With people exercising less since the start of the pandemic, there are fears for physical and mental wellbeing – but there are steps businesses can take to correct the problem
A new survey published by Sport England has revealed that there are currently 12.5 million inactive adults in the UK, defined as people doing less than 30 minutes exercise a week. The figure constitutes a massive 27.5% of the adult population, prompting concerns about their physical and mental wellbeing. The Active Lives survey of 172,970 people counts activities ranging from walking to team sports as an activity.
One of the main issues, it seems, is that people have a psychological block about getting back out there. A million people have stopped exercising since the start of the pandemic. Tim Hollingsworth, the chief executive of Sport England, said: “There is real evidence of people just falling out of the habit or not being confident about returning. There is a need for us to overcome the natural response of people to say they can’t fit it into their lives anymore.”
“One of the things we also need to be very concerned about is people’s wider circumstances and just their lives enabling them to be part of the clubs they were in before — whether that’s economic circumstances, whether that’s health or whether that’s anxiety.”
The report states: “There’s evidence activity levels will start to go back up, but this may be impacted by the nervousness of the population, a perception of lost fitness and conditioning making a return feel difficult, and the extent to which permanent habits have been broken.”
How to motivate employees to get active
In short, then, people need a bit of a nudge. Which is where a programme like buddyboost can make an enormous difference. buddyboost is a proven employee wellbeing tool, using a simple challenge format to help improve wellbeing and support employee engagement. Once a company embarks on a buddyboost challenge, employees download the bespoke app and commit to doing at least 26 minutes of activity every day for 26 days in a month. They can form into virtual groups of buddies to help and motivate one another, and everyone stays in touch on the app’s private feed, posting messages and photos, boosting engagement and fostering team spirit.
The buddy system acts as a motivator and gives people a sense of confidence and community. And because buddyboost doesn’t distinguish between going for a brisk walk and doing a full workout, it allows people to return to physical activity at a level that suits them, allowing them to build confidence as their fitness grows – perfect for those people who worry that they have simply fallen out of the exercise habit.
The other, key aspect of buddyboost is its emphasis on mental wellbeing. Participants register their corresponding mood boost after exercise, to show the mental benefits too. The data from thousands of participants shows that on average people get a 25% mood boost after doing their activity.
Boosting mental health by targeting physical wellbeing.
This mood boost is all the more important in light of Sport England’s concern about the worrying link between inactivity and poor mental health. The report states that there is evidence to show that the most active people have the best mental health. And the physical and mental rewards of exercise, says Hollingsworth, are legion. “It is clear that the benefits of activity don’t just manifest themselves physically. The mental health and wellbeing of people is boosted, communities become more cohesive, and the economic impact creates added value locally and nationally, as well helping individual employment prospects.”
This increase in a sense of camaraderie, and in productivity, is an indication that businesses, as well as communities, will see significant benefits to paying more attention to the physical and mental wellbeing of their employees.
The business strategy firm Learn About says: “In today’s world, the office is where most people do their work. This sedentary lifestyle can quickly drain your workers of energy and motivation. Encourage good health and energize your workforce by implementing employee wellness programs… Your workers will appreciate the opportunities to stay healthy and this culture of wellness will promote a happy, healthy, and productive employee workforce. And what job seeker wouldn’t want to join a company like that?”
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston says of the survey: “These figures underline the fundamental role that sport and exercise play right across the country, supporting our physical and mental health, and bringing communities together.”
With physical and mental wellbeing at the top of the agenda following the pandemic, everyone has a role to play in getting people motivated to get back out there and looking after themselves. And now, thanks to buddyboost, businesses can play their part in creating a healthier and happier workforce, resulting in a win for everyone.