Physical activity at the workplace: European Commission’s study on existing practices

Following the Tartu call for a healthy lifestyle in September 2017, the European Commission released a study about physical activity promotion at the workplace.

Indeed, physical inactivity is a major societal problem. The last Eurobarometer on Sport and Physical Activity (2014) shows that 59% of European adults are not active enough. This lack of physical activity is one of the four biggest risk factors for global mortality and is accounting to 6% of deaths globally. The World Health Organisation even describes it as the main cause for a number of cancers, diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases.

This study emphasises the existing initiatives and displays conclusions on their effectiveness. The most common workplace physical activity promotion initiatives are walking promotion, counselling and advice on physical activity, stair walking and group led/social exercise. Overall, evidence show that the most successful interventions are those which are embedded into the company’s culture and daily practices, where managers and leaders raise awareness of their employees on the importance of physical activity and provide a variety of participation opportunities.

The FOOD programme’s goal is to promote healthy eating at the workplace. It is complementary to physical activity promotion at the workplace as they both promote employees’ health and wellbeing. Furthermore, in some of the FOOD programme countries, the nutritional recommendations include physical activity promotion.

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