Two recent TV programmes, both aimed at improving children’s learning, shared an intervention to make pupils more alert and engaged. The intervention was exercise. This set me off thinking about whether exercise could help employers engage their employees, and if so, how could employers facilitate it.
As the BBC programmes, Gareth Malone’s Extraordinary School for Boys and The Classroom Experiment demonstrated, and several scientific papers have declared, physical activity can help people mentally, socially and physically. But being aware of these benefits is one thing, enabling people to exercise seems to be something else.
So what can be done to address this complaint? Interestingly the two schools programmes might help us answer this. In The Classroom Experiment pupils were expected to get up 30 minutes earlier every day for one term so that they could participate in exercise classes before the school day began – as a result, participation rates varied. In contrast, in Gareth Malone’s classes, exercise was integrated into lessons – unsurprisingly participation rates were high. Like the teachers in The Classroom Experiment expecting pupils to be motivated enough to give up some of their free time for physical activity, employers usually expect staff to work out in their own time – often before or after work. So perhaps it’s not surprising in a culture which has the longest working hours in Europe so few people in the
Indeed, maybe it’s time to take a leaf out of the Chinese workplace. After an absence of three years in which obesity levels have been growing, mandatory workplace calisthenics have been reintroduced in
Unison Media have worked with many of the top health & fitness brands in the
Dugdill L., Brettle, A., Hulme, C., McCluskey, S., & Long, A.F. (2008). Workplace physical activity interventions: a systematic review. International Journal of Workplace Health Management, 1, 20-40.
Kerr, J., Griffiths, A., & Cox, T. (Eds.). (1996). Workplace health, employee fitness and exercise.