Guidance to promote workplace fitness

Employees should be encouraged to keep fit by incorporating walking and cycling into their everyday lives, according to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).

The report, Walking and cycling: local measures to promote walking and cycling as forms of travel or recreation, puts forward guidance to help the UK tackle declining rates of physical activity, promote healthy lifestyles, and reduce traffic congestion, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

One section of the report includes guidance for employers, which is aimed at directors and senior staff including managers, HR professionals, and health and safety staff.

Its recommendations include:

  • Develop strategies in consultation with staff (and other relevant stakeholders) to promote walking and cycling in and around the workplace.
  • Ensure activities are developed in line with wider local activities, and are linked to existing national and local initiatives.
  • Liaise with local authority transport departments, neighbouring businesses and other partners to improve walking and cycling access to workplace sites.
  • Identify an active travel champion (or champions) within the workplace, at a sufficiently senior level. They should coordinate activities, such as led and informal walking groups, workplace challenges and promotional competitions (for example, using pedometers), bicycle user groups and walking interest groups. The active travel champion(s) should also develop or promote schemes that give staff access to a pool of bicycles for short-distance business travel, or access to discounted cycle purchases, such as bikes-for-work schemes.
  • Ensure workplace walking and cycling programmes are developed using an evidence-based theoretical model of behaviour change.
  • Provide information tailored for the specific workplace on walking and cycling routes and circuits. This should include details on the distances involved, maps, routes and safety information.

Mike Kelly, director at the Centre for Public Health Excellence at Nice, said: “As a nation, we are not physically active enough and this can contribute to a wide range of health problems.

“It is important that there is comprehensive, evidence-based guidance in place that can help address these issues. We want to encourage and enable people to walk and cycle more, and weave these forms of travel into everyday life.”