Are you sitting a little too comfortably?

Activity WorksPhysical inactivity has been highlighted as one of the leading causes of death in the developed world and is responsible for nearly 1 in 5 (17%) of all deaths in the UK.

It is estimated that a sedentary lifestyle is responsible for approximately 25% of cases of coronary heart disease, 13% of strokes, 17% of colon cancer, 11% of breast cancer, and 15% of diabetes.  It also contributes to poor mental health, osteoporosis and obesity. The consequential costs to the NHS are approximately £900 million per year.

And it’s not just about the health implications – addressing sedentary working has a real benefit to business as well. Physical inactivity can result in reduced production, earlier retirements, higher staff turnover and higher rates of absenteeism. Studies have found that the most common reason for sick leave in the UK is back pain, and simply increasing activity levels has been shown to reduce the risk of back problems – and other musculoskeletal disorders – and to aid their recovery.

The second most common reason for sick leave is work-related stress, depression, and/or anxiety, and a lack of physical activity has been shown to play a role in mental health conditions.

Implementing physical activity into an employee’s day has been proven to . . .

  • Reduce the amount and duration of sickness absences
  • Reduce high staff turnover rates
  • Increase the productivity of staff and thus the organisation
  • Reduce the risk of staff injury
  • Improve staff satisfaction
  • Create a positive corporate image

Did you know that Northern Ireland has the lowest percentage of adults (approximately 53%) in the UK achieving the recommended 150 minutes per week of physical activity? Sitting for more than 10 hours a day has been shown to noticeably increase the risk of health conditions, yet when you consider the time spent sitting during the daily commute, while consuming meals, during leisure and relaxation activities, and while in the working environment (especially if you are an office-based worker), it’s easy to see how the average person sits for a total of 14+ hours per day.

Have we convinced you of the importance of active workplaces yet?

So, what can you do?

Chest Heart and Stroke BITCBusiness in the Community NI has partnered with Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke to bring you Activity Works.

Sponsored by Westfield Health, this exciting new initiative challenges workers to sweat the small things and to make simple changes to their daily routine in order to increase their activity levels during their working day. It’s not about finding the time (or energy!) to hit the gym in-between a busy work and home life but rather about being more active as part of your daily routine.

There are lots of ways to boost your activity levels: from simple quick-wins – like swapping the car for your bike and/or the lift for the stairs – to the more creative ideas, such as introducing walking meetings or encouraging staff to complete simple stretches and bodyweight ‘deskercise’ when at their desk for long periods.

As an organisation, you’ll enter into healthy competition with fellow participants, and our online leader board should act as an incentive to boost your active minutes. If that’s not motivation enough, you’ll also be fundraising for NI Chest Heart and Stroke, playing your part in giving something back to the local community.

How It Works:

Depending on how many staff are involved, you will need to select Activity Works Champions who will lead on this internally. Those selected will be trained up and will receive a Resource Pack so that they are fully equipped to make this programme a reality in your workplace.

It’s time to beat the seat and to make activity work for you!

To register your organisation for Activity Works, click here.

If you are interested in getting active, raising awareness, reducing your health risks and improving your fitness, contact Amy Kieran on (028) 9046 0606 or at

Sponsored by Westfield Health