveys show that only 40% of men and 28% of women in the UK currently meet recommended physical activity guidelines of moderate intensity activity for at least 150 minutes each week, with almost half (46%) of UK workers are unable to fit exercise into their daily schedule. Not only is exercise important for physical health, it also plays a vital part in individuals mental health.

Alarmingly, it is estimated that poor mental health in the workforce costs employers between £33 billion and £42 billion every year – so it is in both employers’ and employees’ interest alike to incorporate more wellbeing incentives into the workplace.  However, currently only 8% of companies in the UK proactively put in regular effort to look after their employee wellbeing, so something needs to change.

Below are some tips on how to encourage small changes in you and your staff’s day to day activities, to incorporate more exercise into routine.

Take the stairs

Stairs are everywhere and ditching the lift in favour of the stairs can make a huge difference to an individual’s physical and mental health, as-well as easily being slotted into a working day.

Climbing just eight flights of stairs a day lowers average early mortality risk by 33%, seven minutes stair climbing a day can halve the risk of a heart attack over 10 years, and just two minutes extra stair climbing a day is enough to stop average middle age weight gain.

Stair climbing can be accumulated across the course of the day, making a significant contribution to the recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity.

Include exercise in the daily commute

Encouraging staff to walk to work is a great way for them to stay healthy, improve mentality, with also saving money on daily commutes. If it isn’t feasible to walk the whole way to work, consider suggesting just hopping off the bus or tube a few stops earlier.

It’s a great idea to plan a walking route before setting off, to time how long it takes to get to work so ensure there are no late arrivals, and to choose a route off major roads both to raise the safety factor and to improve the quality of air.

Walking to work can help employees to arrive in a more positive, calm and motivated state, which will be reflected in the way they treat co-workers, and how they deal with their workload in the office.

Create a workplace wellness programme

Many companies are now creating employee wellness programmes to help keep employees healthy, happy and productive, as-well as decreasing staff turnover.

88% of organizations with a wellness program rated their initiatives as somewhat or very effective in improving employee health.

Some examples could be;

  • Subsidised gym memberships
  • Onsite fitness classes
  • Offer onsite yoga classes to reduce stress
  • Providing healthy snacks in the office
  • Creating a workplace wellness newsletter
  • Join a local sports league
  • Create workplace challenges such as 10,000 steps a day and offer a prize to those who complete it

A fantastic way to keep staff engaged in a wellness programme is to keep it fun, which will heighten motivation and ensure they do not lose steam.

The lunch hour

In a recent Westfield Health survey, it was revealed that 55% of UK workers eat lunch at their desks and only half get up from their desks to go to the toilet during the whole working day.

A great way to squeeze in a little physical exercise during the day is to take a lunch time walk. Do employees get an hour for lunch? Suggest them splitting this hour into 30 minutes eating and 30 minutes walking.

Once one employee gets into the habit of going out for a lunch time walk, it is likely other will follow their example. Going together as a group is an excellent way to combat afternoon slumps, and socialise while getting in daily activity.

Have a walking meeting

It’s well-known that Steve Jobs was a massive supporter of walking meetings. The idea might take a while to convince either a manager or employees, but they have been shown to improve employees physical and mental health, expand inspiration and creative ideas, while increasing teamwork collaboration.

The Harvard Business Review conducted research that found that those who participate in walking meetings are 5.25% more likely to report being creative at their jobs, and 8.5% more likely to report high levels of engagement, then those that do not.

Walking and talking helps people prioritise information, as-well as encourages deep breathing, improves circulation and energises the brain and body.

However, there are not always practical. Walking meetings should be used for brainstorming rather than final decision making, and limited to meetings of no more than 4 employees, as too be able to communicate properly.

Change to a standing desk

Another way to improve employee’s activity in the office is too introduce a standing desk. Standing desks aren’t unusual in the workplace these days, and research suggests that on average, Brits sit down for as many as 8.9 hours each day, which contributes to the 137.3 million sick days employees take each year.

One study, Improving Worker Health: The Take-a-Stand Project, showed that back and neck pain was reduced by 54 per cent within four weeks of using a standing desk periodically throughout the day. At the end of the study period, 75 per cent said they felt healthier, 62 per cent felt happier and 33 per cent felt less stressed, showing that standing desks are a successful way to improve employees physical and mental wellbeing.

All these steps above are great advice to pass on to employees and colleagues, giving them the chance to improve their physical and mental health, and therefore creating a happier, healthier, more productive and successful workforce.


Taking our own advice, to promote corporate wellbeing, this year we have sponsored the Chesterfield Wellbeing Challenge-The Pronto Paints Wellbeing Challenge – taking place on the 21st October 2018. This is a corporate group challenge whereby companies need to put forward at least 6 employees to run per team. To complete the challenge each team must have 2 people in each of the following races: Redbrik Chesterfield Half Marathon, 5 Mile Challenge and the Fun Run.

This year Pronto Paints have put forward two Pronto Paints teams to participate in the challenge. So far 4 of us are running the full half marathon, 7 of us doing the 5 miles and 3 in the fun run. We also have 5 additional family members joining the Pronto Paints teams. We will be raising money for Ashgate Hospicecare and Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice – to sponsor us please click here.