In today’s fast-moving business world increasing productivity is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, but is this at the cost of health and wellbeing of employees? Walking Works is an innovative new programme designed to benefit employers and employees through walking and good health. It takes my Walking for Weight Loss scheme of structured walking alongside healthy eating to businesses and allows them to reap the rewards. The benefits of a happy and healthy workforce are undeniable, with recent studies showing that corporate wellbeing programmes have a range of positive outcomes, such as decreased health risks and reducing sick leave days, better staff retention as well improving communications between staff.
With stress, the most common cause of work days lost, accounting for 40% of all work-related illnesses, totalling 10.4 million working days lost between 2011-2012 (HSE, 2013), Walking Works invites employees on a 12-week programme of regular walking either before or after work, or during lunch breaks, whilst educating them on the importance of walking for a healthy lifestyle. It gives weekly talks, covering topics such as correct posture, healthy eating and ways to improve sleep. Even the NHS (the UK’s largest employers) struggle with every employer averaging 9.4 days off in 2012 due to illness (HSCIC, 2013).
With personal experience of the incredible advantages walking has to offer, I am determined to see more people benefit. Walking helped me to turn my life around. I went from being someone who was 18 stone, depressed and had extremely low self-esteem, to the person I am today – eight stone lighter and healthy, happy and looking to the future and enjoying the present!
We are not prioritising our health and have become more sedentary because we are exhausted by the constant and ever increasing juggling of today’s modern life. Walking Works is about combining a busy work life with taking time out to look after your employees which is beneficial to both parties. It is hard to keep up the momentum or walk alone as I experienced so I offer an experienced and professional but nurturing mentoring group walking service.
Stress, alcohol, excess weight and confidence issues can all be addressed by walking when combined with a change in eating and lifestyle. The great thing about walking is that it is suitable for anyone of any level of fitness and every age. Walking is a group activity and isn’t as daunting for those suffering from low self-esteem as say going to the gym. I have done it – I know how hard it is to get fit and to lose weight. I did it alone but that was a lonely and difficult journey, it’s much better to get fit as a group.
According to a Health in the Workplace survey carried out by Aviva Health UK, 89% of employers agreed that introducing health-related benefits to their company increased staff productivity (www.aviva.co.uk/healthcarezone/document-library/files/ge/gen4722.pdf). The British Heart Foundation agrees that work performance can be improved by 4% to 15% when employees engage in regular physical activity. Physically active employees also take 27% less sick days than their non-active colleagues.
Walking brings tangible benefits to companies by:
1 Increasing staff productivity
2 Decreasing the amount of sick leave taken by employees
3 Developing a workforce who feel more valued and content
4 Improving team cohesion and relationships
5 Reducing staff turnover
Regular walking can help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of Osteoporosis, aid weight loss, improve stress levels, produce endorphins, prevent varicose veins, improve sleep and generally improve fitness and strength. Most of all it is empowering and allows people to take back control of their lives.