Debbie Lovewell: Positive impact of exercise

As a self-confessed ‘gym-phobe’ for more than a decade, many of the benefits of exercise have passed me by.

Yet, thanks to a gym opening a mere stone’s throw from Employee Benefits’ offices, this has all begun to change.

One pleasant surprise has been the positive impact of lunch-time gym sessions on mood, energy levels and afternoon productivity. It certainly ties in with research by HR recruitment firm Ortus, which found that providing breaks for employees to visit the gym or to exercise during office hours can help to boost day-to-day productivity.

According to Robert Pozen, author of Extreme Productivity and senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, not only can exercise give employees more energy during the working day, but when compared to sedentary colleagues, those who have exercised during their lifetime could have more brain cells when they reach their 60s, 70s and 80s. As more people look set to stay in work for longer, this can only be an advantage for them and their employer.

And it seems I am not the only one to have woken up to the benefits of exercise and fitness at work, even if I am a slightly late arriver to the party. When I entered the world of employee benefits more than a decade ago, HR and reward professionals often struggled to justify the cost of offering wellbeing perks, such as exercise classes or on-site fitness initiatives, to their finance colleagues, who wanted to see cold, hard evidence of the impact of these on the bottom line.

Even though it can still be difficult to isolate the exact impact of such initiatives on issues such as productivity, sickness absence and motivation, employers are increasingly concluding that there is a link. Rarely a month goes by when we do not hear of organisations holding health and wellbeing events for their staff. In the last month alone, Tui UK and Ireland, and the BGL Group are just two of the employers that have done just that.

Follow Debbie on Twitter: @DebbieLovewell