There’s plenty of research linking an active body to an active mind, so it’s no surprise that businesses are encouraging their employees to stay healthy. But what incentives can employers provide to inspire their workforce to be more active without being overly intrusive?

The results are in

A widespread acceptance that ‘healthy body equals healthy mind’ has not slowed the number of studies being done around the subject.

As a result, there are now papers proving that exercise has an immediate impact on people’s cognition, that regular exercise can boost your memory, that physical exertion before a task can boost concentration, and that exercise can even have a positive effect on mental health.

And that’s even before we go into the enhancement of creativity and the staving off of mental decline in later years.

All skills required for productivity

It goes without saying that if you are focused, creative, happy and your memory is unimpaired, you will be more productive.

How often have we sat at our desks trying to kickstart the creative juices, only to find our minds stutter, or wander off on another tangent entirely? How often have we felt too down to do our work, or struggled to remember exactly what we were supposed to start with?

Ways to get staff active

As well as the obvious gym membership discounts and cycle to work schemes – both of which can energise employees for the working day – there are a number of incentives that encourage a workforce to stay active.

One, which sounds a bit cruel, is to keep people on their feet. Standing desks are an alternative to traditional desks. Sit-stand desks where workers can transition between the two offer a halfway house solution.

Standing desks are not effective for everyone, but those with pre-existing weight or cholesterol problems have benefited from using them. Their main advantage is that they stop people from sitting down for long periods of time, which is proven to put them at greater risk of developing a number of health conditions.

Taking the moving concept further, there are treadmill desks or even cycling desks. Used effectively, active workstations can have a positive impact on employees’ health.

If employees are reluctant to use the gym, team building exercises could be designed to be more physical. Whether it’s a game of touch rugby in the park, or a table tennis tournament in the break room, team exercise can improve fitness and productivity.

Encouraging staff to live a healthy lifestyle is a win-win for both sides. The key is offering active alternatives and incentives in a way that benefits employees – with financial rewards as well as physical ones. Why not share the studies out there and let your staff come to the realisation themselves?

Sources:

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23795769

[2] http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26724833

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24026850

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/jun/18/how-physical-exercise-makes-your-brain-work-better

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/mar/28/is-a-stand-up-desk-really-healthier

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25448843

[8] http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00125-012-2677-z

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