Promoting physical activity in the workplace can have many significant benefits for organisations – and group exercise is one of the very best ways to get the whole workforce engaged.
Inactivity and long periods of sitting can be hugely detrimental to your employees’ physical and mental health. And this has a knock-on effect in terms of productivity, positivity, and of course labour days lost to sickness and time off.
All told, research suggests that, on average, Brits sit for as long as 8.9 hours each day, contributing to the 137.3 million working days that are lost to sickness each year.
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Workplace stress is also a huge cost to businesses. Indeed, according to the Thriving at Work report produced for the UK Government in October 2017, it is estimated that poor mental health in the workforce costs employers between £33 billion and £42 billion every year. Over half of this cost comes from individuals being less productive at work due to mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression, with additional costs coming from sickness absence and staff turnover. In addition, the report finds that 300,000 people with a long-term mental health problem lose their jobs every year.
Group Exercise Improves Both Physical and Mental Health
It is well-known that regular exercise is not only beneficial to our physical health, but our mental health, also. In fact, studies show that regular physical activity can be an even more effective treatment for mental health issues than taking medication – exercising three times per week can reduce the risk of depression by up to 20%.
Group exercise in particular can have an astoundingly positive impact. In fact, a new study, conducted by researchers at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, suggests that exercising in a group makes people feel both physically and mentally better than working out alone.
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The study, which looked at 70 medical students and staff – a group known for high levels of stress and poor work-life balance – found that group exercise lowers stress by 26% and significantly improves quality of life. The participants were allowed to self-select a twelve-week exercise programme, either within a group or as individuals. Those who chose group exercise were shown to have a 12% boost in mental well-being, 24% in physical fitness, and 26% in emotional stability.
By contrast, those exercising alone saw no significant changes, apart from in mental well-being, which increased 11%.
Lead researcher Dr Danya Yorks commented on the findings: “The communal benefits of coming together with friends and colleagues, and doing something difficult, while encouraging one another, pays dividends beyond exercising alone.”
Engaging Employees in Group Exercise
A fitness campaign can create a really great atmosphere in the workplace, drive up employee engagement, lead to reductions in sickness absence and give a boost to overall productivity and staff retention rates.
As your national governing body for group exercise, at EMD UK, our number one mission is to realise a healthier nation for all by increasing participation in group exercise – including at the workplace.
EMD UK recognise that mental well-being is every bit as important as physical health for your employees, which is why we have teamed up with mental health charity Mind to create Workplace Health, through which we provide exclusive group exercise and well-being programmes for businesses and organisations across the nation.
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Currently, two group exercise providers – Boxercise and Broga – are running programmes in workplaces as part of our Workplace Health initiative. Boxercise is a boxing-based full-body workout, great for increasing strength and stamina, increasing cardiovascular activity and relieving stress. Broga is a workout based on yoga, aimed specifically at increasing mobility and relieving everyday stresses and strains.
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Both programmes provide a health-boosting blend of weekly group exercise classes and 10-minute well-being sessions for employees, and are designed to get your people active, and increase awareness and understanding of mental health.
Delivered in either four, eight, or twelve-week blocks, the Workplace Health initiative is a super-fun and inclusive way to get your employees engaged with group exercise. And when the programmes finish, everyone who takes part will continue to have on-going access to Mind resources to help their mental well-being during day-to-day office life, and participating workplaces will be given the support needed to continue with group exercise sessions going forward.
Encourage Your Employees to Be All They Can Be
Regular exercise is imperative for the ongoing health and happiness of your workforce. Encouraging your employees to not only be more active, but also to take a greater interest in their health and mental well-being could prove to be a huge boon to your business.
So many of us are tethered to our office desks for hours on end and if there’s a long commute to work at the start and end of every day, there can be little opportunity during the week to participate in any form of physical activity at all.
EMD UK is committed to combatting this trend, and is working with many organisations up and down the country to realise healthier and happier workplace environments for all, through group exercise.
If you would like to start making a positive impact on the lives of your employees through group exercise, our Workplace Health programmes are a great place to start. To find out more, visit our Workplace Health page, or get in touch directly with EMD UK today.